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In Here We Stand, a new film from the Outbound Collective and Wondercamp, influencers, outdoor advocates, and conservationists of color take a hike through Save the Redwoods League’s new property—Harold Richardson Redwood Preserve—to discuss diversity on public lands.
[MUSIC PLAYING] SAM HODDER: John Steinbeck called them ambassadors from another time. They are the tallest trees in the world. They grow nowhere other than here.
SPEAKER: You get that humility of being among these incredible giants that have been around for millions of years.
SPEAKER: I feel so full of gratitude.
SPEAKER: I just feel a whole lot healthier.
SPEAKER: It's a privilege to be out here.
SPEAKER: They're just powerful.
SPEAKER: It just feels really alive being here.
It humbles you. Man, this right here is like the closest you can get to like magic.
SAM HODDER: The redwood forest is unique around the world. And when we were founded 101 years ago, it was at a time when the rate of harvest of the redwood forest was extraordinary.
Save the Redwoods League learned about a remnant stand of old growth that was hidden.
SPEAKER: For years there were whispers of a hidden grove nestled in the hills above California's Sonoma Coast, a mythical place where you could walk among giants, the stuff of legend until now.
ANTHONY CASTANOS: It blew my mind when we got this under contract because I had heard that it was old growth. I've heard that term thrown around very loosely. This is 700 acres of old growth redwood. There is nothing else like this that's still unprotected.
SPEAKER: Some of the redwoods in this forest have been around since before California was a state, before the fall of the Roman Empire, and they're still growing.
SAM HODDER: The redwood forest is 600, 700-year-old trees. But dappled in that forest, there are three or four monsters that are over 1,500 years old. There's one tree out there that is 1,647 years old. It's the oldest Coast Redwood tree south of Mendocino County, and we didn't even know it was there.
TERESA BAKER: Save the Redwoods League posted on Facebook. I started reading up on it. And I was like, oh, that'd the awesome. I sent an email to Sam.
SAM HODDER: I got an email from Teresa a little while after we'd announced the purchase.
TERESA BAKER: In that email, I asked, I'm aware of this reserve that you guys are about to introduce to the public. Give it to me. Let me do it with a group of people from underrepresented communities. And he said, let's talk about.
Go to social media. Pull up any brand. What images do you see? More than likely, they are not people who look like me. That's the why. I think all too often people forget that communities of color have always been in the outdoors. But through generations, some of us have been removed.
These are people that work on these issues day in and day out, but you don't see us. We're in the background having these conversations. We're not out front, and that's the problem.
SAM HODDER: Let me welcome you all here. My name's Sam Hodder, and we are standing on the ancestral territory of the Kashia Band of the Pomo.
Teresa's assembled a group of community leaders, outdoor advocates.
TERESA BAKER: You have people from various underrepresented communities that can speak heavily to these issues, sharing why it's important that they are represented.
ANTHONY CASTANOS: It's not just one group of people that are using these public spaces. There's so many ways that the forest serves different populations of people, and we want to incorporate that in what we do going forward.
SAM HODDER: This is really the first opportunity to welcome a community into this property. We recognize that we have a lot to learn, and today's a big part of that.
What an amazing opportunity to learn from one another about how to deliver that public value in a new day.
SPEAKER: When the white man first came to North America, a great part of the continent was called in majestic forest.
SAM HODDER: If we go to the mid-1840s, there were 2.2 million acres of old growth Coast Redwood forest that really defined California's coastline.
SPEAKER: Trees flourished in countless numbers.
SAM HODDER: All of a sudden, the gold rush.
SPEAKER: The loggers slashed into the virgin forests with little or no thought for the future.
SAM HODDER: San Francisco and other Bay Area cities started to grow, and the population numbers were exploding.
SPEAKER: And all in a day's work, over goes the top of this tree.
SAM HODDER: From small little communities sprung a full fledged city in a matter of a decade.
SPEAKER: Then, they begin their cutting.
SAM HODDER: And it was a city built entirely out of redwood.
SPEAKER: Cutting their way into trees that may be as old as our civilization, for the redwood trees of California are probably the oldest of living things.
SAM HODDER: The old growth Coast Redwood we came really close to losing altogether.
ALEJANDRA IRAHETA: It was just so cool.
ENDRIA RICHARDSON: Being in the woods with a bunch of people of color, that's just magical.
ALEJANDRA IRAHETA: I just really think we just need to acknowledge that, you know, folks of color have always been a part of the conservation movement.
KENJA GRIFFIN: I have been pioneering as a person of color in the outdoors since 1996, and I still get under the breath of remarks, where people say something really racially aggressive and offensive.
AMANDA JAMESON: The more we show that we're out here and that we've always been out here, the easier that I certainly hope that it will be for folks coming after.
SPEAKER: Yeah, that's from the, she said, great horned owl that lives up there.
SPEAKER: There's a big one. See you that one right there?
SPEAKER: Yeah, oh boy.
RAHAWA HAILE: I would say that this is a forest built on resilience, that this is a forest of consistent regeneration. And I think there's a lot of hope in that.
SUMMER WINSTON: It's just a reminder that we are standing together, holding each other, kind of like these trees are.
SHERMAN DEAN: Yeah. See, this is tight. I can't even touch both sides of this.
SHAANDIIN CEDAR: The land is like so ingrained into our identity.
MICHAEL ESTRADA: When we're talking the conservation, often, it's been approached from let's remove people. Let's move indigenous people.
SHERMAN DEAN: And that disconnect, I feel like, is a piece of how we lose our identity.
MIHO AIDA: I think that's a big shift we need to make as a whole community. How can we protect this place with people?
ENDRIA RICHARDSON: That is just is such a cool feeling.
SAM HODDER: The service that our parks are providing, redwoods and beyond, are fundamental to a healthy society and livable communities. Re-imagining how we welcome a diverse public is fundamental to that.
ALEJANDRA IRAHETA: To be not only invited in, but to be welcomed in.
SUMMER WINSTON: It's putting the message out there that this space is your space.
ALEJANDRO LOZANO: For sure, it felt really safe. It gave me a lot of hope because there's people trying to do things differently.
MIHO AIDA: It feels that I'm seen, and I'm valued.
ALEJANDRA IRAHETA: It's an honor and also like, why doesn't this happen more?
RAHAWA HAILE: There was just a lot of honesty and open conversation.
SHERMAN DEAN: It really is a step in reconnecting folks to their roots, a big piece of what I feel like is missing, especially in my community.
KENJA GRIFFIN: It's still making me smile is so.
ANTHONY CASTANOS: It can, for many people, seem like a box checking exercise, where we're just saying we talked to these people, great. We did it. Let's go back to what we always do. This is going to impact how I do my job.
SUMMER WINSTON: Without having proper equity in spaces, it's going to continue to reinforce systematic racism.
ALEJANDRO LOZANO: So re-including these voices and reclaiming that space for ourselves is essentially the way to move forward.
MIGUEL MARQUEZ: We need future leaders that represent the communities that we look to.
MIHO AIDA: So that we can all be the stakeholder to make sure this place is going to last.
SHERMAN DEAN: You have this awesomeness coming from so many different places.
SUMMER WINSTON: If that can happen, then that can change everything on a systematic level.
TERESA BAKER: So I think it's important that people see us. They see beyond the lens they've always looked through when they see someone who cares about the ocean, the mountains, and the forest. And they see me. They see Jose. They see Amanda.
SAM HODDER: It's time for us to re-imagine the role that our parks play in a very different California. We want to be a partner in that.
TERESA BAKER: We all exist on the same planet. And as a collective, we can all do this together.