Not quite a year ago I was fortunate enough to be selected to join Governor Brown’s advisory task force for the newly created Office of Outdoor Recreation. It has been a great experience so far, I have met many interesting people and have had a chance to represent our industry with a seat at the table. Now I don’t know how everyone else came to be on this task force, but for me it was about 6 – 8 months of lobbying on my part and two interviews to get invited. My reason for being on this task force is to provide my perspective as a business person, and one who regularly enjoys outdoor recreation but invariably in situations like this, I find that I get a lot more than I feel like I contribute.
There are about 30 people in our task force, I have never actually counted, but that sounds like about the right number. 30 people and 65 opinions I like to say and we are a diverse group, LGBTQ, several minority groups, native Americans, some disabled and about equal numbers of men and women. I was at a meeting a few months ago and we had some presentations in the afternoon. Two young men stood up and right away announced they were Gay and then went on to describe what a typical camping experience can be for them. Then our chairman, who is black, revealed the same type of experience, and then another of our task force who is both female and disabled described her outdoor experience and what it is like to go to a camp site supposedly ADA compliant but has been designed by someone who has no idea how she experiences the outdoors.
It was a revelation to me, I have never been asked by any other camper who I intend to sleep with that night, I have never been afraid to go camping, and I have two good legs to go tromping around wherever I choose, whenever I choose. As a white man living in the United States of America, the most powerful country on earth, I am among the most privileged people walking this planet. I don’t make apologies for that, but what I do realize is that I can be blind to the fact that someone else’s experience is not the same as mine because of my fortunate circumstances. It is that blindness that I do apologize for and it has been the biggest thing I have learned from this experience so far. On our task force, we constantly have EDI as the backdrop of every decision we make, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion. I believe in that and I believe as a society we are better off the more we practice that, like a delicious soup where all the ingredients add just the right amount of flavor to make the whole better than its parts. Just wanted you to know and think.
Have a great weekend everybody.