Always Be Birdin’ podcast — We have “literal roots into the earth”

“It doesn’t matter how you enjoy your outside. If it’s birding, if it’s fishing, if it’s hunting, if it’s swimming, it’s still the same because we’re still out here trying to connect with nature, connect with the land, connect with the water, and connect with each other.”

-Sam DeJarnett, Always Be Birdin’

Small grassroots programs and organizations—including groups founded and run by one person—are doing necessary and groundbreaking work to create safe, welcoming, and educational spaces in nature by and for Black, Indigenous and People of Color. Justice Outside is proud to support the release of Always Be Birdin’ podcast episode 25, “Liberated Paths for Liberating BIPOC.” (Full Transcript)

To frame this episode’s conversation, podcast founder and host Sam DeJarnett asks, “What does it mean to have big dreams for our communities and not have to give them up because of barriers to funding?” The episode asks of us: what dreams, programs, expansions, and access become possible when funders remove barriers, prioritize simplicity, and grant generously to the small programs that are closely tailored to the needs of our communities?

In this podcast, host Sam DeJarnett speaks with:

  • Chandrika Francis, Founder and Facilitator of Oshun Swim School based in Seattle, WA,
  • Lydia Parker, Co-Founder and Executive Director of Hunters of Color based in Portland, OR
  • Alex Troutman, Hunters of Color Mentee and Wildlife Biologist based in Austell, GA

(Always Be Birdin’, Oshun Swim School and Hunters of Color are all Justice Outside Liberated Paths grantee partners.)

Justice Outside is so honored to be able to share Sam, Chandrika, Lydia, and Alex’s vision. A vision in which, as Sam notes, “We all do different work, but we are connected by our missions to create safe, healing and educational spaces for Black, Indigenous and People of Color outside (and we’re also connected by our Liberated Paths grants) that enable us to aggressively pursue our dreams for a different future.” Lydia is quick to add that this vision inspires her work : “…Just that connection to nature, to be able to be in water and be in nature. And that’s really a beautiful thing to me.”

Over the course of the podcast this vision for our communities continues to be centered as Sam reminds us “At the end of the day, nature is healing for everybody, especially people of color, because that is our ancestry! Every one of us has these deep roots, literal roots into the Earth.” Chandrika highlights the history and connection People of Color have with nature: “I always say that to my swim students, too. You’re already in a relationship with water your entire life. All of our ancestors are literally fish. For nine months, we were fish, and we are at least half water at any point in our lives.” Lydia further grounds the vision in ancestry and connection, reminding us that, “People need to see people of color hunting and to see these traditions for what they are, which is a connection to the land. We say we have a relationship with the land and an agreement with the land. And that includes, as we say for Haudenosaunee people, our Mother, the Earth. That’s a relationship that we have that will take care of her and she takes care of us.

Justice Outside created the Liberated Paths grantmaking program, after listening to leaders of color from across the country just like these founders, entrepreneurs, and a mentee who speaks in depth about the impossibilities of traditional funding processes. Alex notes: “I’d say my first year as a grad student, I probably applied to 20 or 30 grants and did not get one grant.” Chandrika adds: “I actually had stopped applying to grants. It started to feel insulting. It’s really anxiety producing, applying for grants. Chandrika woke up one day and realized, “This is bad for my mental health. I actually can’t do this.” Sam sums it up: “The system is broke. It only works for a few of us, few of y’all, and so we need to be creating new systems over here that works for all of us. …Collectively. So we all can rise.”

We are eternally grateful to Sam who asks us, the audience, to consider how liberated funding “could help us to lead our communities into collective liberation outside.” As Sam describes it, “The liberated path leads to the reclamation of power for BIPOC people in the outside. And that having that access to funding allows organizations and individuals like this group here to do the work that provides that (outdoors) access that you’re talking about.” Sam continues, “And that’s the liberation aspect of this. And so I’m so happy that organizations like Oshun Swim School and Hunters of Color are able to receive this type of funding, to be able to continue in that work, deepen that work, bring that work into the community.”

Episode and Show Notes | Full Transcript

Connect with the podcast, our grantee partners, and Justice Outside:

Always Be Birdin website | Donate | Instagram | Twitter
Oshun Swim School website | Donate | Instagram
Hunters of Color website | Donate | Instagram
Alex Troutman website | Paypal | Instagram
Justice Outside Instagram | Facebook | Twitter | Donate

Learn about the Liberated Paths Grantmaking Program