Latino Out­doors


LATINO OUT­DOORS’ na­tional di­rec­tor, out­door­swoman Gabriela Ca­bello, wants to bring more di­ver­sity to climb­ing. The group’s story be­gan in 2013, when af­ter un­suc­cess­fully try­ing to en­ter the con­ser­va­tion field, its founder José González re­al­ized that Lati­nos were vastly un­der­rep­re­sented in the outdoor world. So he started a blog to en­gage the Latino com­mu­nity in outdoor recre­ation, stew­ard­ship, and policy. The first Latino Out­doors group out­ings hap­pened in Cal­i­for­nia in 2014, and by 2017, there were 40 vol­un­teer lead­ers in 14 U.S. re­gions. With more than 55 mil­lion His­pan­ics mak­ing up 17 per­cent of the U.S. pop­u­la­tion, get­ting Lati­nos in­volved in the outdoor world, and in climb­ing specif­i­cally, is more im­por­tant than ever, es­pe­cially in to­day’s po­lit­i­cal cli­mate. We spoke to Ca­bello about Latino Out­doors’ pres­ence in the climb­ing com­mu­nity.

What do you do for Latino Out­doors?

I work with José on ex­e­cut­ing the mission and vision of the or­ga­ni­za­tion. To­gether, we sup­port the vol­un­teers with their re­gional pro­grams and events, like snow­shoe or kayak out­ings, hikes, fam­ily cam­pouts, group runs, yoga in the park, and in­door rock climb­ing. Our work fo­cuses on grow­ing our over­all ca­pac­ity and im­pact through fundrais­ing, man­ag­ing grants, es­tab­lish­ing part­ner­ships with con­ser­va­tion or­ga­ni­za­tions and outdoor re­tail­ers, and ev­ery­thing else it takes to run a non­profit.

What does Latino Out­doors do specif­i­cally?

We’re fo­cused on three key ar­eas. The first is in sup­port­ing Latino lead­er­ship in the out­doors and con­ser­va­tion by build­ing a strong net­work of outdoor lead­ers and pro­vid­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties for pro­fes­sional de­vel­op­ment. The sec- ond is grow­ing Latino en­gage­ment in outdoor spaces and pub­lic lands by lead­ing out­ings. The third is the sto­ry­telling com­po­nent. We want to en­sure our com­mu­nity has a voice and a plat­form to share our cul­tural and his­tor­i­cal con­nec­tions to na­ture and the out­doors, so we cu­rate sto­ries and cre­ate con­tent for our web­site ( lati­noout and so­cial me­dia chan­nels.

Why is get­ting more Lati­nos out­side im­por­tant, es­pe­cially to try a sport like climb­ing?

Hav­ing ac­cess to na­ture is a ba­sic hu­man need and right. From a health per­spec­tive, Lati­nos and peo­ple of color tend to have less ac­cess to green space while also hav­ing the high­est rates of obe­sity and di­a­betes. It’s im­por­tant for every­one to un­der­stand how our pub­lic parks, lands, and open spaces ex­ist to sup­port health­ier life­styles and stronger com­mu­ni­ties. Climb­ing tends to have more bar­ri­ers to en­try: It’s ex­pen­sive, tech­ni­cal, and re­stricted by lo­ca­tion, and a part­ner or men­tor is nec­es­sary. Even when you re­move the eco­nomic bar­ri­ers, there are still so­cial and cul­tural bar­ri­ers. We have a small group of climbers who en­cour­age par­tic­i­pa­tion in the sport by at­tend­ing events like the Women’s Climb­ing Fes­ti­val and the Red Rock Ren­dezvous. It’s im­por­tant for our com­mu­nity to see them­selves re­flected in th­ese spaces.

It’s also crit­i­cal to the con­ser­va­tion and en­vi­ron­men­tal move­ment. Lati­nos are the fastest-grow­ing U.S. de­mo­graphic, and di­ver­sity in the out­doors and get­ting more peo­ple of color en­gaged is the key to cre­at­ing more ad­vo­cates, stew­ards, and cham­pi­ons, and en­sur­ing con­ser­va­tion re­mains rel­e­vant for fu­ture gen­er­a­tions.

How does Latino Out­doors fit into the larger climb­ing com­mu­nity?

The climb­ing com­mu­nity is evolv­ing. I’ve seen the de­mo­graph­ics change with gyms open­ing up all over metropoli­tan ar­eas. I see Latino Out­doors as a sup­port­ive plat­form to help with re­sources for those want­ing to learn in a gym or tran­si­tion to outdoor climb­ing. We have part­ners who want to sup­port di­ver­sity, but it’s not al­ways easy for or­ga­ni­za­tions to do out­reach to com­mu­ni­ties of color. It’s much more di­rect to reach out to an es­tab­lished group or or­ga­ni­za­tion [like Latino Out­doors]. This month, our co­or­di­na­tor, Ana Beatriz-Cholo, is work­ing with Moun­tain Gear and the Amer­i­can Alpine In­sti­tute on a di­ver­sity ini­tia­tive for the Red Rock Ren­dezvous. Paul Fish, pres­i­dent and CEO of Moun­tain Gear, and Ja­son Martin, di­rec­tor of op­er­a­tions at Amer­i­can Alpine In­sti­tute, have been work­ing with us to fig­ure out how we can col­lec­tively im­pact such events.


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