WTA’s Commitment to Stand Against Racism
Washington Trails Association is committed to trails for everyone, forever. To make that a reality, we must all come together to make the nation a more just, equitable and safe place for everyone, everywhere, regardless of the color of their skin. As a White-led organization, we know it is our work to help dismantle institutional racism. We are constantly working to become an equitable organization and standing up against all racial injustice. We are dedicated to working with our community and partners to overcome the deep and enduring impacts of racism in our organization and in the outdoor recreation environment more broadly. We have much work to do.
Why this matters
Racial justice is essential to our mission. People of color often face unique challenges to getting outdoors, including inequitable access to local trails due to unwarranted suspicion, confrontation and violence when recreating outdoors; a history of underinvestment in particular communities; and structural inequity that creates high barriers for some individuals and communities to participate in outdoor activities. Until our nation is a just, equitable and safe place for everyone and until the outdoors is welcoming and accessible to hikers of all backgrounds, regardless of race, we won’t truly have trails for everyone, forever.
What we’re doing
WTA has been actively working on our commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) for several years — and we acknowledge that we still have a lot of work to do both in our organization and with the broader outdoor community. Events in the news continue to highlight the ongoing history of racial violence against people of color in America. It is critical for White-led organizations and beneficiaries of dominant culture in the outdoor community to examine the racial inequities inherent in our industry and to take steps to dismantle structural racism and systemic white privilege in all its forms.
Here are some of the steps we’re taking:
Diversity Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Plan: In 2020, WTA wrapped up our first DEI plan (read our report on our progress). The plan focused on reducing barriers to the outdoors faced by historically marginalized communities, including people of color. That work will continue, and we are working with our board, staff and community partners to refresh this plan for the next 2-3 years. We commit to sharing the specific actions we plan to take to continue to reduce those barriers, to work anti-racism into our curriculum and trainings, and lift up those working to undo the history of inequity and institutionalized racism.
Organizational learning: As a predominantly White organization, it is incumbent upon us to understand what we can do to better support the people of color on our staff, partners and communities of color, and to explore ways to make our organization and culture a more attractive place to work. This also applies to better supporting our staff and partners from all communities of color. We commit to examining and improving our own recruiting, hiring and retention policies and practices to make them more equitable, and to undoing practices, policies and ways of doing business that are rooted in White dominant culture.
Direct support to community groups: One way we have already been supporting community groups and partners is through our Outdoor Leadership Training (OLT) mini-grant program. This program provides up to $500 in funding assistance to community partners to help mitigate the cost of outdoor experiences for youth. We commit to building on this program to expand our level of support to of color. Learn more about how to apply.
Amplifying voices: Finally, we have an opportunity to continue to use our platform to amplify the messages of people of color. We commit to examining how we include and amplify voices through our magazine, website and social media channels and to identifying ways to further lift up those voices.
Collection of WTA’s past writing and work on DEI
Empowering One Another: A Personal Reflection on My Experience With WTA's Emerging Leaders Program
I recently finished 12-week's in WTA's Emerging Leaders Program, a paid development opportunity for individuals who are historically underrepresented in the outdoor industry. Now, as I'm moving onto a permanent position at WTA, I'm looking back on what I learned and the power of the connections I made.
It is Past Time to Change Racist Names on Public Lands
Apr 20, 2022
Hikers Using Wheelchairs Help Improve Our Hiking Guide
Apr 04, 2022
With the help of hikers using wheelchairs, WTA now has a new way to filter our hiking information.
Q&A With a GirlTrek Leader: Harriet Tubman, Walking and Community
Mar 04, 2022
On March 10, GirlTrek encourages folks to walk in honor of Harriet Tubman's 200th birthday. We talked with Trina Baker, a leader for GirlTrek and a member of WTA's board, about why this event is so important — and why she's so passionate about the power of walking and community.
How to Help if You See Harassment or Bias on Trail
Dec 08, 2021
Trails should be welcoming and safe for everyone. Here's some ways you can help if you encounter incidents on bias on trail.
What We've Learned in Our Work Toward Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
Oct 12, 2021
In early 2018, we rolled out a diversity, equity and inclusion plan at WTA. Over the last 3 years, we’ve consistently worked toward the goals in that plan. Now, we want to take a moment to reflect on our work and some key lessons we’ve learned.
Bravespace Film Reclaims the Outdoors for Women of Color
A new film puts Black, Indigenous and women of color in front of and behind the camera to create community and connection. | By Jessi Loerch
Take This Survey — And Help Make King County Parks More Equitable
Jul 22, 2021
King County Parks is soliciting community feedback via survey on priorities, needs and barriers related to park, trail and natural area access.
'You Belong' Washington-Based Film Centers the Stories of Women of Color
Mar 25, 2021
A new film seeks to build community in the outdoors for women of color — and help reshape the narrative of who belongs in outdoor spaces.