Trekking For Diversity - Meeting Love Is King

Trekking For Diversity - Meeting Love Is King

This February, CNOC Outdoors is excited to partner with Love is King to raise money and awareness for their cause. 10% of all trekking poles sales through February will be used to support Love Is King and their mission.

Love is King is a Portland based non-profit that was started in 2020 by Navy veteran Chad Brown. Love is King believes that the freedom to roam in nature is a basic human right, and they work to squash fear in the outdoors and to provide equitable access and resolute safety to ensure an enriching and exhilarating experience in nature. We couldn’t agree more and look forward to this partnership.

Chad Brown founded Love is King in 2020 in the midst of the aftermath of George Floyd’s killing. It was Chad’s response to the question so many people were asking him then: “What can I do in the fight against racism? How can I be part of the solution?” The organization leads with the mission to dismantle the hate, bigotry, ignorance and racism in the outdoors for BIPOC and all marginalized groups to have the opportunity to roam further and bolder in the outdoors and create wonderful memories for themselves without having to face any aggression.

Letter to the people of the United States by Chad Brown, October 2020.

We spoke with Love is King founder Chad Brown about the work they are doing. Please take a look at what the organization is up to and our conversation below, and join us in supporting the important work that Love is King is doing to help Diversify the Outdoors.

What is Love is King?

Love Is King is a non-profit founded in 2020 by U.S. Navy Veteran Chad Brown.

Love Is King was started with the recognition of the systemic racism and oppression people of color have faced generation after generation, including in outdoor spaces. While recreating and spending time outdoors have incredible health benefits, both physically and mentally, history shows that people of color have not had equal opportunity and access to these spaces.

What do you do and what is your goal?

Love Is King views access to the outdoors as a human right, knowing that all people deserve to benefit from what nature has to offer. Our mission is to create a humanitarian movement, through love, empathy and respect, where all children, families and communities of color can have equitable and safe access to the outdoors.

Love is King’s Goals:

  1. Increase participation of BIPOC communities in outdoor activities, starting in Oregon and beyond.
  2. Establish safe sanctuaries in Portland's parks for BIPOC communities using Love is King's Stalwarts of Safety (SOS) program.
  3. Identify 15 BIPOC leaders who will participate in Operation Roam 2022 and will represent their communities in our conservation efforts.

What are your initiatives?

We consider our goals and initiatives to be moral obligations that require 100% effort. We must encourage people to take action to ensure that people of color are guaranteed freedom to roam in nature with the assurance of a welcoming, safe and inspiring experience in the outdoors: recreating, hunting, fishing, camping and hiking in the backcountry wilderness, public lands and urban parks. We’re on a mission to activate and empower a humanitarian movement that will mobilize citizens of all colors to carry out our humanitarian obligation. This effort will raise our collective consciousness, educate and help facilitate conflict resolution through love, empathy, respect, and a true sense of personal responsibility without discrimination. We will ensure people of color’s personal stories, images, experiences, history, culture, and leadership are represented, valued, and celebrated. It’s our obligation to inspire new conversations, new points of view and shift perceptions that help to guarantee that basic human right for all people . . . The freedom to roam in nature. We exist because people of color deserve a voice, they deserve an advocate and deserve action to ensure the Freedom to Roam is Unhindered, Unlimited, and Unforgettable.

Our initiatives start with Heritage Events. A Heritage Event is an outdoor experience capturing history, storytelling, culture, and people from the past who broke barriers for others. Heritage Events are outdoor experiences centered around calendar holidays allowing Love is King to highlight the celebration of different people's cultures. This results in a rich experience and a deeper community and allows Love is King to create a bias-free environment for BIPOC and everyone to feel safe, comfortable, and welcomed in the outdoors. Heritage Events are an easy entry for BIPOC and everyone to be part of. The ultimate goal is extending welcome access and safety in the outdoors from the love of the community and to provide the individual or family the freedom to roam further without fear in the outdoors. Every holiday that celebrates cultures and allows us to bring storytelling and heighten the experience in nature for BIPOC, also allows us to deepen the community and create a safe bias-free space working with government and conservation partners who all play a role in this unique space collectively to support BIPOC access and safety in the outdoors.

Partnering with Forest Park Conservancy has allowed us to work strategically to host our Heritage Events in Forest Park, an outdoor space that has been historically lacking diversity. We have been successful putting on a number of Heritage Events in the past few months, representing many diverse groups.

We also successfully achieved our second initiative, Love is King Operation ROAM (Rapid Ongoing Advance Missions), also working with Forest Park Conservancy. We built and fostered BIPOC leadership and elevated their voice and growth in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge! This effort led to access, safety, advocacy, in addition to fostering leadership for members of BIPOC communities. Love is King believes that we need to increase culturally relevant opportunities for communities to engage in conservation, such as co-creating Heritage Events with Forest Park. We need to celebrate the richness of diverse cultures, traditions, histories, and we need to acknowledge the important contributions of different cultures and communities.

Our third initiative is S.O.S. (STALWARTS OF SAFETY). Our role and responsibility, along with our strategic partners, is to provide proactive support for Senate Bill 289. SB 289 is a bold step forward to ensure equitable access and safe refuge in Oregon’s wild spaces for all BIPOC and marginalized communities. Our responsibility is to ensure that SB289 becomes actionable and that the BIPOC community is educated on the impact and intricacies of the law. Our mission is to have a NATIONWIDE adoption of SB289. We also support efforts in prevention of racism, intimidation, and discrimination outdoors by embracing education, enlightenment, and love.

S.O.S. (STALWARTS OF SAFETY) truly believe that LOVE is king and queen. Our S.O.S. (STALWARTS OF SAFETY) Ambassadors will lead with LOVE, patience and empathy. We will lead by the example that Martin Luther King Jr. lived and died by . . Living and Leading with Love. Our S.O.S. (STALWARTS OF SAFETY) Ambassadors will be committed to creating a reimagined outdoor environment and experience for BIPOC participation. Our Ambassadors will be “present” and become a visual and living symbol that elevates safety, community and confidence. We understand that changing behavior will take time, but we believe that being present, mindful, and engaged will ignite a change in biases, perception, and behavior. We believe in the power of love!

What do you have planned for 2022?

We are doing Heritage Events throughout the year. The first Heritage Event in 2022 is on February 26th - a Black History Heritage Event. This event will recreate the march on the Selma Bridge by marching into Forest Park along a Black History hike/walk trail.

Our next big event is Operation ROAM which will take place from June to August, 2022. Check out our website for more information on that!

How can the outdoors community support your work?

The most important way to support Love is King is by supporting the S.O.S. (STALWARTS OF SAFETY) and helping this become a movement! We are collecting signatures now to help show there is a need for support in the outdoors community when it comes to ignorance, racism, and bigotry towards BIPOC and LGTBQ+ communities. Supporting the S.O.S. (STALWARTS OF SAFETY) is a great way to support Love is King! The more signatures we obtain, the better we are able to get city officials on board to support safety in Oregon's outdoors. Our ultimate goal is to have success in Oregon with our various partners, and to use this success as a model that can be applied across the United States. More here.

How will the funds from this fundraising event be utilized?

The funds raised by CNOC Outdoors will be used to support our monthly Heritage Events and 10% of the donated funds will support operations.

Join us in supporting Love Is King and their mission to squash fear in the outdoors and to provide equitable access and resolute safety for all. Grab any of our trekking poles during February and we will send 10% of that to Love Is King.

To learn more about Love is King, please visit their website and be sure to follow them on Instagram and Facebook

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