The Writing for Change Journal reveals new collection topic: “Conservation and belonging in the outdoors”

Illustration by Sydney Smith

The Writing for Change Journal takes the typical constraints of a publication and dismisses them in favor of establishing an online environment that promotes creativity and a passion for writing. A multitude of submission types are welcome, ranging from photography to poetry.

Kyle Boggs, an assistant professor at Boise State as well as the founder of the Writing for Change Journal discussed their new collection, “conservation and belonging in the outdoors,” and why he feels this topic is so important.

“There’s the conservation end which is an invitation to conservation biologists and others who find themselves in the hard sciences who lack a venue to express their own personal responses to the research that they’re doing,” Boggs said,. “In the year of 2020 at the tail end of the racial justice uprisings around the country, there were a lot of outdoor organizations, Patagonia, REI, North Face, who made these commitments to racial justice. I think a lot of them realized that they needed to figure out a way to make those commitments actionable.”

Boggs discussed the organizations that came to fruition around this time as well. 

“Alongside that, there’s a lot of organizations that popped up during those times,” Boggs said. “Like Outdoor Afro and inclusion organizations that relate to race and accessibility and LGBTQ groups, hiking groups, things like that popped up everywhere.”

Hailey Pike, writer and editor’s assistant for the journal as well as a Boise State senior majoring in writing rhetoric and technical communications discussed why she feels passionate about the topic of conservation and belonging. 

“The more that we can talk about our relationship with not only our community but how we can thrive in our community, in something that we have taken for granted such as nature, allows space for conversations that we wouldn’t be having,” Pike said. “We can also talk about how these things have impacted us as humans and how these injustices that we see have not only impacted where we live but who we are and how we communicate with each other.”

Pike touched on the lack of inclusivity that can occur in outdoor communities, referencing a regional outdoor recreation conference Boggs attended last spring where E-bikes were booed.

“When people have some sort of physical disability or anything like that, that helps them be able to be active in these areas,” Pike said. “But there’s also the Sierra Club that we just talked to, they’re working on a queer hike and that’s just something that you don’t often see as a queer presenting person going out into the Boise foothills, not feeling comfortable with the people you’re passing or how you’re being interacted with and trying to come up with these conversations that are going to help others understand why inclusivity is so important in these areas.”

Veronica Yellowhair, a writer for the journal and Boise State senior majoring in English, discussed how this journal topic provides room for discourse regarding sacred sites.

“’I’m Native American. I’m from the Navajo tribe,” Yellowhair said. “Many tribal sacred sites are being developed and sometimes without the consent of the tribe, or even the tribal members that live on that particular site.”

Yellowhair discussed her personal experience with barriers being placed on sacred land.

“…Where my family’s from in northern Arizona they tried to build a big resort called the Escalade Project on sacred land, especially a sacred two rivers where the Little Colorado and the Colorado meet on the Grand Canyon,” Yellowhair said. “”The Colorado River is shrinking as we know, as of now, and the more that water is used up, the more it’s going to dry out and that water provides for at least six to seven states.”

Yellowhair discussed the piece she is writing for the journal, and how these situations have influenced her work.

“I’m writing something about the land up there where my mother and my ancestors are from, talking about the plants out there, talking about the mountain ranges,” Yellowhair said. “They all have certain names, but in my family, they’re Navajo names. For example, there’s this rock called missing tooth rock… there’s a gap and my mom said that right there that’s called Tse bi wo’ giizhi.”

“I think that conserving and protecting this land is really important,” Yellowhair said. “It’s not just important to keep these places preserved, but their cultural significance to tribes.” 

Yellowhair has been recognized for her work with the journal and asked to speak at multiple events.

“I was contacted to give a talk at Case Western University law school… it was a student there that’s native… she agreed with my point of view on how the word savage is a derogatory word and offensive word for describing Native Americans,” Yellowhair said. “Another student contacted me and I talked on Indigenous Day via Zoom.”
The submission deadline for the “Conservation and belonging in the outdoors” collection is Nov. 19 . So be sure to start drumming up ideas or concepts sooner rather than later to be a part of this incredible publication.

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