Thought-provoking since 2015

Welcome to Terra Incognita Media where we are dedicated to providing nuanced narratives about race, class, and gender in relation to nature.

Empower. Create. Share.

Empower. Create. Share.

 Mercy Sham via her Instagram

Mercy Sham via her Instagram

1.     @WILDDIVERSITY. I remember the first time I met Mercy Sham. She made me laugh constantly as a group of women, femme, and non-binary individuals gathered in the dark, rainy month of November to binge watch Stranger Things. Her whip-smart one-liners, and spit-your-beer-out-hilarious commentary was all I was living for during *arguably* the most depressing month of Portland winter (up there with December, January…and February). Sham offers this comfort, ease, and warmth that translates to the work she does with Wild Diversity. Wild Diversity, based in Portland, Oregon, is removing barriers to the outdoors. Armed with their community-donated gear library, this grassroots organization facilitates connection with the outdoors for people of color and the queer community in the Pacific Northwest and beyond. In the promotional video, Sham says, “I think Wild Diversity came from my desire to support my community. You know, being African-American in the whitest city in the country can be really difficult because there is a lack of representation for POC and Queer people in the outdoor industry, and representation is important. It’s what makes us feel comfortable and connected.” Already creating a robust community of active POC and Queer outdoorists, Wild Diversity is here to provide a myriad of ways to get outside and enjoy yourself.

Coming up for Wild Diversity: PNW Classic Backpacking Trip with the Venture Out Project: September 6th-9th 2018 the organization is hosting a backpacking trip for absolute           beginners, and/or seasoned hikers.

 Image via Lead2Life

Image via Lead2Life

2.    @littlenows@LEAD2LIFE. Founded by brontë velez, Lead to Life is a source of healing and connection for Black, Brown, and Indigenous folks impacted by environmental racism. From the first post on their Instagram account: “A People's Alchemy for Regeneration is transforming weapons into shovels/tools and holding ceremonial-tree plantings at sites impacted by violence across Atlanta and Oakland. what we do to the Earth, we do to one another. The project of environmental racism harms the Earth and black/brown/indigenous communities simultaneously. This calls us into exploring how ecological restoration can serve as a practice in restorative justice. our rituals in alchemy are an inquiry in decomposing violence and reimagining what is possible.”

Inspired by Mexican artist Pedro Reyes, and an ancient lineage of Swords to Plowshares creators, Lead to Life chose to locate their alchemy and cultural healing work in the U.S. – occupied Turtle Island.

Velez was a guest on For the Wild's podcast in which they write about them: "As a black-latinx multimedia artist, life-long student, and designer, their praxis (theory + action) lives at the intersections of critical geography, black liberation ecologies and creative placemaking." VELEZ IS AS ENCHANTING AND INSPIRING AS IT GETS!

This past April, Lead to Life put together a series of events complete with a “Peoples           Supper,” ceremonies, and a permaculture action day. 

 Jolie Varela on a sunrise hike via her Instagram

Jolie Varela on a sunrise hike via her Instagram

3.     @JOLIEVARELA@INDIGENOUSWOMENHIKE. Some of our readers may be familiar with the John Muir Trail, but Jolie Varela, founder of Indigenous Women Hike, is gaining fiery momentum every day to change that. This trail is not John Muir’s. What many known as the “JMT” is actually a segment of ancestral trade routes – routes that Jolie’s Indigenous ancestors traveled. Jolie, a member of the Tule River Yokut and Paiute Tribes, lives in Payahüünadü where her people have lived since time immemorial, what settlers call Bishop, California. Jolie is not here just to set the record straight that the “JMT” is actually Nümü Poyo (though this is a great and exhausting feat in and of itself), but she has also created Indigenous Women Hike as a platform for gathering fellow Indigenous women to work towards healing. It is a vehicle that reaffirms her peoples’ connection to the land through group hikes. Jolie is making great strides in the outdoor industry just in time for the first inaugural hike of Nümü Poyo coming up this summer. Read more about Jolie Varela and Indigenous Women Hike here!

 “Great Grandmama– you are the resilience within me.” - Image and quote via Brown Environmentalist's Instagram

“Great Grandmama– you are the resilience within me.” - Image and quote via Brown Environmentalist's Instagram

4.     @MIKEY.AE / @BROWNENVIRONMENTALIST. With their tender new storytelling series called “#beenoutside,” the collaborative media collective, Brown Environmentalist Media is rewriting the outdoor narrative and amplifying the stories and leadership of BIPOC in nature. On their first post introducing the campaign, Brown Environmentalist writes that #beenoutside is, “…a rally to celebrate the different and many ways that Black, Indigenous, and People of Color have spent time in the outdoors for generations and throughout history, and how BIPOC continue to enjoy time outside today.”

Brown Environmentalist has partnered with several organizations of color to amplify representation of BIPOC. Some of their projects include: Brothers of Climbing Springfest, Latinx in the Environment Summit, PGM One Summit, and work with the Pew Research Center. WOAH. BE is a proud member of the coalition Diversify Outdoors.

Founder Michael A. Estrada has an impressive track record with his passions for storytelling, environmental justice, and creative engagement, he transitioned in 2016 to documentary journalism, with the ongoing commitment to elevate the voices of communities and people through story and visual representation. BE Media Co. is an aspiration toward a reframed public imagination where BIPOC are seen as the inherent leaders of the environment. 

 Image via ZeroWasteHabesha Instagram account

Image via ZeroWasteHabesha Instagram account

5.     @ZEROWASTEHABESHA. We want to express how grateful we are by saying THANKS A FREAKING BUNCH to Brown Environmentalist because it is due to their Instagram account that we found Olivia Lapierre (Firewain Adunia), also known as ZeroWasteHabesha. Lapierre is an Ethiopian American environmental justice community organizer, a self-described Black feminist, and a zero waste enthusiast who focuses her work on environmental racism, environmental reparations, and decolonizing sustainability. 

Lapierre utilizes social media to share information about the ongoing genocide via environmental racism happening in this country. Recently, Lapierre posted breaking news from the Detroit News, which proclaims that the state of Michigan is done providing Flint residents with free bottled water.

ZeroWasteHabesha is a platform to uplift the voices of BIPOC, to bring attention to systemic and structural racism (i.e. police brutality, mass incarceration, school to prison pipeline) and how these phenomena relate to climate justice. Lapierre reminds us in an article published on Loam Magazine’s website, “If you’re not actively dismantling systemic racism then you are participating by being complacent! Staying silent and choosing to be neutral in the face of injustices is upholding white supremacy.”

 Image via Belowground_Activity Instagram

Image via Belowground_Activity Instagram

6.     @BELOWGROUND_ACTIVITY. We gotta take a deep breath before introducing our next golden highlight…Critical Ecology, which you can find on Instagram at @belowground_activity, is about “unearthing how marginalized folks experience the environment and science, as well as exploring the transformative power of ecology for justice.” Founded by Suzanne Pierre @puesierre, Critical Ecology is exposing the way, “the rarity of women of color becoming environmental experts is no accident, but by design,” as Pierre says herself.

We have put too much trust in scientific data that has been created by the hegemony of whiteness, and Critical Ecology is here as a desperately needed resource to encourage us all to ask questions, demand accountability, and fight for justice for marginalized communities.

Pierre is a PhD student studying ecology and biogeochemistry at Cornell University. She    is accepting a position as a UC Berkeley President's Postdoctoral Fellow from 2018-2020 in the labs of Dr. Todd Dawson and Dr. Mary Firestone. Pierre reminds us that systematic barriers to entry keep   many people outside of science. To overcome these barriers, she worked to develop the first effort to recruit underrepresented minority students to the Cornell Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. Through collaboration with other graduate students, faculty, and administrators, they brought 22 prospective students to Cornell in 2017. Can you get any more IMPRESSIVE?!

7.     @AMIRIOFREEMAN / @BEINGGREENWHILEBLACK. Mae C. Jemison. Alice Walker. Cardi B. Marvin Gaye. Angela Davis. Prince. Malcolm X. Assata Shakur. Oprah. Obama. Jenna Wortham. bell hooks. Renee Gunter. Only a few icons that have been featured on the incredibly lush and infinitely magical Instagram account Being Green While Black @beinggreenwhileblack. BGWB exemplifies the relationship between Blackness and closeness to the land. In “'Our Beautiful Statues and Monuments’: An Ode to My Grandfather’s Garden,” published in the digital publication Philadelphia Printworks, Curator of BGWB, Amirio Freeman, wrote, “Black bodies are hefty and weighty with presence, constantly traversing public spaces to disrupt attempts to erase the imprint of Black people in America. Our bodies are “our beautiful statues and monuments” that have been erected and unmoved despite being situated in the most hostile and infertile of soils.”

Freeman, originally from Hampton, Virginia, graduated from the College of William and Mary with a B.A. in Public Policy and a minor in Africana Studies. He completed an Honors Thesis on the role of the environment in Afro-Diasporic healing modalities while focusing on diversity and sustainability endeavors. More of his profound work comes in the form of programming and projects dedicated to diversifying sustainability efforts, and he also served as a research assistant for an academic paper regarding Americans’ changing perceptions of poverty, the poor, and public assistance.  It is without a doubt that his incredible work encourages thought-provoking and much needed dialogue around Black identities, liberation, nurturance, healing, reconnection, and justice.

In the words of Philadelphia Printworks, “praise the Lorde,” for Amirio Freeman and BGWB!

 Image via LaLobaLoca Instagram

Image via LaLobaLoca Instagram

8.     @LALOBALOCASHARES. Surviving capitalism and white supremacy is easier when you follow La Loba Loca @lalobalocashares. From warning people that the only “ethical consumption” of white sage is homegrown, so as not to buy it and take this ancestral plant of Indigenous peoples, to going in depth in online courses about radically and consciously menstruating, La Loba Loca is here to impart Brujeria Feminista as a political practice of balance.

La Loba Loca is a Queer, Chocolla, Andina, South American migrant, artist, researcher, writer, handpoke tattooist, full spectrum companion/doula, aspiring midwife student, seed-saver, gardener and yerbetera, who facilitates shares and circles on herbalism, plant relations, social justice, healing justice and autonomous health. The horrifying lack of resources and information geared towards Spanish-speaking communities of color, as well as queer and trans communities of color, are major concerns that Loba strives to alleviate.

All hail Loba for doing the work of decentering the white supremacist, cisheteropatriarchy by talking about radical self-love, herbal feminist medicine, and remembering and reclaiming “Abuelita Knowledge.”  

 Image via QueerEcology Instagram

Image via QueerEcology Instagram

9.     @QUEERECOLOGY. “Going farther than imaginable with the speed of a falcon,” to quote their introductory video, the Institute of Queer Ecology (IQECO) is here to disrupt and reimagine the way we study ecology. The term “queer ecology” refers to practices that aim to disrupt prevailing heterosexist discursive and institutional articulations of sexuality and nature, and also to reimagine evolutionary processes, ecological interactions, and environmental politics in light of queer theory.

Fun fact: the IQECO logo is a tribute to Roy and Silo, the famous gay chinstrap penguins in Central Park Zoo. IQECO wrote in a previous Instagram post, “In 1999 they built a rock nest, and attempted to hatch a stone as if it were an egg. Their gesture inspired zoo keepers to give the pair a real egg, from another penguin pair that couldn’t hatch it. Roy and Silo successfully raised a chick named Tango as a result.”

QUEER ICONS FOR THE WIN!

 Image via NatureChola's Instagram 

Image via NatureChola's Instagram 

10.  @NATURECHOLA/ @GETOUT.STAYOUT. In one of her most recent posts on Instagram, Karin Ramos poses delighted and smiling with her arm flexed, cheeks radiating with her natural glow, to show off the beautiful gold bracelet she made herself with the words “Get Out Stay Out,” stamped into the band. Also known as, @NatureChola, Ramos is the founder of Get Out Stay Out, a non-profit that invites kids, particularly youth of Indigenous backgrounds, to run, play, and discover themselves in an outdoor environment.  

Ramos, Oaxaqueña, Indígena, Ñuu Savi/Scu-iia, addresses hard issues like colonization and colorism on her Instagram. She writes, “Let’s create a better world for the unheard voices of the indigenous people of the Americas (yes..Mexico, Guatemala, Guerrero) stop the derogatory terms and check yourself for racism and biases within your own circle.” From clean ups, to hikes, to multi-day backpacking excursions, Ramos has already positively impacted the lives of countless Indigenous youths and youths of color. Her unrelenting work ethic and personal stamina inspire all of us to keep going. YES!!!

 Image via Jenny Bruso's Instagram

Image via Jenny Bruso's Instagram

11.  @JENNYBRUSO/ @UNLIKELY HIKERS. Jenny Bruso from Unlikely Hikers was recently highlighted in the Portland Mercury, a Portland weekly alternative newspaper, and we could not be more thrilled!

Unlikely Hikers is a diverse and inclusive Instagram community featuring the underrepresented outdoorsperson. The platform features fat people, people of color, queer, trans, gender nonconforming folks, people with disabilities and so on. Unlikely Hikers aims to never conflate these experiences, but to explore and build community at their intersections.

Jenny is someone who knows that multiple important issues can be addressed at once, which is why not only does she talk about representation of queer and fat LBTQIA folks, but she also notes how necessary it is to acknowledge the land we are on. We LOVE this Jenny Bruso quote from the feature article published in the Portland Mercury about Unlikely Hikers: “It’s funny when people say they go to the outdoors to ‘get away from all of the political shit,’ because the way land is acquired and its history is so fucking politicized,” she says.

With that in mind, every hike she leads begins with a speech: In addition to setting guidelines restricting diet or weight loss conversations, she also gives an acknowledgement to the land.

“We talk about the land we’re recreating on and who the land belongs to—because we’re on Native land. There’s a lot of language in outdoors culture like ‘crushing miles’ or ‘bagging this mountain.’ [That’s] settler/colonialist bullshit language. I talk about that because I want people to be aware about how they talk about the land. The land gives us so much, and it comes at a price. Native peoples are continuing to lose their lands to this day. It’s not just our playground.” THANK GODDESS FOR JENNY BRUSO. 

How Couchsurfing is Putting Women* in Danger

How Couchsurfing is Putting Women* in Danger

Wakanda Forever: Anticolonialism as Sustainable Technology

Wakanda Forever: Anticolonialism as Sustainable Technology