Dartmouth Outing Club hosts second annual outdoor inclusivity conference

The All Outside conference, which ran from Feb. 22 to Feb. 26, aimed to provide students with the opportunity to learn new skills, listen to speakers and discuss diversity and inclusion in the outdoors.

by Emilia Williams | 2/28/23 5:05am

Source: Courtesy of Alex Wells '22

The second annual All Outside conference — the Dartmouth Outing Club’s annual conference on equity and inclusion in the outdoors — ran from Feb. 22 to Feb. 26. The conference was hosted by the Diversity, Inclusion, Justice & Equity division of the DOC — a sub-club that focuses on making the DOC “more welcoming and accessible to all,” according to their website — and was organized by Diane Chen ’26, Grace Connolly ’25 and Fiona Hood ’26. The event consisted of outdoor skill sessions, speakers, discussions, a dinner and beginner-friendly outdoor trips, Hood said.

The conference kicked off with a pizza dinner in One Wheelock, where Michael Burns ’26 spoke about All Outside’s goals of fostering inclusivity for marginalized communities and attendees discussed their experiences with inclusivity in the outdoors. All Outside also included beginner skills sessions that provided an opportunity for participants to learn how to complete tasks such as tying knots or packing a frame pack.

“On one side, we’re trying to get people who are already super involved with the DOC to reflect on how the DOC might not be the most inclusive place ever, and how we can make it a more inclusive place,” Chen said. “The flip side of that is we wanted to engage people who aren’t involved in the DOC at all to try to show up [and] try to get more involved because the outdoors has a lot to offer.”

The conference’s speaker lineup included Mardi Fuller — the first Black person to hike all 48 of New Hampshire’s high peaks in winter — social justice researcher KangJae Lee, outdoors leader and teacher Brittany Leavitt and Indigenous peoples advocate Rich Holschuh. Each speaker focused on a different aspect of increasing diversity, equity and inclusion in outdoor spaces. 

According to Chen and Hood, Fuller spoke on the importance of racial equity in the outdoors and how white supremacy obstructs access to nature. According to Chen, Holschuh hosted a discussion on Saturday titled “Place Matters: Stories from the Land” about the language, culture and land of the Abenaki — the Indigenous tribe on whose land Dartmouth sits. In her event, Leavitt spoke about creating pathways allowing everyone to access the outdoor industry. 

In his talk, Lee discussed how current unequal access to the outdoors can be traced to historical patterns of racial injustice. He said that it is important to consider “whose history we learn and are taught” in schools, and how that defines the narrative about the parks system in the United States. He also discussed how leaders of color in the outdoors have been historically overlooked, calling for “more environmental and parks leaders of color” as a solution to disparities. 

“How can we make natural environments more accessible for a large amount of people in our country? This is something that we always need to wrestle with for the next years to come,” Lee said.

Maya Beauvineau ’26, who attended Lee’s event, said the talk helped to fill an educational gap.

“[It was] a great first step for dismantling these systems of segregation and inequity in access to national parks since there is a general lack of education about it,” Beauvineau said. “We just need to talk about how the lack of accessibility is systemic and has its roots in history.”

According to Hood, All Outside’s goal has been to continue the work of last year’s inaugural conference by improving access to the outdoors among underrepresented communities. Chen added that the planners aim to build a sustainable model for the conference that they can reproduce every year.

The conference also included an outdoor gear raffle and beginner-friendly trips hosted by a variety of sub-clubs within the DOC, such as a hike on Gile Mountain and a winter skills session at Mount Cardigan, according to the conference website. 

All Outside concluded with a home-cooked feed on Sunday evening, which gave attendees an opportunity to reflect on the events and activities of the conference, Chen said.  

“The reasoning behind having a conference … [is that it is] a culmination of conversations we’ve been having and more of a physical event that people outside of the club can come to,” Chen said.

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