Birder's Guide

MAY 2015

Birder's Guide is the American Birding Association's newest publication. Each issue focuses on a key subject, providing tips from experienced birders on a wide variety of topics like Travel, Listing & Taxonomy, Gear, and Conservation & Community.

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Page 31 of 35

30 Birder's Guide to Conservation & Community | May 2015 Beyond Diversity Shaming S ver the past fve years since starting Outdoor Afro as a blog, I have been both honored and delighted to be on a journey alongside countless others to discover what it takes for more people to get connected to nature. Around the same time I began Outdoor Afro, I had the privilege of working at the Golden Gate Audubon Society in the San Francisco Bay Area where I live. It was there I discovered the power and pleasure of seeing and hearing birds. But without a professional background in environmental educa- tion, I found myself for the frst time working along- side people who called themselves conservationists. The term "birder" was an entirely new concept for me. I was opened up to a world of people previously invisible to me who were as kind as they were pas- sionate to learn about, protect, and enjoy birds and other wildlife—sometimes for marathon lengths of time, and over thousands of miles. And nearly all of them happened to be white. You see, while I grew up in a black nature-loving household that especially enjoyed wildlife, my parents never once used the word "con- servation", thought of themselves as birders, or joined a club that celebrated these themes. I also have to admit that I did not grow up with the legends of Rachel Carson or likes of John Muir. But instead we had Harriet Tubman, who was a wilderness leader in her own right, getting hun- dreds through safe passage across rugged night ter- rain illuminated only by stars. And I had George Washington Carver, who blazed a path using envi- ronmental intellect and know-how that introduced an early national vernacular of recycling and how to otherwise live in harmony with the natural world. As my work expanded, I located and befriended people who looked like me and identifed as birders, including Dr. J. Drew Lanham, Douglas Grey, Dud- ley Edmondson, John C. Robinson, and later from London, England, The Urban Birder David Lindo, among many more passionate bird educators and enthusiasts of many hues. With the thought partnership of these individuals, I was helped to discern what belonging in the envi- ronmental movement was about. We pondered "What activities count—or not?" and "What defnes being in or out?" I quickly came to realize that images say a lot about who is believed to be included in any given O " If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him… We need not wait to see what others do. " —Mahatma Gandhi Outdoor Afros on a hike in the redwoods in Oakland, California. Photo © Rue Mapp

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