A Grassroots Organization Aims To Get More Latinos Active In The Great Outdoors

At Latino Outdoors, passion for conservation is fostering community.

Photo by Veronica Miranda, courtesy of Latino Outdoors.

A 2015 poll of registered Latino voters showed environmental issues near the top of their list of greatest concerns. Yet, when it came to finding an outdoor space that felt welcoming and inclusive, José G. González felt there was much more work to be done.


“I thought, if I’m feeling like this and searching for a community, there must be others like me,” he says. “And I wondered, if there are others like me, where are they? How do I find them?”

With that, Latino Outdoors was formed to answer those simple questions. The Latino-led nonprofit has grown from a California-based organization to an international volunteer movement and is wholly focused on its comprehensive strategic plan to connect people interested in enjoying and preserving the environment and working to create a national community of leaders in conservation and outdoor education.

As part of this work, the group is focused on expanding and amplifying the Latino experience in the outdoors — providing greater opportunities for leadership, mentorship, and professional opportunities and serving as a platform for sharing cultural connections and narratives often overlooked by the traditional outdoor movement. By leading family campouts, hikes, climbing outings, and cleanups, the group is helping to create a safe and inclusive space for people to get outside and get active.

Photo by Carlos Jorge Miranda, courtesy of Latino Outdoors.

González encourages athletes of all ages and backgrounds to think about adding nature to their athletic pursuits: hiking, climbing, and mountain biking. A passionate public educator and environmentalist, he had become frustrated that he couldn’t find a central hub for like-minded nature enthusiasts. He bought the domain for what would become Latino Outdoors and wrote his first blog post.

“It’s a contradiction because we have a long history with conservation, and that’s why we say ‘estamos aqui’ — we are here,” he says. “And that’s why my story really resonated with people.”

González’s story particularly moved Richard Rojas Sr., a retired California State Parks District ranger and superintendent with more than 30 years of experience. Having gone camping as a teen, Rojas took a summer job at a state park in college and hasn’t looked back since.

“José had this vision to create a modern Sierra Club focused on Latino youth and families and love of the outdoors,” says Rojas, who now serves as chair of the Latino Outdoors advisory board. “And I knew how to navigate the bureaucracy.”

It was a match made in outdoor heaven. Externally, the state park system had been undergoing a process of renewal and needed guidance on how to move forward and reach new constituencies, among other issues.

Rojas believes Latino Outdoors can be a huge part of the solution in creating a brighter and more sustainable future at the state and national level, especially for the next generation of conservationists and athletes interested in using nature as a new source of inspiration.

“There’s rich opportunity in what I believe is the future in terms of public engagement with public agencies,” he says. “Creating access for people with disabilities, women of color in becoming a ranger, access to becoming a ranger; interacting with brands like Patagonia who are interested in growing their consumer constituency and diversity … and helping to support the next generation of environmental stewards at colleges and universities.”

Photo by Veronica Miranda, courtesy of Latino Outdoors.

A critical component of that engagement is sharing the experience with others.

Veronica and Carlos Miranda have been helping the organization at large do that. They’re both California natives, and Carlos first got involved with Latino Outdoors in 2016 while attending college, initially starting as a technology intern. He now serves as the national website and technology coordinator. His wife, Veronica, started attending hikes in 2017 before becoming the social media coordinator for the program, supporting the mission of inclusion in outdoor spaces through social media and the organization’s blog.

Perhaps most importantly, they’ve been able to share their experiences back at home too. Carlos says one of his most memorable moments as a child was driving through Mount Tamalpais in Northern California and going to Muir Woods or Stinson Beach. Now, he and Veronica get to share those memories — the sights, smells, and sounds — with their 6-year-old son.

“Being able to expose my son, Mayuteo, to the outdoors has been amazing,” says Veronica. “The look on his face when we explore a new open space is always filled with a smile. I think the best thing about experiencing the outdoors with my son is that we get to connect with the Earth and learn more about the ecosystems around us by observing what’s in the areas we visit. I try and teach him that it’s important that we leave the open spaces better than we found it so that other people can explore like we do.”

Sports
via Smithfly.com

"Seventy percent of the Earth is covered with water, now you camp on it!" proudly declares Smithfly on the website for its new camping boat — the Shoal Tent.

Why have we waited so long for camping equipment that actually lets us sleep on the water? Because it's an awful idea, that's why.

"The world is your waterbed," Smithfly says on its site. But the big difference is that no one has ever had to worry about falling asleep and then drowning on their waterbed.

RELATED: A ridiculous dad transformed Billie Eilish's 'Bad Guy' into a 3-minute long musical dad joke

While it is possible that one could wade into the water, unzip the tent, have a pleasant slumber, and wake up in the morning feeling safe and refreshed, there are countless things that could go terribly wrong.

The tent could float down the river and you wake up in the middle of nowhere.

You could have to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night.

This guy.

It could spring a leak and you could drown while wrapped up in eight feet of heavy nylon.

A strong current could tip the tent-boat over.

There isn't any way to steer the darn thing.

This guy.

Mashable shared a charming video of the tent on Twitter and it was greeted with a chorus of people sharing the many ways one could die while staying the night in the Shoal Tent.

Oh yeah, it's expensive, too.

Even though the general public seems to think the Shoal Tent is a terrible idea, according to the Smithfly's website, it's currently sold out due to "popular demand" and it will be "available in 6-8 weeks." Oh, and did we mention it costs $1,999?

Lifestyle
via zoezimmm / Imgur

There are few more perniciously dangerous conspiracy theories being shared online than the idea that vaccines cause autism.

This has led to a decline in Americans vaccinating their children, resulting in a massive increase in measles. This year has already seen over 1,200 cases of measles, a disease that was eradicated in the U.S. nearly 20 years ago.

A 2015 Pew Research study found that 83% of Americans think the measles vaccine is safe, while 9% think it's not. Another 7% are not sure. But when you look at the polls that include parents of minors, the numbers get worse, 13% believe that the measles vaccine is unsafe.

There is zero truth to the idea that vaccines cause autism. In fact, a recent study of over 650,000 children found there was no link whatsoever.

RELATED: A new study of over 650,000 children finds — once again — that vaccines don't cause autism

A great example of the lack of critical thinking shown by anti-vaxxers was a recent exchange on Facebook shared to Imgur by zoezimmm.

A parent named Kenleigh at a school in New Mexico shared a photo of a sign at reads: "Children will not be enrolled unless an immunization record is presented and immunizations are up-to-date."

This angered a Facebook user who went on a senseless tirade against vaccinations.

"That's fine, I'll just homeschool my kids," she wrote. At least they won't have to worry about getting shot up in school or being bullied, or being beat up / raped by the teachers!"

To defend her anti-vaccination argument, she used a factually incorrect claim that Amish people don't vaccinate their children. She also incorrectly claimed that the MMR vaccine is ineffective and used anecdotal evidence from her and her father to claim that vaccinations are unnecessary.

She also argued that "every human in the world is entitled to their own opinion." Which is true, but doesn't mean that wildly incorrect assumptions about health should be tolerated.

She concluded her argument with a point that proves she doesn't care about facts: "It doesn't matter what you say is not going to change my mind."

RELATED: 12 medical professionals shared their most memorable anti-vaxxer stories and you won't stop face-palming

While the anti-vaxxer was incorrect in her points, it must also be pointed out that some of the people who argued with her on Facebook were rude. That should never be tolerated in this type of discourse, but unfortunately, that's the world of social media.

Here's the entire exchange:

via zoezimmm / imgur


via zoezimmm / imgur


via zoezimmm / imgur


via zoezimmm / imgur


via zoezimmm / imgur


via zoezimmm / imgur


via zoezimmm / imgur


via zoezimmm / imgur


via zoezimmm / imgur


via zoezimmm / imgur

The post received a ton of responses on imgur. Here are just a few:

"'In my opinion...' 'I believe...' That's not how facts work."

"You're entitled to your opinion. And everyone else is entitled to call you a dumbass."

"'What I do with my children is no concern to you at all.' Most of the time, true. When your kid might give mine polio, not true."

"If my child can't bring peanut butter, your child shouldn't bring preventable diseases."

It's important to call out people who spread dangerous views, especially how they pertain to health, on social media. But people should do so with respect and civility.

Health

He photographed Nazi atrocities and buried the negatives. The unearthed images are unforgettable.

He risked his life to leave a "historical record of our martyrdom."

via Yad Vashem and Archive of Modern Conflict, 2007

In September 1939, the Nazis invaded Poland. By April 1940, the gates closed on the Lodz Ghetto, the second largest in the country after Warsaw.

Throughout the war, over 210,000 people would be imprisoned in Lodz.

Among those held captive was Henryk Ross. He was a Jewish sports photographer before the Nazi invasion and worked for the the ghetto's Department of Statistics during the war. As part of his official job, he took identification photos of the prisoners and propaganda shots of Lodz' textile and leather factories.

Keep Reading Show less
Communities
via Imgur

Every few years there's something that goes mega viral because people can't decide what it is.

There was the famous "is it blue and black, or white and gold" dress?

There was the audio recording that said either "yanny" or "Laurel."

Keep Reading Show less
Viral


Rochester NY Airport Security passing insulting notes to travelers caught on tape www.youtube.com

Neil Strassner was just passing through airport security, something he does on a weekly basis as part of his job. That's when a contract airport security employee handed him a small piece of folded cardboard. Strassner, 40, took the paper and continued on his way. He only paused when he heard the security employee shouting back at him, "You going to open the note?"

When he unfolded the small piece of paper, Strassner was greeted with an unprompted insult. "You ugly!!!"

According to Strassner, and in newly released CCTV of the incident, the woman who handed him the note began laughing loudly.

Keep Reading Show less
popular