In theory, public lands and the outdoors are supposed to be a great equalizer—a refuge for solitude, peace and recreation that is open to all people. But in practice, access to nature is unequally distributed along lines of race, class, and income. A report by the Center for American Progress found that people of color are much more likely than white people to live in an area that is “nature-deprived.” And that “nature gap” is amplified when you consider all the barriers to entry for enjoying the outdoors: gear and transportation can be prohibitively expensive, it can be difficult to safely learn to do activities like skiing or backpacking, and the culture of many of these spaces can be exclusive and unwelcoming to beginners—especially when they’re visibly white-dominated.
Menesha Mannaperuma is a Denver-based climber who is working to change that reality. As a founder of Cruxing in Color, she organizes support for other people of color to learn to climb in a welcoming, supportive space. Menesha shares more about how her passion for climbing fed her motivation to fight climate change, and why she gives to Conservation Colorado to protect the places she loves.
Conservation Colorado is committed to closing the nature gap and fighting for a future where every Coloradan has the opportunity to enjoy our beautiful outdoors, regardless of race or income. We are excited to see our work on the Colorado Outdoor Equity Grant come to fruition. This first-of-its-kind program will support organizations that improve access to environmental education and outdoor recreation for Colorado’s underserved youth. Thanks to a bill passed last year, $3 million annually will be directed to help low-income, LGBTQ+, and racially and ethnically diverse youth get outside.