Always Be Birdin’ Podcast Transcript — “Liberated Paths for Liberating BIPOC”

by Sam DeJarnett, Episode 25

[Samantha “Sam” DeJarnett] Alright. Welcome back to “Always Be Birdin’.” Glad to see y’all. Hear y’all. I can’t wait for this episode. So this one is going to be a little bit different. I have a couple of people who are new friends, and maybe an old friend who I’m finally meeting. [laughs] I am excited to have them on. We are all recipients of a grant together, which we’ll get in later. And we’re all based in the PNW. And I’m excited to have this conversation about how we got the grant and how it’s going to help our organizations. But we’ll get into that later. Let me introduce who I have here with me. Today, I’m very excited to introduce Chandrika Francis, who is the Founder and Facilitator with Oshun Swim School; Lydia Parker, who is Executive Director and Co-Founder of Hunters of Color; and then I’m sure all y’all know it when I say it, Mr. Alex Troutman, who I’m very excited to have here, who is also with Hunters of Color as well as wildlife biologist. And I’m excited to get into this. I would love for y’all to introduce yourselves a little bit more, tell us about your organizations, and then we’ll get into a whole bunch of fun stuff.

[Chandrika Francis] All right. Wonderful! I’ll jump in. This is Chandrika with Oshun Swim School. Excited to be here with you. This is my first podcast experience. And yeah, just to tell you a little bit about myself and my work. Yeah, I’m from Oakland, California, and been in the Seattle area for about seven to eight years. Actually, my intro to any kind of Earthy “out here with the nature” world was more around backpacking and camping and that type of land-based work. I have been doing Oshun Swim School work for three or four years now. And it has just been such a beautiful gift for me, really, and hopefully for other folks as well. So I work with mostly Black women and non-binary folks, and also other folks of color, but really focusing on people who have experienced identity-based exclusion from feeling safe or being safe in swim environments. There’s a long history, specifically with Black folks and a lot of violence around water. Analog history of women and non-binary folks being made to feel very unsafe in aquatic environments. So that’s really– A big part of this is healing around that. And I work mostly with beginner students who have negative experiences or fear of water. And the center of it really is relationship. Like, what is your relationship with the water and how do we actually move? I think we’ve all heard of moving at the speed of trust and moving just like at the speed of your body. A lot of times we get in our head and we’re like, “Well, cool. I know what I need to do. I’m just going to do it.” But how do we actually check in with our body and make sure that we are not overriding ourselves? And so a lot of it is really slow, which always surprises folks. So I work with beginner swimmers. We do an intro to swimming workshop where we work through a lot of the foundational skills and work on the relational, like what’s happening relationally with you and water, and you and yourself. And there’s just so much that can happen in water in terms of healing and leaning into trust and leaning into safety that is transformational in so many other realms. So swimming– Learning to swim is the bonus. It’s like, “Oh cool, I’m gaining all those skills.” So I do that mostly in Seattle. I’ve also been in New York. And it’s just slowly growing and building. And I also do some different workshops that aren’t specifically swimming, like we used to have a spa one. Hopefully that’ll be back with COVID things. But yeah, just different opportunities to build our relationship with water.

[Sam] Thank you so much. I’m so excited to finally chat with you and meet you because I was telling you beforehand, I literally thought you were based in Portland, Oregon, because I had heard so much about Oshun Swim School and mostly through word of mouth and Wild Diversity. For those listening who are local to Pacific Northwest, I definitely highly recommend attending a lesson. I want to one day as well. I’m like every time I see you pop up somewhere, I’m like, “I want to go do that!,” and then I never can for whatever reason. But one day I’m going to come through. And so thank you so much for being here. I’m very excited.

[Chandrika] Thank you.

[Sam] Yeah. All right, Lydia, go for it.

[Lydia Parker] [speaking Indigenous language] Hi! My name is Lydia. I’m from the Walker Mohawk Band of the Kanienʼkehá꞉ka, or Mohawk Tribe. I’m the Executive Director of Hunters of Color and one of the Co-Founders. And I’m really excited to be here and happy to be on this podcast. Thank you, Sam, for thinking of us. And thanks to Justice Outside for bringing us all together. This is really cool to be in this group with these amazing people. And Chandrika, your work is so cool. I’m so excited. I’ve already sent your website to a couple of different people because I was like, “This is really cool!,” and I hadn’t heard of it. And so thanks for what you do. I’m a pisces, and so I love water. And even thinking about water births and things like that and the healing that you– 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. So I think that’s really cool work that you do. And I’m excited because we have one of our mentees here, Alex Troutman, who I’ll introduce, or I’ll have him introduce himself in a second. But I’m the Executive Director, like I said, of Hunters of Color. And I guess I should talk about our organization a little bit. We are a 501(c)(3) nonprofit working to decolonize hunting and conservation and indigenize conservation. And it’s super important to me as an Indigenous woman to be able to bring these life skills back to people of color who have largely– You know, these skills have largely been taken away from people of color. According to current statistics, 97% of hunters identify as white. And it doesn’t surprise a lot of people when I say that, but it’s really awful to hear that number because… For a lot of reasons. I mean, anytime you see numbers like that, you know that it didn’t happen on accident. That there’s a long history of purposeful exclusion and barriers to entry for people of color that didn’t crop up out of nowhere, that exists in redlining. How 98% of all privately owned land in the US is owned by white Americans. 86% of the wealth in the United States is owned by white Americans. And all of these lead to barriers for people of color to enter hunting, which, to those who are listening, who are like, “Oh, my gosh! What?! Hunting?!” Exactly! If you have that reaction, that trigger reaction to hearing about hunting, that’s exactly why we need to exist as hunters of color. 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 our Mother, the Earth, 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. And one of the ways that we have that connection is through hunting. Being a part of the ecology, being a part of the ecosystems, and not being above or dominating nature, as colonized hunting often feels like, but just being in nature and one with nature. And on top of that, hunting contributes $1.6 billion a year to conservation through taxes. And as less and less people hunt, because currently also 45% of hunters are over the age of 60, and those people are starting to retire from hunting. And less and less people are hunting. And as our country becomes more and more diverse and 97% of hunters are white, that number is just going to decline even steeper. And so we realize that there’s problems, these barriers to entry that need to be broken down. And that’s what we do. We have a mentorship program where we bring people in like Alex, who are interested in hunting. And Alex is really cool because he already had a relationship with the land. It wasn’t like we’re trying to build that from scratch. And that’s what I want to encourage people of color listening. You do have relationship with the land, and it’s largely– If you don’t feel that it’s because it’s been taken, it’s something that you can reclaim. And that’s something that we really want to instill in our mentees and in people. So we bring people into our membership program. We do policy work around Indigenous-led conservation. And Alex is here and can talk a little bit about our membership program. As a mentee, he was able to come out to a hunt that we did in Arkansas, and I’d love for him to be able to introduce himself and talk about that a little bit. And I’m just so excited that you’re here, Alex.

[Alex Troutman] Thank you. Yeah, so I’m Alex Troutman. I’m a mentee of Hunters of Color, and I’m a wildlife biologist. My background is: I grew up with nature. My family used to go fishing, so I was always in nature. I was one of the lucky ones. I moved from the city at an early age, and my family actually own our land where I live at. So I was experienced with nature. I got to see birds and deer running through my yard as a kid, whereas many people in the city don’t have that luxury of being able to experience nature of that kind. So for me, as a wildlife biologist, and a Black person that enjoys nature, that’s what I try to do. I try to be that representation of, one, what a Black scientist and wildlife biologist looks like. For me growing up, I didn’t have that representation. I was interested in wildlife, but the representation of someone working with animals was either a vet or a farmer, that there wasn’t anybody that was a wildlife biologist. And I would visit zoos and national parks, and even those were– Literally, like there was no Black people I’m working there. I didn’t see my first Black zookeeper until I was a zookeeper at the age of 25. And I didn’t see my first person working within the National Park System until I started working around age 26 or so. For me, my path is trying to encourage people to get into the outdoors, to explore nature. And one of those ways that I enjoy nature is through hunting. I learned to hunt in college through a friend. I started deer hunting around that time. Growing up, I’d seen people hunt, but there was never anyone who would take me out to go hunting, but through a friend in college, I finally eventually got to experience hunting, and I loved it. Then flash forward to this year, I got connected with Hunters of Color. I went out to an all BIPOC individual goose hunt down in Brinkley, Arkansas, on a Black-owned hunting lodge. So that was very special. As a mentee, I was there. I was lent a hunting gun, a shotgun, and we went through and talked about not only the aspect of hunting, but also sustainable hunting and harvesting and using all of the animal that you harvested respectfully and not just taking it just for the meat or the size of it, but actually using as much of the animal as possible and thanking and acknowledging the animals for the sacrifice to us as we ate it. So that was a very opening experience, because not only was it the first time I ever hunted for geese, but it was the first time I’d ever been a part of all people of color hunting outing. So it was a wonderful experience, and it opened so many avenues for fellowship where we all got to talk about our experiences of being one, or if not very few, people of color hunting in a mostly white area as our experience. So we got to break down that. And I didn’t just talk about the hunting aspect of it, but just the lived experience in general as people of color in a society that is not really for us every time. So I’m just thankful for the opportunity to be a part of the mentee program and looking forward to one day eventually having my own mentee as a hunter.

[Sam] Yay! Thank you! I’m so excited. Thank you so much, Lydia, for agreeing to be on here. Another organization in the opposite way that I had known about — didn’t know was in Portland, which blew my whole mind because I was like, I would love to also learn how to hunt. And so check your inbox after this. I’m like, “Let me be a mentee!” And Alex, as always, I’ve been like, “How can I get Alex Troutman on my podcast?” And I did not know that it would be through this. It was very exciting for me to know that you’re involved in this. I love it. I think it’s great. And I’m glad that you’re here to help contribute to this conversation. You are very well-rounded in knowledge in all of this, and I’m excited to have your voice. So, you know, this podcast is called “Always Be Birdin’,” because you can always be birdin’, but not all of us always be birdin’ in this room right now. But that’s okay because, again, we’re here together because we as organizations and individuals have been granted some funding from a wonderful organization called Justice Outside, who basically is like, I didn’t know about them until somebody sent me this link to apply for this grant, and when I did my homework and my research, I was just like, “Wow!” They’re really doing some great work for Black, Brown, Indigenous people of color in the environmental movement, specifically. So they’re very much environmental based. And their whole goal is to really change the narrative around access to outside and what that looks like. And so one of their programs that they do is called Liberated Paths Grantmaking. And this whole grant is really aimed at doing funding for smaller organizations, even larger ones or individuals, projects, whatever, that historically has been an extremely difficult process, a biased process in grantmaking in general. Right? It’s really weighted in one way, we’ll say. I think the same about, like money just swirls at the top with the same organizations, essentially, is what I’ve learned. And so Justice Outside, through the Liberated Paths Grantmaking program aims to really do things– basically do everything different, so that access to funding can be had by more people, essentially. So that’s what brings us here. We’re going to talk about that. And also I want to emphasize, too, that all of our organizations are different, right? But we all have this common thread that I love, which is community outside for BIPOC folk. [laughs] 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. And that’s why this grant is so important, because it has — I can speak for myself — allowed me to be able to deepen that work drastically. And so I would love for us as a group to chime in about your experience with Justice Outside and then the grant. Like, how was your application process? How did you find out about it? Anything else that you really want to say? This is a big shout out to them.

[Lydia] I’m super excited to even be able to talk about Justice Outside and to be a recipient and so grateful to be a recipient of this grantmaking program in particular, because grant writing is so hard. It’s so hard! And it’s prohibitive, I think, in a lot of ways, to people who have really good ideas and have compassion and passion for their communities. And then trying to start an organization like we did with Hunters of Color, funding was one of the hardest things ever to even navigate, to know where to start, how to write grants. And then I think one of the worst things that we came in contact with a lot, and that I’m sure everyone who’s ever written a grant knows what I’m talking about, is trying to fit the standards of the grant — the person, the foundation, whoever it is that has the money — trying to fit their standards in order to even get the grant. Like, trying to be good enough for somebody or to fit, check the boxes that they’re looking for, and how, often, because something like 87% or 97%, something like that, a really high percentage of foundations are white led and white run, and the board of trustees are white. So there are standards that don’t necessarily fit the ideals that we might have as people of color in outdoor spaces, and especially when you enter outdoor spaces. Like I said, 97% of hunters are white, and that’s the hunting foundation funding as well. The people who run any kind of money that has to go into hunting, the same demographics there. And so I shed many tears. It was hard! It was so difficult to even consider that someone might think that what we were doing, what we do, at Hunters of Color was worth it to them to fund. And then all of a sudden I found Justice Outside, and I found them just amidst a slew of horrible grant applications and horrible experiences where I was like, “Is this even worth it?” And then all of a sudden I found them and I actually attended– They had intro meetings beforehand where they answered questions and talked about the importance of basically decolonizing philanthropy and breaking down barriers to entry, kind of like what we’re doing in the outdoors. And I loved the name “Liberated Paths” because it feels like twofold, right? Liberated paths, like in the outdoors, like a picture, like a beautiful forest or hiking trail, and being free on that path to access and have joy in the outdoors and then a liberated path to funding. It’s kind of like a twofold thing because it’s the only time — and I use them as an example, and I will point other foundations to Justice Outside and say, “Hey, these people did it the right way.” They gave multiple levels of accessibility. You could call and have a conversation with them to apply. I think you could film yourself or record yourself to apply. You could do the traditional written application. But, super accessible for you to know your strengths and be able to apply however you feel most comfortable applying. And I thought that was so important. And then even the application itself was like– I did the written application and it was so much easier!

[Sam] [laughing] It was so easy!

[Lydia] It was so much easier. It was like a Google form, and beautifully succinct. And so anyway, I was just mind blown at how philanthropy can be better. And I still, when people– after I apply to grants, I’m like, “Oh! Wow! That took me eight days to do this grant application?!” I will send them Justice Outside and be like, “Hey, thanks for this opportunity to apply. Maybe consider being more like Justice Outside.” Anyways, I’m grateful to not have to fit the white philanthropy standards to be able to access this funding. I’m grateful that Justice Outside believed in our mission to bring Alex hunting with us. To support Black-owned businesses like Black Duck Revival, the only Black-owned duck lodge in America.

[Sam] Really? Is that the one that you went to?

[Lydia] Yeah. You guys got to go check it out.

[Chandrika] Where is it located?

[Lydia] It’s in Brinkley, Arkansas. And I’d never been to Arkansas before, ever. But we wouldn’t have been able to do that program and to support Jonathan’s business and to bring Alex out if it wasn’t for this funding. So, I mean, I’m so grateful for Justice Outside and you guys got to check out Black Duck Revival if you get the chance. If you’re ever in Arkansas.

[Sam] Absolutely. And one thing I will chime in — this is a huge aside — but like, I would have never known about that and I would never have even sought to go to Arkansas for any reason because it’s one of those places that I feel scared of. You know what I mean? And so especially if I was like, “I’m going to go hunt,” you know what I mean? That sounds scary to me. And so now I’m like, this is what I’m talking about. Like, it doesn’t matter what our individual goals are. What I just will always love is the collective liberation of BIPOC people outside, and that makes it so it feels so much more accessible when I learn about places like that, you know what I mean? Anyway, that’s a huge aside. Chandrika, I would love to hear about your experience with the application. I keep talking about the application just because I felt like it was so easy. And I was just like, “Oh, wow!” And I was like, I was like, “I’m going to do a podcast episode,” basically. And so that’s how I did it. And then when I filled out the literal Google form, I was like, “I’m not going to get none of this money. It seems too easy.” You know what I mean? Like, “It’s too easy!” But anyway, I would love to hear your experience with that.

[Chandrika] Yeah, sure. I definitely resonated a lot with what Lydia was saying and also what you’re saying. Yeah, I mean, my experience with grants, I actually had stopped applying to grants. I hope I’m not forgetting something, but I actually don’t think I’ve gotten a grant before this one. And yeah, I just stopped. It started to feel insulting. This work is beautiful, and it’s also very intimate. And we’re also talking about healing, incredibly violent– like, an incredible amount of violence.

[Sam] Absolutely.

[Chandrika] And just putting that out there. I’m like, “I don’t even know– Who are you?” And you can’t hold what I’m– This is intimate and you can’t even hold it or see it. So I just stopped, honestly. So they actually reached out to me. I don’t know how, honestly, but I think they must have done some research about smaller organizations. I thought that was sweet. I was like, “That’s different!”

[Sam] Yeah, wow!

[Chandrika] And yeah, I had kind of been like, “Well, you know what–?” I have a sliding scale for my programs, but I do charge. And I’m like, “Okay, this is just going to be a program.” I also am so grateful that I have Patreon. I call it Patreon. [laughs] I’m glad that I have Patreon support. So I’m like, all right. I really just kind of given up. This process definitely seemed very different. So, I don’t know. It’s really, for me, really anxiety producing, applying for grants. I remember when COVID hit, I’m like, “Okay, well, I can’t do programming. Let me get into grant applications.” And I’m like, “This is bad for my mental health. I actually can’t do this.” So yeah, their process was so different. I definitely appreciated some meetings beforehand that were just more relational. Yeah. It was like, very straight– Very useful. Short. And I think that it feels so respectful that they’re not categoriz— Micromanaging. Like, “Where are the receipts? Give us the detail, and we’re going to check up on it. We need to make sure you’re not lying.” It’s like, “Okay, you actually trust the work that we’re doing and trust that we know how to handle that best, because that’s what we’ve been doing.” So that in itself goes so different. I don’t feel like I’m being paternalistic. It does not feel paternalistic. I would rather– Like, I feel like the energy of what we’re doing is too sacred — like, all of us — too sacred and too intimate to be in some sort of weird controlling situation. So I just really appreciate that. It’s like, “Wow, okay, you trust me? And good, because I’ve got integrity.”

[Sam] [laughs] Right.

[Chandrika] Yeah, I think for me– Yeah, I’m still like– Oh god, there’s, like, so many things. So I feel like my plan for the funding is ever evolving, and I think one thing that’s allowed in the meantime, I do a lot of curriculum development work and a lot of behind the scenes work that is not– The money I have coming in now is mostly just tied to when I’m doing programming. So it’s allowed for me to have some funding for myself to live while I’m doing all this programming preparation. And curriculum development is so heady, and it needs time and space, but it’s not something– Even when I was a classroom teacher, you don’t get paid for that time. It’s considered prep that you just do. You’re creating. You’re birthing something. So that alone has been amazing, and I’m excited for it to be able to– Because I’ve been doing sliding scale, and so this will be able to support that to continue. My long term vision, I really want to have my partner and I are looking into getting land outside Seattle, hopefully this year.

[Sam] Yes!

[Chandrika] I’m like that’s the vision. And I want to have a pool on that land where people can come, and really soak in being in a natural setting and coming into this skill and this comfort in water, I think that some of this funding will be able to go towards that cost of creating a space, because I’m so grateful for some of the people I’ve met in Seattle and some other places. There’s a swim school called Water Babies that’s run by a family of color, and they have been so incredibly like, “Yes, we see you. We’re going to offer you a job and training and full time and discounts.” They’re just like [inaudible], like the godparents of it. But that’s rare. It’s rare. And as I go out and try to be in other spaces, people are like, “That’s great, but we’re not going to move our schedule around.” It’s really hard to get into pools, basically. And it’s intense to be navigating and trying to explain to people like, “Hey, this is what we’re doing.” And they’re like, “No, we already have a scholarship program.” I’m like, “That’s not–“

[Sam] Wow!

[Chandrika] No, you’re not doing what I’m doing. This grant makes me dream bigger about having our own space, that we don’t have to ask permission and do a little dance. And it can just– Like, what is possible when you’re not in a white controlled space, it changes! You don’t even know what’s possible. And hearing you all talk about being on that Black-run hunting spot, or Alex, with your family’s land, it’s just different. Like, what is possible expanse? Yeah, that’s like a big down-the-line vision that this funding makes me feel like, yeah, why not? Let’s have our own space.

[Sam] Absolutely. And I hope I will send you all the good juju that happens for you.

[Chandrika] Thank you.

[Sam] You can invite all of us out. Alex can take y’all birdin’, we could go swimming, and then we’ll go hunt.

[Chandrika] Yes!

[Alex] Let’s do it! [all laugh]

[Sam] I’m here for all of it. I love this so much. But you know what? You bring up a really interesting point. “Interesting” isn’t the right word. It’s sad to me to hear that you had stopped applying because– Ugh, it infuriates me when people of color, especially Black women and femmes, have to feel like they have to give up on something that they care deeply about because of access issues. I can’t stress enough how much that pisses me off. Like, I don’t like that shit. It’s so unfair, and I’m glad that this existed and that they reached out to you and you didn’t miss out on this opportunity. Now– It’s like a sense of validation, right? When it’s easy, you don’t have to feel like you have something to prove in a written– You know what I mean? Like, I have to prove myself to you to get some money. It’s like, who gets to decide who’s deserving and who’s not, and what is deserving even mean, really and truly? Right? And so… this grant is really breaking a lot of these things down. And I’m interested in Alex, do you apply for grants or have you done anything like that in terms of that type of work or…?

[Alex] Yeah. So my experience applying for grants actually came from as a graduate student.

[Sam] Oh, yeah.

[Alex] So I have applied to many grants. I didn’t get hardly any of them that I applied to. I’d say my first year as a grad student, I probably applied to 20 or 30 grants and did not get one grant. And then my second year was when things start turning around. I actually changed up from applying to grants that were long grants, needing over 1000 words, to grants that are like 500 words, 800 words or something like that. So I was able to apply to these grants and get them using a more concise approach instead of trying to explain my whole experience, but it was just highlighting the experience. Also, I reached out and looked for grants that were geared towards Black people in STEM, Black men, and underrepresented or underserved individuals. And I started reaching out for those grants and found that those were more available to me than the other grants that I was applying to. So that’s kind of my experience for grants. They’re a big woozy, I guess. If you don’t know what you’re doing, yours definitely can be lost. Like, the first grants I applied to, they were horrible! I didn’t have any type of grant writing experience. That’s something they don’t teach you in school. So you have to kind of figure out yourself. And that’s basically what I did. I did have some of my advisor’s help, but even with his help, my grant writing, scientific writing was horrible, just trying to explain my project. And then once I kind of figured that out, I started getting them. And then the grants that I got are catered to my passions. I got a fellowship grant from the Safina Center to do community outreach, things that I was already doing. So community engagement, community outreach, as well as help fund some of my master’s research project. So without that grant, I definitely would’ve had to choose between just doing my research or focusing on the community outreach that I was already doing. But thankfully, with the Safina fellowship, I was able to do both of them. So those grants really helped me out. Grants, they’re kind of tricky. You have to figure out the right niche you fit in, so to speak. There are grants out there that are available to people of color and grassroots organizations, but sadly, a lot of those don’t go to us because they go to larger corporations or orgs that pit the work that they do with minorities and people of color as more of the icing on the cake rather than the whole foundation of recipes. Like, “Oh, by the way, we are doing some work with Black and people of color communities.” So they’re awarded those grants because they have more resources where people can actually dive in looking for grants, researching grants, and spend more time actually writing and groom their applications to be successful for these grants, whereas grassroots organizations or individuals are like, “This is my first time. Maybe I only applied to two grants and I don’t really have that experience, so I can’t put all the effort in that you have the resources for.”

[Sam] I want to say that one more time so it’s louder for the folks in the back. A lot of this money goes towards white organizations — it swirls up at the top — who like to pitch a diversity sentence on their website. And then the people who have the money are like, “Oh, okay, that’s an easy box for us to tick.” Instead of actually funding and supporting BIPOC communities and people within the communities that are doing that grassroots work like you’re talking about, Alex. And so it’s infuriating! It’s infuriating. And I’m glad that you got money, Alex. I’m sorry that that took so damn long. I was like, “I’m not going to do the grad school thing.” So I can’t even imagine the process. And I know that it’s like very expensive. And I’m also glad that you found a grant that was able to allow you to do both of the things that you’re passionate about. Because why should we have to choose just for money’s sake, you know what I mean? And that’s really frustrating. And it’s limiting. Why anybody would want anyone to limit their creativity and their gifts is beyond me. We should all be able to do whatever we want as creatives. Right?

And so anyhoo, this is a good time for me to bring up the Amplify the Future — this is a plug, in case y’all didn’t know — Amplify the Future, a grassroots organization who does Birders Fund, and so they do the Black and Latinx birder scholarship. And then this year and this is open now until March 15, they added a BIPOC grad student mini grant. So I’m carrying that on on the backs of your conversation, Alex, because we do recognize that staying in school is hard for BIPOC people, let alone getting in there. It’s staying in school. Right? And so that grant is available. We’re still small. So it’s not a whole lot of money, but it’s something. So do apply! Everything closes on March 15.

And there are so many– It sounds like there are other organizations out here who are trying to bridge this gap and also essentially create new ways of doing this stuff because that’s kind of where we’re at at this point. 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. You know what I mean? Collectively. So we all can rise. Right? I am wanting to talk about the effects of the grants. Now, for those of y’all listening, it’s not no little bit amount of money either. This is not like $200 grant. You know what I mean? This is depending on what you apply, like what you ask for. We don’t need to talk about that here. But it’s not chump change. And so it’s actually like a lot of money that is also a multi-year grant. So it’s an amount of money for this year, and we get, I think, at least for me, the same amount of money for next year in 2023. And so that to me is also very different. I’m sure there are multi year grants out there. But like, damn, y’all don’t know! This is helpful. This is helpful! I would not ever, ever. I’m sitting up here working a whole-ass other job, and the podcast is not a source of income for me, a direct source of income for me. This is something that I do for fun. It’s gotten me opportunities that have created income, but it’s not not a direct source of income for me. And so now I’m able to, like Chandrika was saying, I can sit with myself and plan and figure out how to do what I want to do in an intentional way, too. Like, I have time to be intentional, and I’m not just sitting up here thinking about how can I get money. You know what I mean? So I gotta work for the man, you know? [laughs] It’s so like– I don’t like working for white people no more. And so, it’s so important, but I want to hear from everybody about, like, Chandrika, you started talking about these long term goals. I want to hear what Hunters of Color is thinking about with that, as this being your first grant. And then I really do want to also hear from Alex, because you are a part of Hunters of Color and able to be a part of Hunters of Color now in this capacity because of this grant. Right? Like, you’re already able to, but you’re going to obviously be able to continue to do that in hopefully larger aspects because of this grant. So let’s talk about hopes and dreams, you know what I mean? What we’re doing with this money?

[Lydia] I love that. And Chandrika I always go first, so go ahead. [laughs]

[Chandrika] It’s been an interesting journey for me because when I first started this program, I was thinking I would work with people for one or two sessions and go over that initial and then kind of be like, “Okay, bye neighbors!” And has just grown into so much more in-depth than that. So, yeah, it’s still very much emerging. And I’m getting excited that I feel like because I work with really small groups of people, I don’t have more than five students in my class. And those classes are most of what I do, just working with five people at a time. Yeah, I’m being pretty slow and pretty intentional about what’s happening. I’m not trying to just blow up expand really quickly. And I’m like, I want more people to have this experience. So it’s interesting thinking about how with funding– Because I want to start to be able to train other instructors, because right now it’s me. [laughs] There’s a lot of people who have the capacity to do this, and I’ve learned so much that I can pass on. So it’s exciting to think about how to scale at an intentional way that just really honors the slow work. Yeah, I mean, what I envision for future things is like being able to– Because I consider this like a bridge from feeling uncomfortable, unsafe in water to feeling really connected and like an amphibious creature and really safe and confident. But that then folks would continue on to more advanced swim lessons, potentially just in mainstream classes now that they have that foundational experience. So I would love in the future for there to be other– For me to be able to train up folks to be this bridge person and do this program in many different places. Because I did the program in Oakland once. I did it in New York a few times, but then the rest of the year I’m in Seattle. So I would love for there to be folks to be able to continue. And I think it can plug in really well. And the cool thing is it’s not in competition with other swim classes because it really is a bridge. So I would love to have this program expand in a way where there are instructors in different places who are this bridge, and then they funnel students into mainstream classes. Also providing some training for mainstream instructors, like how we might continue to decolonize our swim instruction. I would love to be able to really pay people well to train them. The certifications that are out there are like thousands of dollars! [laughs] I would love to be able to train people in a way that’s accessible and have this be something where there is just like Oshun Swim School pods that are just kind of independent but working in different places and having this safe entry into the water. Because once you have that foundational experience,– Because who can say, once again in a mainstream swim class, if it’s going to be problematic or not? But I think once you have that foundational experience– Same with going out in nature and Earth. Like, once you have that foundation, then you have a negative experience and you’re like, “That’s not it. That’s not it. That was you. That wasn’t the Earth, that wasn’t nature. That wasn’t the water. That was you.” And you can navigate that easier. So, yeah, I would love to do that expansion. I feel like this funding– I feel like this funding is going to allow me to have some more space to actually develop really thoughtfully what that training is going to look like, because it’s complex. I’m like, “How do I really give people the tools to be really successful in this?” So that’s exciting to think about because that’s like a whole another level beyond just like, “Whoa, what is this? Okay, now how do we pass it on?” Yeah, I mean, the pool, I can nerd out about having our own space. It’s just, like, beautiful. I’m just imagine just like a temple, you know? Just like urns falling into the pool, and there’s a hot tub, and there’s like, it’s just like you come and you can just actually rest and play and learn and a statue of Oshun and just like, a really nice pool. You know when you’re in a pool and it’s just, like, tiled and it’s like warm and just like an oasis. And for that to be people’s introduction or reintroduction to swimming and really just like, you just come and you feel adorned and like, “Hey, I’m a goddess!”

[Sam] Exactly!

[Chandrika] I’m a goddess, I’m a mermaid. Whatever it is. And yeah,– I’m going to quote Beyonce, who I think quoted someone else. I don’t think this is her. But, “If we’re going to heal, let it be beautiful,” or magnificent, something like that. Let’s have this be even more beautiful. Not just like, “Okay, now you can swim,” but, “Now you are in tune with the water and fully in that power.” Yeah, so all those things feel exciting and require some funding.

[Sam] I love the sound of that. You got me sold! You let me know when it’s up and running, okay?

[Chandrika] Yes. [all laugh]

[Lydia] I know. I was going to say, when can I book a day? That sounds great. Yeah. And I hope that we can. I’m sure, Sam, that you can do this, but put your Patreon and stuff in like a link somewhere.

[Sam] Absolutely.

[Lydia] So that we can all support you and get that pool!

[Sam] Absolutely.

[Lydia] Also, is it okay if I jump in really quick, Sam?

[Sam] Yeah, go for it!

[Lydia] I was getting really excited about what you were saying, Chandrika, about hiring, being able to pay people well to do this work as ambassadors, basically for the Oshun Swim School, and Alex and I and Jimmy, one of our co-founders, were just on a call last week a couple of days ago talking about our ambassador program and this funding allowing us to be able to come up with the same idea, to be like, “Okay, this is really important work and we can’t be–,” I mean, we actually have both Oshun and Hunters of Color have been in New York actually doing programming, too, but we can’t be everywhere all the time. And I joke and I’m like, “Can we just clone us everywhere?” But being able to actually hire people and pay them well, like living wages and beyond, so that the people of color who are doing this work are not doing it for free. That’s another huge thing that this grant was able to help. Actually, we actually were able to pay ourselves a little bit. And I shouldn’t even say a little bit, like to qualify it, people of color need to be paid for the work they’re doing in these spaces because it’s an abusive cycle to not be paid for this work.

[Sam] Absolutely.

[Lydia] Yeah. And so many people — I think Alex might have even posted this — but you know the old saying, “Do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life,” or something like that? I think it was Alex, somebody or somebody posted it was like, “Do what you love and you never work a day in your life,” and that last part is crossed out and it was like, “and you’ll abuse your mental health by pouring yourself into it for free for all this stuff.” [laughs] And it’s so true because we all care so much and because we’re so passionate about this and we know that it is healing work that needs to happen in the outdoors that we would and we have I know all of us have worked for too cheap or for free for a long time. I know I told Alex it was really hard, like two years of working so hard all the time for free. And it’s awful. And so many of us get in that cycle because philanthropy is so hard to access. It’s inaccessible for so many. And so what I love about this grant and what I love about the inspiration now that Chandrika has, and that we have, to be able to then create other communities. Right? Create communities that have ambassadors and have employees that you pay well and that we are able to be paid well because the work that we’re doing is so important, all of us. And it’s something that’s not fun to talk about, like finances and getting paid for things, but it’s so important. And you are so worth it. Chandrika and Sam and Alex and anybody listening, your work is worth being paid for. Do not do it for free. If you are doing it for free, reach out to Justice Outside and tell them you’re doing it for free, because they know that.

[Sam] Not today! No more! Here’s the money. [all laugh]

[Lydia] Oh, and the last thing I was going to say, just talking about our ambassador program, the reason this is so important for us, I mean, for so many reasons, just because it’s– Any time that people of color have not had access to something, we need to evaluate how that happened and break down those systems of oppression. For the LGBTQ communities, for people who are disabled, we need to be able to evaluate systems and break down what got us to these points. Right? And so that’s why Hunters of Color is important, but also for the future of conservation funding, like I mentioned, and because you don’t have to eat meat. None of us are walking around being like, “I’m going to tell you how to eat that kind of thing.” You don’t have to eat meat. And we have a lot of friends who are vegan. We have friends who are vegetarian who come out and go to our events just to do archery practice. Like there’s healing in just being in things like that, too. You don’t have to hunt and you don’t have to eat meat. But one of the things we want to encourage people to do, if you do choose to eat meat, hunting is the most sustainable way to do so. Just this — I think I was telling Alex, too — we went three months without buying any store-bought meat. Three months because my partner was able to– He went archery hunting and was able to get an elk this past year. That’s feeding our family. I mean it’s just incredible. Yeah.

[Sam] Wow!

[Lydia] And it’s amazing to be able to escape that oppressive system, too, of factory farms, capitalistic, high produce, high– putting animals in terrible conditions for us to eat. I love being able to get away from that. And that’s another reason I want to encourage people to get into this work, because for the sake of our planet, for the sake of animals to be treated well, to be able to eat animals that you harvest yourself, and that you can, like Alex said, be thankful for and give thanks to the animal for feeding your family. There’s that connection to our food that’s missing. So that’s one of my biggest reasons for wanting to be able to have ambassadors that we pay well, that we can expand our programming so that more people have access to sustainable meat.

[Alex] I’m a wildlife biologist, I’m a birder and I’m also a hunter. I definitely get some flak, I guess thrown at me because I’m a wildlife biologist and I hunt or I’m a birder and I hunt as well. So it’s like, “How can you say you love these animals and be passionate about these animals but you go out and kill or shoot them?” And for me it’s simple. It means that by hunting I am helping to control populations and then also I’m helping to help the environment, like reducing emissions. I’m buying something that’s coming from 50, 100 miles away. It’s literally in my area of the town. And then I’m also supporting the local economy by sending whatever animal I harvested to a processor if I don’t do it myself. But also I know that as a birder and an animal lover, there has to also be checks and balances. We can’t let populations run away if we’re still truly loving them. And for me, as a birder and biologist, I’m a birder. I contribute to the conservation hunting fund through buying passes to wildlife refuges, to national parks, that a lot of people think it’s either/or. Either you’re going to be a hunter or you got to enjoy birds, but you can do both. Like, I enjoy nature. Even while I was out hunting, I was listening to other birds flying over, but I was kind of like, “Oh, that was a woodpecker.” Or like, “You know what? There’s goose flying over, but there’s a juvenile eagle that just flew across the tree edge.” So it’s an experience in itself where you can be hunting, but you also can still be actively engaging and have a connection to nature while still being thankful that you’re able to harvest an animal. So there’s a lot of people that definitely I feel like are trying to pit birders and hunters against each other or saying that– I was at a conference and someone once said that birders and people who utilize the natural environment without hunting are freeloaders. So basically we don’t contribute to anything. We’re just freeloading off the dollars that hunters provide through like the ammo tax and gun tax and their duck [inaudible] and hunting. So many birders or wildlife photographers are also buying the same park passes, are stopping at the same stores that you are when you come here into the surrounding cities of national parks and wildlife refuges. And many birders like myself are also in fact hunters. So some people don’t want to hunt or don’t think it’s necessary, but you don’t know what avenue that experience can lead. Like, maybe someone doesn’t really know about hunting, but they go out and say, okay, they see what it’s about. And it’s like, “Hungin is not for me. I don’t want to shoot an animal, but I still have fun. I was able to enjoy the sights and surrounds around me. And while it’s not for me, I will support someone else in doing it if that’s what they’re passionate about.” We all can enjoy nature and be a supporter of nature together if we are able to work together. So it’s kind of like they have like that fire triangle where you need oxygen, a pool source. So it’s kind of like it’s kind of what the conservation of natural resources is. We all need a triangle. We need that triangle. So you got to have hunters, you got to have birds and wildlife photographers, and obviously you have to have wildlife, animals, and land. So without any of those three, if one of those are removed, it’s an imbalanced system. So we have to make sure that the system is always balanced. One, hunters are not greater than birders. Birders are not greater than hunters. We all are a — I guess — a cohesive system that has to work together in order for the good of the natural resources and the environment.

[Sam] Two things. You can be out hunting, and while you’re doing that, you can always be birdin’ is what I heard when you were talking about that.

[Alex] Exactly.

[Sam] You’re like, “I’m here and I’m birdin’. Okay, I hear this. I hear that.” You know what I mean? I’m here for it. I love that. And the other thing, too, is the triangle that you’re talking about. One of the pieces that I feel like is missing that, talking back to the grant allows, is this access. Because to bring Chandrika back in, it’s just like, what if somebody really wanted to try fly fishing but was petrified of the water, you know what I mean? And what resources are out there, what accessibility is out there for them to overcome that so that they can enjoy nature in this way that they maybe never thought would be truly healing? Because that’s what this is all about. 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. And so I think there’s a lot to cover. And I’m seriously like, let’s have a whole episode about hunting and birding, because I love it. And I think we should talk about it deeply and in depth. And I know, Lydia, you wanted to say one more thing about that and so go for it, because again, the listeners are birders, not everybody is a birder, but get into it.

[Lydia] I love it. Yeah. And I’m so glad that you even thought to ask that question. And I knew that Alex was going to bring up the conversation about the people calling them freeloaders.

[Sam] [laughs] That made me laugh!

[Lydia] I know! Alex told me that story, so I was like, “I hope he tells that story.” And then he did. It’s just wild. Wild! But, yeah, I did want to say the people that I know who hunt, including myself, we love animals. We adore animals. And the reason that we– Even like Alex said, like biology, like making sure that conservation, that we have animals around, not even just to hunt. It’s not for extractive or selfish or human-focused purposes, but because this is their home, too. And they’re our relatives. We believe that the animals are our relatives and we have connections to them. Anyway, I love animals. And I was going to say I got excited when I first got the email from you and Efrain, because I thought about when I was little, I didn’t have very many friends. A super nerdy kid. And I love nerdy kids because I totally was one.

[Sam] [laughs]

[Lydia] And I never made friends, so I always had books, and I had this little green, “Birds and Wildlife of the Pacific Northwest” book that I would walk around with, even if it was just like a little walk down the street. I would carry my book just in case I saw a bird and I could open it up really quick and be like, “Oh, that was this. That was a spotted woodpecker.” And so I’d walk around with my little book. And it’s probably also why I didn’t make friends, because I was like, always had my face in a book. Wasn’t talking to people. But birds, the outdoors, it’s healing, and it’s so healthy for all of us. And we all love animals. I adore animals. Even the other day, actually just yesterday, I got so excited because I thought that Alex had texted my partner a video of a bird because all of a sudden– I was sitting here working, and all of a sudden, I heard this bird chirping super loud. And I was like, “Oh, cool. Alex probably sent Jimmy a cool video of a bird.” And so I ran out to look at the computer where my partner is sitting. And he was like, “What?” And I was like, “What did Alex send you?” And he was like, “What do you mean?” And I was like, “I’m hearing this bird chirping really loud. And I was excited to see what this bird was.” And then we went outside and there was a mocking bird sitting on the chimney. It was like chirping into the chimney. [all laugh] But anyway, just like that excitement and that joy that we get from seeing birds and from being in nature. Which reminds me, because y’all are in the Pacific Northwest, except for Alex. We got to get Alex out here because he texted me and was like, “Do you guys have Stellar Jays up there?”

[Sam] Yes! We do!

[Alex] Yes, I need to. I must see one this year.

[Lydia] You have places to stay now. All of us.

[Sam] Yeah, absolutely.

[Lydia] Yeah. We’ll definitely have to get you out to see Stellar Jays. And while I’m talking about animals. I have to jump off here sooner rather than later because, like I mentioned, part of the work that we do and emphasis and impetus for why I wanted to start Hunters of Color is because I love animals. And so today I’m actually in California. We’re visiting the tule elk here in California who’s– the population has been decimated by colonization, by encroachment, by habitat loss and deforestation. And there’s a small group of Coastal Miwok people who are protecting these elk. They’re land protectors. They’re animal protectors. They’re water protectors, and they’re protecting these elk. And we’re working with them, Hunters of Color, to enforce the work that they’re doing and build up the Indigenous-led conservation that these people are working for their relatives, the elk who are their relatives, to protect them. So we’re going to go see them today because California needs a lot of work to start respecting these animals again and bring the elk populations back. So anyways, that’s what I’m doing today, and I love — I love — animals and just want to drive that home. Alex and I don’t hate animals because we hunt.

[Chandrika] Wow. Well, first of all, just loving this birding-hunters feud. I didn’t know about it. The thing that came to mind me around it it is just thinking about how we’re all living in this colonial experience right now. And I think that no matter who you are, really, including white folks, that there’s, like, a lot of trauma around the relationship between humans and land and animals. I’m hearing underneath this wild finger pointing experience, just like this sort of broken relationship that we’re in and a desire to be in a right relationship with the Earth and with animals. And I think this is where thankfully these Indigenous practices both here from Turtle Island, Afro-Indigenous practices, really everywhere that can really lead us into, like, how– Like, I don’t know. It’s just interesting, like, aversion to death and killing that is so much a part of nature. And it’s just interesting thinking about how we might actually be in right relationship with– That it is possible to be in integrity and to kill. I think that’s, like in the sort of, like, Western mind, kind of hard to deal with in some way. That’s because we’ve seen so much violent decimation of animals and people and land that it’s hard to– Like, not all of us have seen or lived like that being okay and actually part of relationship. So I think that this is like, yeah, within capitalism and colonialism, killing has been nothing but brutal. But what does it mean to be in this relationship where it’s like we’re actually part of the ecosystem and– You know, you’re not going to go to a cougar and be like, “You are evil for killing!” I’m just hearing this desire to be in good relationship, and I don’t know, I feel like the Indigenous practices are ones that we– It actually has worked!

[Sam] Big lesson!

[Chandrika] And it continues to work in these ways. And so I was thinking about that and then also just– Yeah, we were kind of touching on this before, but thinking about how all of this comes back to being connected and being in relationship with the Earth and water and each other and ourselves. And like, how I’m definitely like– I was saying before, I got kind of overwhelmed by birding because I couldn’t remember the names of anything. And there was so many that look similar.

[Sam] Mmhmm! Sparrows!

[Chandrika] But I am always like, “Yeah, I can get back into it,” because what I love about it is that it is so accessible. No matter where you are in the city, there’s always birds and they’re always just like, engaging or you can always engage with them in some way. And I feel like it’s interesting to thinking about hunting that like — I think Alex was talking about and Lydia — they were talking about being able to listen deeply and the whole process, even if you’re not actually shooting a gun or killing animal, of being in tune and being out there. That’s accessible to everyone. And even if you’re not going on a hunt, just those skills, I would imagine, of like, “All right, let me just be perceptive to what’s happening around me and notice things.” That’s something we can all do. And 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.” So I think that’s just something that I like to keep bringing forward. Like, no matter where you are on that journey, you’re already in that journey.

[Alex] Yeah, that was great. I’m a newly converted fish. As of a couple of years ago.

[Sam] You’re a converted fish??

[Alex] Yeah.

[Sam] Yay! Congratulations. [all laugh]

[Alex] I used to like being at the beach but not actually going in the water. But since I started working with turtles, I had to go in the water. So I enjoy the water now.

[Chandrika] Yay!

[Alex] I love it now. Sam, you mentioned access as a part of the nature equation earlier. And access is a big thing. And not only access, but also safe access is what we should consider because many times we have to gain access through different channels, but that access or the safe enjoyment of the access is actually taken away from us by other individuals through harassment or through calling police and other avenues. Intimidation, or I’m going to say jealousy, really, of it that BIPOC people, Black people and people of color, that we’re returning back to the land, back to our roots. So I think it’s kind of a jealousy and intimidation factor when people are upset that we are all being unapologetically ourselves, enjoying these spaces. And I guess what I kind of want to say is a lot of people want to ask, “Why aren’t we in these spaces?” Or, “Why are we tending to stay away from these spaces?” And it all goes back to the access that we don’t have or that we are trying to gain. Who wants to go outside and enjoy nature? If you hear from your buddy that they went to this park and throwing pretty much racial profile and like, “Oh, why are you out here?” Or like, they’re going hunting and something happens to them. So they go back and tell their friends, like, “No, don’t go here.” That’s how the access can be denied. From one bad experience a whole generation can be lost in nature because one individual wanted to revoke access to a person of color because they were entitled to that land or to that spot. It may even be a public space, but since they’ve been coming here, they think it’s theirs when it belongs to the public. So it belongs to all of us. And that includes BIPOC individuals. So we have to focus on why our numbers are dwindling as far as either conservation funds or why there’s not people of color in the outdoors. And we have to look at the root problem. And many times that is the intimidation factor, the revoking of access by, many times, white individuals. Many times those are white individual hunters. And sometimes it’s not anything that’s violent or mean. Well, actually, it’s kind of mean, [all laugh] sometimes it’s weird looks or– I was birding in Texas– birding in Texas and I went to a pier. I pulled up and started walking, and no one said anything. They just kind of looked. And then as I went up to the pier, to the observation booth, I was getting my camera out and slowly but surely I could see my peripheral and hear footsteps going down the steps. And then when I looked up, everyone that was up there was done from the observation deck. And I’m just like, its little incidents like that that make you question, like, “Why am I out here?” So that’s what I’m talking about when I’m talking about access. It has to be welcoming access, and not just like when you’re a little kid, “Mom told me to give you your toy back, so here!” It has to be like, “I want to share this with you. You have just as much of a right as I do to be here so, here, come enjoy it with me together.” Not like, “Okay, I’ll let you have this, but you only can use it in between these hours. You need to be out of here before dark [inaudible].”

[Sam] Because it’s sun down town or some shit, right?

[Alex] Exactly.

[Sam] Alex, thank you so much for that, because I think that actually perfectly sums up what I think we have been trying to get at this whole time with access and being outside in whatever capacity that is for you and why it’s so important for an organization like Justice Outside to exist and offer grants like the Liberated Path grant. Because, Lydia, I think it was you, you were talking about imagining what that liberated path looks like, and I think, Alex, you brought us there. 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 access that you’re talking about. Because we’re going to have to provide it for ourselves and our communities because right now — how do I say this nicely? — right now, the white spaces are not safe and they’re not doing that well for us right now. We shouldn’t really rely on that. 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 and different aspects through community engagement, better programming, more intentional programming, paying people good money — you know what I mean? — to also then take that programming out larger and larger. I will keep saying this all day, every day. I wholeheartedly believe in this mycelium network of BIPOC creatives and individuals who are out here in organizations who are out here connecting us. And I want to see that network grow and grow and just like flash with all of these great things. And so I want to thank everybody for coming on today. I love this whole conversation. Again, I think we could talk about all of this stuff for so long, but we only have so many minutes. [laughs] So thank you so much for coming. I appreciate every single one of you. I look forward to going to the Oshun Swim School pool and becoming a god and goddess in the water. We can bird while we’re floating, [all laugh] then we can go out hunting after, you know what I mean? I’m here for it. That’s what I want to see. I want to see more of that, you know what I mean? So again, thank you so much for coming. Let’s really quickly go through social media so people can follow you, and then if you have any upcoming projects, programming in whatever area, let us know.

[Lydia] Dang it. I hate going first. I feel like I’m hogging the mic! [all laugh]

[Chandrika] I like to marinate a little bit first.

[Lydia] Okay, okay. Thank you so much for having us, Sam. I just want to say thanks for the birder-hunter solidarity, the Black-Indigenous solidarity, BIPOC solidarity. I mean, it’s the way forward. It’s the future. So I’m really grateful for all that and just sharing the love of the outdoors with all of you wonderful people. So we’re on Instagram and Facebook and Twitter and LinkedIn at @HuntersOfColor. It’s pretty easy at Hunters of Color, all lower case. Follow us there. We’re on Patreon Hunters of Color. And yeah, our website, You can sign up to be a mentee like Alex. You can sign up for a mentor if you hunt and you can teach people. You got to do anti-racism course because safety is a top priority. There’s all kinds of ways to get involved now, and keep an eye out for Ambassador program stuff. And yes, thank you again for the support. [speaks Indigenous language]

[Chandrika] Well, I am for sure about to be a mentee.

[Sam] I know, me too!

[Chandrika] I just need someone who is okay with me crying the entire time.

[Lydia] I can be emotional. I make it emotional, huh Alex? [all laugh]

[Chandrika] Well, yeah. Super enjoyed this. It’s got me hyped. I guess its time to get back into birding. Like, okay! I accept! And yeah, I appreciate the invitation. I feel inspired by all of this. definitely has more info. Also on Instagram and Facebook at @OshunSwimSchool. Patreon, Oshun Swim School. Upcoming things. In the Seattle area, the swim foundations classes will be going from March all the way through October. So definitely if you’re in this area, and I’m really excited this season I’m going to be starting for the first time a deep water course for folks who are wanting to get more comfortable in water that’s beyond where you can touch, which is– There’s so much fun there. So I’m excited for that. I’m going to be in Portland in May for a weekend. That’s going to be with Wild Diversity. That’s going to be working with their leaders. I’m not sure if we’re doing one that’s open to other folks this time around, but we’ll definitely– Yeah, look at Wild Diversity because they have a lot of– And I’m doing training with their leaders, and they are doing a lot of water programming this year. They did it last summer as well. So, yeah, definitely that’s a great resource. And yeah, if you’re in New York, I’ll be out there in June for a bit. And in next fall, November, December. Or Philadelphia. I’m doing something in Philadelphia as well. So if you’re an East Coast person, I hope to see you somewhere. Yeah. And looking forward to this birding, swimming, hunting.

[Sam] [laughs]

[Chandrika] I think we need a week.

[Sam] Absolutely!

[Alex] I’m excited to hopefully be in the Pacific Northwest come that first week of May. And this was a great opportunity. Great discussion. It was great finally putting a face to the name and meeting in person, or as in person as possible. [laughs]

[Sam] Absolutely.

[Alex] Yeah. So my social medias are @N8ture_Al. That’s for Twitter and Instagram and PayPal. And that’s N-8-T-U-R-E-_-A-L. So, Nature Al with an eight. So, yeah, continue to be great!

[Sam] Thank you so much. I appreciate every single one of you, again, for being on today. I can’t wait to further our conversations and our goals and our individual deepening with each other. And yeah, I thank you all for listening. This has been “Always Be Birdin’.” Please go to and donate because you know I pay my people to come on here. Yes y’all are getting paid by Justice Outside because they keep it pimpin’ and they will pay us for our stuff. You know what I’m saying? But I appreciate everybody and thank you, and goodbye!