Phillips County News - One Nation, Under God

By Parker Heinlein
Outdoors columnist 

Wearing out its welcome


March 13, 2019

I was surprised to read Frances Kim’s guest editorial in which she wrote about feeling excluded from the Bozeman outdoor community.

Kim wrote that, “the outdoors are inherently exclusionary.”

I beg to differ.

Because much of Montana’s outdoor recreation is free for the taking, it’s very inclusionary.

You don’t have to be any particular color in order to take a hike, cast a fly, or ride a bike. There is simply little diversity in our population. We’re pretty much white folk and American Indians.

Frances, however, appears to be more concerned about the lack of people of color involved in local conservation and outdoor recreation organizations.

She is one of the organizers of Earthtone Outside MT, a group led by people of color hoping to elevate the visibility of people of color in the outdoors.

That sounds exclusionary and unnecessary to me.

I find it hard to believe that the American Prairie Reserve or the Greater Yellowstone Coalition – just to name a couple -- wouldn’t welcome new members and volunteers of any color.

I’ll admit there has always been a bit of discrimination on the ski hill, but that has everything to do with clothing and gear, and nothing to do with race.

Instead of creating an exclusionary club for people of color, why not bring a little diversity to the many organizations already here. They’d be glad to have you.

Don’t tell me that in touchy, feely, New West Bozeman a smart, young, Korean woman with a love for the outdoors isn’t welcome. I’m sorry someone told you to go back to Japan, but like Don Henley sings, “Get over it.”

I’m not from here either and I’ve certainly been told on more than one occasion to go back to wherever it is I came from. People aren’t always nice.

Volunteer for Eagle Mount, however, and you’ll meet the nicest folks in the world. They would love to have you.

You don’t know me, Frances. You may have seen my column mug in the paper and written me off as just one more old white dude who can’t feel your pain. And while that may be partly true, I have brown grandchildren growing up in Montana who I love dearly. I’d hate for them to ever feel excluded from the outdoors. If I have anything to say about it they never will.

Quit complaining about feeling left out and offer to help out. You’d blend in easier than you think.

Parker Heinlein is at [email protected]


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