TPL Equity and Belonging Director Ronda Lee Chapman asks a lot of questions. She’s inquisitive, probing, and always curious to know how our organization and our work can be more inclusive. And she asks her questions of people who have unique and important insights—but who aren’t always engaged or asked to lead on matters of conservation policy and best practice. Her guests on the podcast bring lived experiences to a discussion of why the outdoors haven’t been a safe space for many people and ways we can change that.

In the first three episodes, her guests share countless pearls of wisdom. Here’s a sampling.


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In her introduction to the podcast series, Chapman explains that access is only one challenge. Expanding our approaches to encourage and support people getting outside—on their terms—is the next. And it will require some big ideas about how we can rethink conservation and what it means to have quality outdoor experiences.

Listen to the introduction


For our first guest, Tykee James, birding is about a lot more than catching a glimpse of a rare winged friend or building an impressive list of sightings. Birding is a unique outdoor activity, says, James, because, while you’re observing wildlife, you connect instantly to the movement of people and to the history of land. There’s something special when we recognize that and think about the deeper question of how we got here. It puts us in a better position to figure out what we do next. And what’s next for James is an organization called the Freedom Birders, a group and a movement inspired by the Freedom Riders of the 1960s civil rights movement. Like the Riders, the Birders are starting by building a coalition and gaining solidarity. The next step: expand racial justice by addressing barriers in the outdoors and in the environmental movement . . . and eventually changing the way we all look at birds.

Listen to Episode 1



But there’s also biophobia, which is the fear of nature. There are entire groups of people who feel it acutely, says Ronda’s guest Mickey Fearn. In the case of Black Americans, he attributes biophobia to years, centuries, of bloodline disruption, which he explains in the episode. For years, the former deputy director of the National Park Service has been seeking to understand how a group of people who had a profound relationship to nature in their ancestral environment and were, in fact, brought to this country because of that understanding of nature and their ability to thrive in it, came to develop fear of or ambivalence to nature. “We need to provide the discovery experiences that instill and keep the biophilia alive. We need to provide the experiences that sustain biophilia and not let biophobia in.”

Listen to Episode 2



One of TPL’s Community Outreach with Residential Experts fellows, Jeresneyka Rose came to her position in Colorado Springs with lived experience as valuable to local residents as a degree in urban planning. That’s because she not only understands her neighbors needs and desires for their outdoor spaces, but she holds their trust. She believes that is part of TPL’s secret sauce of community engagement—that, combined with creating a platform and a space for local residents to bring their big ideas to the decisions that will affect them every day.

Listen to Episode 3




Like Rose, Chris Urias identifies as many things, not just his race or familial nationality. For him and for the other guests on the podcast, one of the most important big ideas for moving our society toward equity in all things, not just outdoor access, is the recognition and embrace of intersectionality. We all have skin color. We all have relationships with the outdoors. We all have unique experiences with and preferences for our time in nature. The place where all of those things intersect is where the conservation world needs to meet each of us in order to make the outdoors accessible to all.

Listen to Episode 3



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