One hundred and twelve years after Teddy Roosevelt and John Muir met in Yosemite to discuss an idea for a national parks system, a group of conservationists gathered in the park earlier this month to hash out how to keep the parks relevant in the face of an increasingly urbanized population. About 30 men and women attended the meeting, called the Muir Campfire Discussion on Diversity and Relevancy, to discuss how outdoor recreation and environmentalism can be more inclusive.
“As two different people as [Muir and Roosevelt] were, Yosemite gave them the place to create solutions and have discussions that would speak to future generations,” Robert Hanna, Muir’s great great grandson, told High Country News. “We now find ourselves going back to the exact same place to address head-on the serious issues of our time.”
As HCN reports, minorities, millennials, and city dwellers aren’t as likely to visit national parks as white suburban baby boomers. Meeting attendees hailed from agencies including the National Park Service, the U.S. Forest Service, Sierra Club, and the Center for Diversity and the Environment and from various backgrounds and ethnicities.
The group tossed around ideas for three days on how to improve inclusiveness in the outdoors, including outreach to historically black universities, community colleges, churches, and youth groups and the Boys and Girls Club of America. The attendees also acknowledged the need to adapt the dynamics of their organizations to promote more engagement among their target audiences.
“The lasting hope for this summit is to have tangible solutions in place that are cost effective, so that one less obstacle is in place for diversity and inclusion in outdoor spaces,” Theresa Baker, organizer of the conference and leader of the grassroots group African American National Parks Event, told the Huffington Post before the meeting.