Meet triple crown hiker Will “Akuna” Robinson, plus it’s the Louisiana Outdoors Outreach Program. SheChangesClimate.Org and fund nature, fund the future!
Triple Crown Hiker Will “Akuna” Robinson, Louisiana Outdoors Outreach Program, SheChangesClimate.Org, Fund Nature, Fund the Future
WILL “AKUNA” ROBINSON
The mission of The Climate Daily is not just to bring you stories of people and groups taking action to combat climate change. It’s also to expose you all to inspirational BIPOC and ADA people working to bring themselves and us closer to nature. Because the closer we get to nature, the more we will collectively fight to save it. Groups like “We Got Next,” and “Outdoor Afro” and Corinna Newsome. Now, Meet Will “Akuna” Robinson.
In 2016, during a 12-year stint self-medicating while dealing with his PTSD and war wounds from time served in the field during the Iraq War, Robinson watched the movie Wild, starring Reese Witherspoon. That’s when he decided he needed to try something different. Three weeks later Robinson entered the trailhead the Pacific Crest Trail at its southern terminus.
Long distance hiking actually never occurred to him as a young child in coastal Louisiana. In an interview with Outsider Magazine, Robinson said when he was growing up, a lot of kids like him didn’t get outdoors experiences. They were told they didn’t belong outside or that it’s not what Black people do. Either way, as a people “we decide that it’s altogether off limits for us,” Robinson says.
Back in 2003, Robinson spent his war downtime reading. He found a discarded guide to the Pacific Crest Trail. Thumbing through that guidebook became his escape from the ugliness of war.
He didn’t complete the PCT the first time. But he did so on his second go a year later. And in 2019, he completed the triple crown of hiking—The Pacific Crest, the Continental Divide and the Appalachian Trails.
And now he’s the subject of a two mini-documentaries on YouTube. One called, The Triple Crown of Hiking—Will “Akuna” Robinson, and Merrell Presents: Akuna Hikes-PTSD Healing Through Hiking.
Why does this matter to us? Says Robinson, “If more people of color, more LGBTQ people, more veterans start seeing themselves represented outside, they’ll feel safer there. And then they’ll be more likely to get involved.” And people who get involved in the outdoors tend to get involved in fighting climate change.
Will Robinson’s story is inspirational in many ways, not the least of which is his connection to the Louisiana Outdoors Outreach Program, or LOOP.
LOOP NOLA is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to provide positive, life-changing outdoor experiences for children and youth in Greater New Orleans. LOOP NOLA addresses the lack of opportunity for urban children to experience the outdoors. LOOP nurtures students’ connections to nature by developing a sense of wonder at the natural world along with their social, technical and academic skills through repeated exposure to outdoor adventures over multiple years.
Through its outdoor programs, LOOP NOLA is committed to making the outdoors and the activities it offers more equitable with priority on serving youth of color who have been historically marginalized. It creates a safe and welcome environment that allows young people to explore, learn, and develop a sense of belonging in the outdoors.
LOOP partners with 31 schools and other non-profits. Last year it served close to 1400 low-income families and over 2,200 students.
LOOP was founded by Dan Forman, A Rhode Islander who fell in love with the music and culture of New Orleans. Forman believed the lessons children learned in outdoor sports could help them avoid the cycle of dysfunction and violence that plagues the city’s poor. That belief was based on his own experiences as a troubled youth who found the right path during Maine outdoor camps.
Dan Forman died suddenly in 2012, at age 46, but his legacy lives on.
In 2020, SHEChangesClimate was founded by Antoinette Vermilye, Bianca Pitt and Elise Buckle, with the aim to bring diversity and inclusiveness, transparency and accountability to the COP negotiations on Climate Change. because they are able to draw on wider knowledge bases and experiences.
Antoinette Vermilye is co-founder of the Gallifrey Foundation—which identifies collaborative opportunities to tackle ocean conservation issues. Bianca Pitt is on the Development Board of ClientEarth, an environmental charity with a unique approach – we use the power of law to change the system for a brighter, healthier future. Pitt is also a fellow at the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufacture and Commerce.
Elise Buckle is founder and CEO of Switzerland’s Climate & Sustainability, a Platform of collaboration to facilitate partnerships and accelerate action for climate and sustainability. She’s also a strategic advisor to the UN Partnership for Climate, People & Nature.
Our current focus is on getting COP26 to achieve a 50:50 split of men and women in all their diversity in its top-level leadership team in the UK, but our global mission is to ensure ALL delegations have at least a 50% representation of diverse women at their top levels.
Why does this matter to us? Because it’s been scientifically proven fact that diverse boards and leadership teams are better at being leaders, better at governance, and more successful in the work they do. They’re better at negotiation, get better results and can make more inclusive and balanced decisions. So if we’re serious about combatting climate change, there better be a lot women in the rooms where it happens.
FUND NATURE, FUND THE FUTURE
According to the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation, planet Earth provides humans with an estimated $100 trillion annually in goods and services. It may be the first time that a serious analysis of the implied benefits of living on Earth has been quantified in frankly stark capitalistic terms.
Why does this matter to us? Because sometimes the only way to get people motivated is to show them how much money there is to lose by not taking the appropriate action. Conversely, emphasizing how much money can be made from saving the planet has the same effect.
So that’s why a recent analysis of ten EU national resilience and recovery plans (NRRPs) highlights their common big miss—failing to mention investing in nature-based climate change solutions. The report was authored by VividEconomics and the Switzerland-based Climate & Sustainability organization and released in June 2021.
The report highlights that only 8% of recovery plans’ spending enhances nature, which misses a major opportunity to invest in a nature-positive recovery, while 10% of spending harms nature, showing an outsized neglect of nature considerations.
“Our research shows that nature-based solutions are particularly strong stimulus measures since their employment and economic impacts are front-loaded and their upskilling demands are relatively low,” said Jeffrey Beyer, the economist who led the research for Vivid Economics. “Nature-based solutions can also be targeted at particularly hard-hit areas within Member State countries, including rural places where new employment opportunities can be harder to identify. For countries with net-zero climate targets, nature-based solutions are the only investments that actually withdraw carbon from the atmosphere.” Sound familiar?
With these competitive potential benefits and tens of millions of acres of land available for nature-based solutions, the resilience and recovery plans miss an opportunity to score a triple win for climate, nature and the economy.