In 2020 Sergio Cira launched the Latino Outdoors GR Facebook group, inspired by the national Latino Outdoors
organization, which seeks to have the Latinx community represented in the outdoor narrative. Cira was encouraged by Alice Lyn who produced Color Out Here
, a video about people of color reclaiming the outdoors.
“Latino Outdoors was meant to create a space for people of color to share this new experience and create safety, a safe space and access,” says Cira.
“When you think of hiking, most people think of white males right, not really Latinos,” says Lorena Aguayo-Márquez, a member of Latino Outdoors who organizes many of the outings. “Personally, I was very involved because I want to see more Latinos out there.”
comparing the 2010 census with National Park Service’s Visitor Services Project, showed that 95% of national park visitors between 2001 and 2011 were white, while 72% of the U.S. population was white. Hispanics made up 16% of the population and only 7% of parks visitors identified as Hispanic. While the Black community accounted for 13% of the population, only 1% visited a national park.
There are many barriers that keep people of color from experiencing the outdoors, from the costs of equipment and transportation, to cultural history.
“With immigrant Latinos or refugees, I asked a couple of my friends, ‘You want to go backpacking or camping?’ and they were like ‘no, we did that in the migrant camp. I don't want to do that if I don't if I don't have to,’” says Aguayo-Márquez.
Generational knowledge about recreational activities is another barrier that Cira says keeps people of color from the outdoors.
In just over a year, the Latino Outdoors GR Facebook group has grown to over 500 members. While Cira and Aguayo-Márquez still organize and post about outings in the group, many members are now organizing events organically, now that they have a platform to connect.
“I love it when I see people try different things for the first time,” says Aguayo-Márquez. Both she and Cira agree that the one of the most rewarding pieces of Latino Outdoors is being able to introduce people to new outdoor activities and watching them take part for the first time.
“People of color have always been in nature and we’re just reclaiming where we belong,” says Aguayo-Márquez. “One of the things we’re trying to do is reclaim our space.”