Together Outdoors (TO), a coalition committed to advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion in all aspects of the outdoor recreation experience, commemorated its first anniversary with a look back at a year of progress and a look ahead at new efforts to make the outdoors more accessible and welcoming for everyone.
Over 100 organizations joined TO in its first year, with an initial focus on educating coalition members on the history of exclusionary practices in the outdoors and the challenges that remain for members of under-represented groups who seek to enjoy America’s outdoor spaces, as per the News & Insights report of the RV Industry Association.
TO’s debut learning tool was an eight-module online training program for outdoor companies, nonprofits, and land management agencies. Topics included insights into, and best practices for, hiring and retaining a diverse workforce, implementing Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) at all levels of the organization, and improving accessibility for the disabled.
“Together Outdoors was born as the result of outdoor industry leaders asking how they could help provide education and drive desperately needed change. Together Outdoors’ first year was one of reflection, strategic planning, and learning,” said Coalition Lead Gerry Seavo James.
“With the support of our funders, member organizations, Governance Council, and Advisory Council, we have built a solid foundation and developed effective programs to help make the great outdoors great for everyone. We are proud of everything Together Outdoors has accomplished in its first year and are excited for what’s to come.”
TO’s new efforts build upon 12 months of work made possible by foundational and multi-year support from THOR Industries and the guidance of TO’s Advisory Council and Governance Councils.
The coalition’s next phase is focused on helping members put what they’ve learned into practice, as well as launching more tools and programs to support its vital mission and to provide ways for the general public to become involved with the coalition’s efforts.
TO’s new initiatives include the Resource Hub Beta Launch, an innovative online database providing a wealth of curated information about building an outdoor community where everyone belongs.
These materials include books, articles, research papers, videos, podcasts, and toolkits. Additionally, the hub includes a directory of inclusion-related outdoor organizations, a grant opportunity directory, and the ability to host web-based training programs.
The platform will be launched as a Beta with user feedback providing the basis for upgrades and improvements.
One of the initiatives is the Inclusive Spaces Program. TO, in partnership with the Trust for Public Land, is piloting a program to help recreation space operators and public land management agencies improve accessibility and inclusion in their spaces.
Findings from the pilot program, conducted in the Chattanooga, TN region, will be used to develop best practices in every area of outdoor space operation, including the design of physical facilities, staff training, storytelling, and language used in printed materials and signage.
It also has Branding and Merchandise. TO is pleased to unveil its new logo, which visually conveys the coalition’s message of accessibility and inclusion. The new online store offers logoed clothing that allows people to show their support for TO and a more accessible and welcoming outdoors for all people.
Another initiative is the Grant Program. TO recently debuted a grant program designed to support organizations on the front lines of building a more accessible and welcoming outdoor ecosystem thanks to the support from THOR Industries and Winnebago Industries.
To help offset the history of exclusion of marginalized communities in the grant-making process, TO’s criteria will give priority to individuals from those communities, as well as organizations run by members of those groups.
To learn more about Together Outdoors, visit https://www.togetheroutdoors.com/.