In praise of the great outdoors, wherever that may be for you

In praise of the great outdoors, wherever that may be for you

July 4, 2022 0 By Ellen Novack

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I’m truly lucky to live in one of the most beautiful places on the planet.

Sometimes I think the only thing keeping me alive in the face of an ongoing pandemic, intensifying climate crisis, and many, many more issues worsening with a swiftness is the outdoors. I’m not saying I’m holding onto this mortal coil for dear life, but instead that I see meaning in the life I’m living thanks to my surroundings. I can think of so many moments when clearing my head meant a walk to the river, a run on the Lafitte Greenway, or getting away even farther and exploring more of the place I love and call home. Once I’ve hit the road and I’m walking through the swamps of the Barataria Preserve, it’s like the chaos of the world cannot reach me. Mosquitos can, which isn’t great since they inexplicably love me, but my worries are just as small as they are when I’m out in nature. Quite literally taking a hike is the only way I can imagine celebrating this 4th of July.

Exploring nature is something I’ve only recently come around to in my adult life, and that may be because often the folks we assume are hitting the trails are their own stereotype. Typically, the most visible people heading outdoors are white, cis, able-bodied, and have enough money to afford the luxury of time and equipment for all sorts of terrain. But a whole host of grassroots and more formal organizations are making it possible for people from a diversity of backgrounds to feel more comfortable when they head out into nature. Field Magazine has a great resource for BIPOC groups blazing a trial—I’m personally obsessed with Latino Outdoors. The publication also offers great resources for LGBTQ+ hikers. And disability advocates can take comfort in the amazing work Disabled Hikers is doing, though certainly more can be done so that all are welcome to this space.



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