September 28, 2023

For those looking to discover transformation through nature, the new book “Nature Swagger” seems to be a universal roadmap.

Or in this case, a universal Rue Mapp collection.

Mapp, a Vallejo native, is the Founder and CEO of Outdoor Afro, and oversees a carefully selected and trained staff and national volunteer team. Since Outdoor Afro’s inception in 2009 as a blog, Rue has captured the attention and support of millions through a multimedia approach that is grounded in personal connections and community organizing. She’s taken celebrities like Oprah Winfrey and Serena Williams on hikes.

Last week Mapp talked with the Times-Herald to discuss “Nature Swagger” and how it’s healthy to find your nature nearby and within. Interspersed throughout “Nature Swagger” are essays from Mapp on the rich history of Black involvement in the outdoors, activism, and conservation, as well as resources for readers who want to explore nature in new ways. It is a blend of photographs, stories and Black history.

“During the last two years I wrote the book while the racial reckoning was going on throughout the nation,” Rapp said. “I wanted to double down and remind people that nature never closes and it’s always nearby.  Nature is truly a transformative platform. This book is not just myself but it’s a collection from many people, and it’s very diverse. Our youngest contributor is 9, while our oldest is 99. There are 30 contributors in all.”

Mapp said that the book is filled with all kinds of imagery, from images from the 1970s to more recent photos.

Mapp will be at Alibi Bookshop to promote “Nature Swagger” on Dec. 11.

Meanwhile, Outdoor Afro is a national not-for-profit organization that has become the nation’s leading, cutting-edge network in celebrating and inspiring Black connections and leadership in nature. They have offices in Oakland and Washington, D.C., and leadership networks around the country. With over 100 trained volunteer leaders in 30 states from around the country, Outdoor Afro connects thousands of people to outdoor experiences, and is actively changing the face of conservation. From its grassroots beginning, Outdoor Afro now enjoys national sponsorship and is recognized by major organizations for its role in addressing the ongoing need for greater diversity in the outdoors.

Mapp is also no stranger to helping out Solano County and Vallejo. Earlier this year U.S. Rep. Mike Thompson announced that Mapp is his 2022 Solano County Climate Crisis Champion.

Thompson was impressed that for the past five years, Outdoor Afro has included a policy and education cohort that has advocated for environmental protection legislation, including the Land Water Conservation Fund, which funds parks and public land. Outdoor Afro includes over 60,000 participants and over 100 volunteer leaders who promote and participate in outdoor activities, such as hiking, fishing, biking and more.

“Mike Thompson has always been consistent with his love for Outdoor Afro,” Mapp said. “He gave us accommodation in 2019 as well. He’s really special. I share the same passion for duck hunting as him and in 2018 we both participated in a community bike ride. We rode all the way from the waterfront to the Carquinez Bridge and back.”

Mapp said it’s important to explore nature in your hometown, not just places far away.

“I really like the Vallejo waterfront, because it’s so diverse,” Mapp said. “It’s a cross-section of warmth and people actually speak to you there and say ‘hello,”‘ Mapp said. “I’ve not only walked there, I’ve roller-skated there, I’ve fished there and eaten at good restaurants there.”

Mapp said she also enjoys Lake Chabot due to the Kayak groups and a few parks on Mare Island as well as her own Vista neighborhood.

“Nature truly is an equalizer,” Mapp said. “When I took Oprah and Serena on hikes, I think they just wanted to go to a place of healing where nobody was constantly telling them what to do. Someplace where they could get out of the public eye. Nature flattens all of that. The trees don’t care if you’re Black. The leaves don’t care how much money is in your bank account. I felt that they had an experience in nature that they could enjoy.”

Nature Swagger, Stories and Visions of Black Joy in the Outdoors can be purchased at Chronicle Books as well as bookstores such as Alibi Bookshop in Vallejo.

Source link