Local nonprofits Get Outdoors Leadville! (GOL!) and the Cloud City Conservation Center (C4) received grants from Colorado Parks and Wildlife recognizing their efforts to create outdoor equity.
GOL! is using $70,750 to fund its new program Afuera Sin Barreras, which translates to Outdoors without Barriers. Afuera Sin Barreras aims to bring outdoor recreation opportunities to historically marginalized groups in the community who may encounter financial, language and transportation barriers.
As part of Afuera Sin Barreras, GOL! is hosting a series of “Spanish-first” events outdoors each month from March to November. The events cover a wide range of activities including cross-country skiing, hiking and archery, to name a few. During the most recent event on May 20, the group enjoyed a hike through Hayden Meadows complete with rock-skipping and bird watching.
Spanish-first events mean organizers and staff primarily communicate in Spanish and provide English interpretation when needed.
“This is a family-oriented program,” said Community Programs Manager Brayhan Reveles. “Everyone can come out regardless of their experience level outside.”
Another big focus of Afuera Sin Barreras is activating and introducing more neighborhood-based programming. This means bringing transportation to communities outside of town such as the manufactured home parks where there are higher Latino populations.
To accomplish this, GOL! is inviting up to eight community members, or “promotores,” who speak Spanish as their first language to attend events and spread awareness about them. Two involved so far are Koritza Cruz and Luisa Porras, and GOL! has space for six more.
“This promotes community knowledge and expertise so we can provide culturally relevant activities,” said Reveles of the promotores initiative. “You never want to do something for the community. You want to do it with the community so it’s successful and sustainable.”
Afuera Sin Barreras and GOL!’s overall mission is inspired in part by ongoing research and community engagement related to recreation, some of which Reveles played a key role in. Back in high school, Reveles joined a youth research team and heard more about what community members needed and were missing by interviewing parents and children outside their homes.
One big takeaway was a desire for community members to really enjoy where they live and get involved with the community. Providing outdoor recreation opportunities and removing cost and financial barriers is one way to accomplish this.
Growing up in Leadville, Reveles experienced these challenges first hand and remembers looking out at the mountains surrounding him and wondering what was really out there. It wasn’t until he joined the high school mountain bike team that he finally explored the terrain surrounding him.
One exciting part of the Afuera Sin Barreras programming has been raffling off tickets for gear like jackets, snow pants and sleeping bags, as well as tickets to Tabor Opera House events this summer.
Information about upcoming events will be posted on GOL!’s social media channels. Anyone interested in getting involved in Afuera Sin Barreras or becoming a promotor can email firstname.lastname@example.org or call GOL! at 719-297-1769.
C4 received $25,000 from the Outdoor Equity Grant program back in September, which went toward general operating funds that support various programs such as energy assistance, community composting and the Cloud City Farm.
“Part of outdoor equity is acknowledging that there are other barriers to engaging in the outdoors and ways to support the environment beyond what’s traditional,” said C4 Executive Director Emily Olsen. “We’re engaging community members in hands-on outdoor education while also addressing food access.”
Providing the public with hands-on farming and composting experience is how C4 helps everyone get outdoors and improve their environment for little to no cost, as farm food is donation-based.
C4 also received the grant because of its efforts to reduce impacts from environmental issues on low-income community members, who are disproportionately affected by them.
For instance, climate change impacts such as flooding and drought affect food production and therefore drive up costs. Another example is how decreasing air quality affects low-income communities more because they are less likely to be able to afford air purifying systems.
Part of the C4 Energy Program provides solar energy through the Xcel Energy grid for people who otherwise wouldn’t be able to access it in their current homes or apartments.
“I think it’s really great that the state is focusing more on equity and how it intersects with and affects everything,” said Olsen. “C4 has taken a different approach to these issues than other conservation centers. We’re still the only one in Colorado that can pay past due utility bills, so to receive support for that work is really exciting.”
More information about C4’s programs and upcoming events can be found online at C4leadville.org.
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