Outdoor Afro Hello!

Mar 13 2011 Published by under Uncategorized

When people ask me how Outdoor Afro began, I gauge how I’ll answer by how much time the listener has to hear about it! The site began a mere two years ago, but the material for its inspiration began decades before.

During my childhood, I had the fruitful experience of splitting time between urban Oakland, California and my families’ working ranch in the Northern woodlands, where I cultivated a passion for unstructured natural spaces, farming, and I learned how to hunt and fish.

Also as a youth, I participated in the Girl Scouts; and as a young adult, Outward Bound and my college roommates helped to broaden my outdoor experiences to include back country activities like mountaineering, rock climbing, and road bicycling.  I was also fortunate to live in a region all of my life with accessible wild spaces no more than 20 minutes away in any direction.

Check out this recent podcast where I share more about my background.

Rock Climbing

But over time, I struggled with the consistently low numbers of African Americans participating in activities with me, so I turned to early 90's forums like internet mailing lists and newsgroups to connect with people of color who loved the outdoors. In spite of my diligent networking, many times I felt like I was the only one in my local community who deeply engaged with the outdoors, but I discovered that many others felt the same way, and when you put together all the “only ones” we are numerous!

Outdoor Afro emerged naturally from these experiences.

The site has now grown into a vibrant and fun online community that reconnects African Americans with natural spaces and one another through recreational activities such as camping, hiking, biking, fishing, gardening, skiing — and more! Outdoor Afro uses social media platforms to create interest communities, promote events, and partner with regional and national organizations that support diverse participation in the Great Outdoors.

I am looking forward to helping engage the Scientopia community with the conversation of diverse participation in the outdoors. To this end, Outdoor Afro maintains an upbeat conversation on Facebook and in its online community, so please join the fray -- no afro required! User stories and pictures about outdoor engagement are central and important to share as one way to dispel the myth that African Americans do not care for the outdoors.

Rue Mapp, Outdoor Afro

For the next two weeks, expect posts from me on topics such as camping, children and nature, urban connections to the outdoors, and other ideas and inspiration to get outside. I am so excited about getting to know you, and all your upcoming outdoor adventures - thank you for having me!

14 responses so far

  • Awesome logo! Have fun!

  • namnezia says:

    Looking forward to your posts!

  • arvind says:

    Way to go, Rue!!

  • BikeMonkey says:

    Yay! Welcome Rue!

    Putting together the 'Only Ones'.... nice way to put it.

    One thing we should not let pass the radar is that an outdoor life can be a health-improved life, particularly for subpopulations at increased risk for disorders such as diabetes and heart disease. Anything that encourages activity, whether it be poking around the mountains and canyons looking at natural life or getting people that haven't ridden in decades out on bikes (major, major props to you on that!) or camping/hiking excursions is a grand thing. The fact that African-Americans just do not see themselves enjoying numerous categories of outdoor pursuit is not such a good thing. Outdoor Afro is a great solution.

    I love your Spotted on Sunday* meme because it always reminds me of that hilarious Blair Underwood hiker video..we can laugh while making a serious point.

    *I know it is mostly people sending in pictures of themselves but still it has a vibe like some of the hikers in the video....

  • BikeMonkey says:

    Here's the video, btw, for the peanut gallery. It will help you to understand the whys and wherefores....

  • scicurious says:

    YAY! So excited to have you!

  • Zuska says:

    Welcome, welcome! I'm thrilled that you are guest blogging here!

  • Rue Mapp says:

    Hey thanks so much for the warm welcome y'all!

    BikeMonkey --you totally get it, and thanks for generously engaging with the journey of Outdoor Afro over these first couple of years!

    I am grateful to open a new door to yet another great network to help stimulate more thinking about what it means for everyone to meaningfully connect with the outdoors.

  • DNLee says:

    yes! awesome Rue! welcome to the dark side, I mean science side of the blogosphere!

  • gerty-z says:

    YAY! excited to have you 🙂

  • Christina Pikas says:

    Welcome! I was lucky to grow up out in the country but I know many of my friends weren't and just weren't exposed to nature. I think your blog is great and can't wait for your guest posts.

  • [...] -Go see Rue Mapp holding the Outdoor Afro court in the Gueste Blogge. [...]

  • esteem says:

    I am convinced We have read this very same kind of affirmation in other places, it must be more popular with the public.

  • countertops says:

    Great article, thanks for sharing your experience!