20 women writing about the outdoors

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1. Carolyn Finney

Carolyn Finney says that she “likes to trouble our theoretical and methodological edges that shape knowledge production and determine whose knowledge counts.” That’s definitely important when you consider that Finney has devoted a significant part of her career to studying diversity in the National Parks.

Like many of the other women on this list, Finney’s connection to nature started early in life. During her childhood, Finney’s father acted as the caretaker of a 12-acre estate near New York City. Both of her parents cared for the land for five decades. After that, they had to leave with a damaged sense of the relationships between the land, its custodians, and the people who claim to own it.

Diversity in the National Parks

As you may guess, that diversity has historically speaking, been almost non-existent. For instance, though black people constitute about 13 percent of the United States population, less than 10 percent visit U.S. National Parks in any given year. Why is that the case? What are the cultural drives that keep African Americans and other people of color from engaging with nature?

Questions like these led to Finney’s first book, Black Faces, White Spaces: Reimagining the Relationship of African Americans to the Great Outdoors (2014). In Finney’s telling of it, the issue does not simply lie within the realm of environmental justice.

The issue also stems from deeply entrenched issues of history, racism, and cultural prejudice. Troubling legacies of slavery and racial violence have contributed to this divide. It all influences how different groups of people think of and have access to “the great outdoors.”

Finney also looks to the future in Black Faces, White Spaces, where she outlines the work done by African Americans seeking to connect their communities to environmentalism and conservation efforts.

Hopefully, these women will open your eyes to a different side of the world with their works.