WE WON'T BE SILENT — HERE'S AN UPDATE ON HOW WE'RE DOING OUR PART

From its inception, Parks Project has been committed to inclusivity—it’s one of the founding principles of our work. In May, we put together a plan for making a concerted effort to combat systemic racism in the outdoor industry. We outlined actionable steps that we can take in order to begin to rectify the pervasive issues that have prevented members of the Black community from feeling welcome and safe in nature—whether that be in a park around the corner or one across the country.

We understand the issue of racism in the outdoors is complicated, multifaceted, and carries with it a long history. After reflecting over the past two weeks and hearing from our audience of national park lovers and outdoor advocates, we’ve further refined the five pillars of our outdoor diversity, equity, and inclusion plan and are pleased to share with you some of the initial steps we’ve taken. We look forward to providing updates on the progress we make as we further develop these partnerships and initiatives.

WE WILL BE:

1. LISTENING, EDUCATING, AND BREAKING THE SILENCE

2. FOCUSING ON PEOPLE

3. REVISITING THE VALUE CHAIN

4. INVESTING IN CHANGE

5. CREATING AN ADVISORY COUNCIL ON DIVERSITY, EQUITY, AND INCLUSION IN THE OUTDOORS


1. LISTENING, EDUCATING, AND BREAKING THE SILENCE

GOAL: ENGAGE 1 MILLION PEOPLE IN EDUCATION AND COMMUNITY BUILDING BY JANUARY 2021

We recognize it’s our responsibility to educate our community on the history and ongoing impact of systemic racism in the US, particularly in the outdoor industry at large. We’re partnering with leaders across the country from Black, Latinx, indigenous communities and more to make sure that the lands we love are spaces that people of color feel empowered and safe to visit.

 

As part of this initiative, we’re developing methods to better connect with our community and better understand what steps we need to take to work toward the goal of making nature and national parks spaces that are safe and accessible to all. We also know the importance of recognizing and sharing the fraught history of mistrust, displacement, and land dispossession of indigenous peoples in the development of national parks, a topic that is not typically given the attention it deserves.

2. FOCUSING ON PEOPLE

GOAL: EXAMINING OUR ENTIRE "PEOPLE" ECOSYSTEM AND TAKING CONCRETE ACTIONS TO BE INDUSTRY LEADERS IN MAKING MARGINALIZED COMMUNITIES LARGER STAKEHOLDERS IN OUR BUSINESS.

  • HIRING: We are committed to hiring a diverse workforce reflective of our broader community and creating an environment focused on equality, listening, and an ongoing desire to learn. We have conducted a diversity audit on our current hiring process to ensure it is free of biases, and we are now implementing best-practices in diverse hiring to build a team as that is more representative of our local community.
  • ARTISTS/CREATIVE CONTRACTORS: We work with dozens of artists and makers every year to support young talent, boutique makers, and freelance artists. Supporting art also includes funding diversity in art. We are committed to adding more Black and POC artists and makers into our ecosystem.
  • MODELS/INFLUENCERS: Over the last few months, we have ensured better representation of model diversity on our website and social media. This includes people of color and size-inclusivey. However, we can still do better. Both the modeling industry and influencer community are plagued by unequal compensation for equal work. We will ensure that hired models are always paid equal for photoshoots.
  • OPERATIONS GOAL: Most of our operations partners are here in our local community in Los Angeles. It is a diverse community of family-owned businesses, some who have been partners with us since day one. We understand that even in Los Angeles, labor is often exploited in garment factories, so we stay incredibly close to every part of our supply chain. We work with suppliers who only agree and adhere to our Parks Project Supplier Code of Conduct which requires all suppliers to follow local labor guidelines and that all employees are paid a living wage. If they don’t meet our standards, we will not do businesses with them.
  • RETAILERS: There is no hiding that the outdoor retail landscape is predominantly white. We are working on a plan of action to help support local, POC owned businesses while also ensuring that all major retailers we sell to maintain a set of standards, like diversity in representation and value alignment.
  • BUSINESS PARTNERS: As we partner with other businesses, we want to make sure that the changes we’re making internally are reflected in the partnerships we maintain. So, like our retailers, we will require our agencies to maintain a set of people-focused standards, like diversity in representation and value alignment.
  • PHOTOGRAPHERS: Most of our photoshoots are executed internally, but we occasionally hire photographers for field/travel/lifestyle images. We will ensure that Black and POC photographers make up an equal proportion of all outside photographic work.

We know that companies do not always look like the people they serve. We’re committing ourselves to hire diverse talent because we know their voices are fundamental to our industry and to ensuring that consultants and contributors to Parks Project better reflect the diverse people who visit national parks. From staff to suppliers, artists to vendors, we have looked at the makeup of those who work within and along with our company and are committed to investing in talent from people of color across all of the facets of our company.

 

While we are a small staff of just about twenty employees, we know that the businesses that invest in people are the ones that are most successful; we must make a concerted effort to build a more diverse network across all people who touch and who support our business.

3. REVISITING THE VALUE CHAIN

GOAL: PRODUCT FROM SUPPLIERS OR MAKERS OF COLOR ALWAYS REPRESENTED IN OUR PRODUCT LINE

We are looking at what vendors and suppliers we use, where our money is going, and thinking deeply about the steps we can take in how we incorporate Black-owned businesses into our commercial operations. We have also set ourselves the goal of incorporating a more inclusive and diverse product point of view in order to honor our commitment to making outdoor spaces more accessible, welcoming, and safe for the Black community and other communities of color. We’ve identified ways to do this, including selling merchandise made by Black makers, authors, and business owners as well as collaborating with organizations that give back to communities of color or that help connect communities of color to the outdoors and parklands.


4. INVESTING IN CHANGE

GOAL: ANNUALLY INVEST GRANTS TO ORGANIZATIONS THAT SUPPORT COMMUNITIES OF COLOR AND ASSIST WITH VOLUNTEERING AND SHARING RESOURCES

We have partnered with organizations that serve the Black community to provide them with grants to continue the essential work they do in creating change and opportunities for education and learning. Over the coming months, we’ll be partnering with the leaders of these organizations in order to leverage their knowledge to help our company and community evolve and be at the forefront of the change. The organizations we’ve partnered with focus on the outdoors as well as urban and regional parks, gardening, and other public spaces in predominantly Black neighborhoods.

Determined to change South Central Los Angeles from food desert to food forest, the Ron Finley Project focuses on educational, inspiring, and nutritious ways to get kids involved in gardening. The goal of the project is to sweep up and transform his neighborhood, his community, the city of LA, and communities everywhere.

Outdoor Afro has become the nation’s leading, cutting edge network that celebrates and inspires Black connections and leadership in nature. Outdoor Afro is a national non-profit organization with leadership networks around the country. With nearly 80 leaders in 30 states from around the country, they connect thousands of people to outdoor experiences and are changing the face of conservation.

PGM ONE envisions a world that centers, values, uplifts, and empowers those who are most impacted by environmental harm and climate change—and in particular Black, indigenous, and people of color/of the global majority—to lead the way toward environmental justice and collective liberation.

This community-inspired project will use the iconic Crenshaw Boulevard as a canvas and anchor for public art and streetscape design. Destination Crenshaw will be built for, by, and in honor of our community, and will celebrate the historical and contemporary contributions of Black Los Angeles —the largest Black community west of the Mississippi River.

5. CREATING AN ADVISORY COUNCIL ON DIVERSITY, EQUITY, AND INCLUSION IN THE OUTDOORS

GOAL: CREATE PAID ADVISORY COUNCIL WITH REPRESENTATIVES THAT INFLUENCE OUR POLICY AND BUSINESS FROM UNDERREPRESENTED COMMUNITIES; ADD THREE MORE MEMBERS BY 2021.

We have assembled an advisory council on diversity and inclusion in the outdoors to ensure that our business represents and amplifies the voices of people who have not been historically welcomed or encouraged to take part in the outdoors. As it stands, the board consists of the following members, with plans to expand within the coming year.

DR.LEN NECEFER

Founder of Natives Outdoors & Professor American Indian Studies & Public Policy at the University of Arizona

YANIRA CASTRO

Communications Director of Outdoor Afro

JOSÉ GONZÁLEZ

Executive Director of Latino Outdoors