Nature for Everyone: Working for Outdoor Inclusivity and Respect (Brandi Small, inclusivity advocate and hiker)

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Humans Outside Brandi Small

People like to say nature is for everyone, but do we really act like it is?

From a lack of bigger bodies in outdoor marketing, to other-ing attitudes from both rangers and fellow outdoor users, the problems are real.

Never experienced these challenges or don’t know they exist? That might be because you’re not someone at whom they are targeted.

Creating welcoming spaces outside is everyone’s work, and it starts with acknowledging the problem by listening to the personal experiences of those who have faced these issues. How do they handle them? How can we make spaces that are open — not in words, but in action — for everyone?

Brandi Small lays it all out in this episode based on her own experience on the trail and in the campgrounds.

Don’t miss this chance to make a difference. Listen now.

Some of the good stuff:

[3:49] Brandi Small’s favorite outdoor space

[4:22] How Brandi became someone who likes to go outside

[7:58] Visiting all of California’s National Parks

[8:41] Brandi’s first love

[14:34] Don’t miss out on this super awesome Ski Babes discount

[16:31] Diving into representation outside

[18:00] Have things gotten worse?

[20:36] This has never happened to me and it’s not a shock

[23:00] How much of this is race and how much of this is body size?

[24:08] I am absolutely astonished

[30:56] What is the work to address these issues?

[35:00] Brandi’s favorite outdoor moment

Connect with this episode:

Listen to this episode on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, or wherever you find your favorite podcasts.

The following is an edited transcript of this episode of Humans Outside.

Amy Bushatz: You know that feeling you get when you spend even a little bit of time outside? No matter how challenging it is to get out there, spending time in nature is always worth it. I’m your host, Amy Bushatz and this is another episode of Humans Outside. Join me as we hear from fascinating outdoor minded guests and use the Humans Outside 365 challenge to push us outside daily. Ready to hear from experts and outdoor lovers who make heading into nature just a part of who they are, while we work to do the same? Let’s go.

It’s a problem across industries, but particularly noticeable in the outdoor space. Look at any advertising anywhere, and you’ll see that humans outside, according to these guys, are lean, with rippling muscles, never ever suffering because doing stuff outside is hard, and not always sunshine and rainbows, and very white.

In short, what we see from many outdoor brands telling us who goes outside is not at all the same as who nature is actually for, which should be everyone, no matter their size, shape, culture, race, gender orientation, whatever.

Of course there’s a lot of reasons for this laid down across time and history. It has to do with the marketing industry. It has to do with racism through which Black bodies were systematically excluded from accessing public outdoor spaces, including parks, pools, foraging, and more- things that today we proudly proclaim as for everyone. And when you don’t see people like you outside because of these things, you might think that people like you don’t do stuff like that. That these outdoor people are not your people, that you don’t belong.

Outside is for everyone. And today we’re going to talk to someone who’s working to change the representation gap through a pair of acts, going outside herself, and then sharing it on social media.

Brandi Small is a Black woman based in Los Angeles who is passionate about hiking, camping, spending time outside, and encouraging everyone to get outdoors. Her goal on social media, where she posts photos and videos of her life outside, is to share positive representation in outdoor spaces. Today, Brandi and I are going to talk about her life outside, the challenges of sharing that representation, and the simple things every human can do to keep that positive message going.

Brandi welcome to Humans Outside.

Brandi Small: Thank you. I’m excited.

Amy Bushatz: Well, I am so happy to have you here, and I have sure enjoyed watching your outdoor adventures. I’ve seen you paddle boarding, I’ve seen you hiking, I’ve seen you out there, just having the, having really the good times and really inspiring me, even though going outside is something that I do do every day, but to go out and do more myself.

So thank you for that. I’ve really enjoyed it.

Brandi Small: Perfect. I’m glad to hear that. Yay.

Amy Bushatz: Yeah. Yeah. Especially with my paddle board. I got this paddle board for my birthday last year and I struggle to remember to take it out. Especially, I don’t know, towards the end of summer maybe. It just kind of sits in its bag, not blown up. And so when I see your videos, I’m like, ah, paddle boarding. I could do that today. So awesome. Thank you for that.

Brandi Small: Yeah. I, as I obsessively think of my paddleboard all day, every day,

Amy Bushatz: So you’re balancing me is what we’re saying.

Brandi Small: Yeah oh, I overdo it probably.

Amy Bushatz: Yeah, but it’s so, no, it’s so great and gosh, you know, I love that this idea, like you have the equipment and you use it and I really struggle with that. And I try to tell myself that if I’m going to have equipment and I don’t use it, then I have to get rid of it, which sort of motivates me to get out there using it because why would I own something that I never use? So the pedal board has, it has gotten use, but it definitely gets more use after I see your videos. So yeah.

Brandi Small: Yeah. Yeah. I’m glad to hear that.

Amy Bushatz: Okay, so we start all of our podcast episodes imagining ourselves in our guest’s favorite outdoor space. Were we having this conversation hanging outside somewhere that you love? Where are we with you today?

Brandi Small: We’re probably going to be in Joshua tree sitting by that scenic view. I can’t remember what it’s called, but it’s a bunch of picnic tables right there. And you can actually grill. So that’s what we’re sitting in. We’re about to come up on an epic sunset.

Amy Bushatz: Nice. Can we grill while we’re there? Because I could use a snack. I’m not going to lie to you.

Brandi Small: Absolutely. We can. I, that’s why I brought burgers.

Amy Bushatz: Excellent. Good talk. Okay. Scene is set. I am here for that. So, tell us, how did you become someone who likes to go outside? What is your outdoor story?

Brandi Small: Well, I grew up in Oregon and as you know, I feel like that’s one of the Meccas of the outdoor because it’s so green. It’s so beautiful. There are trails in your backyard. Literally, you can step out and then there are trails and there are waterfalls. And you can pick fruit. And so it was something that was always accessible to me.

And so it became just a more passionate as I got older and was able to travel. And then I was raising my kids. And they also, we would go on road trips to go do these outdoor things because that’s how I grew up. And I thought it was very important that they grew up like that as well. And I just through doing all that, I realized like, this could be beneficial for other people too, who look like me and I can just try to help other people experience the same thing that I’m experiencing, from hiking to camping to paddling to water, whitewater rafting, all those things.

When did you start establishing your platform? How long have you been making this like as a concentrated push? I, Ooh, maybe 2018, 2019. It was when I was coming back from a trip to Zion and I was like, I must share this with everyone because my experience, it was so beautiful there. I was like, Oh my goodness. It was so amazing. So I, that’s when I started it on the drive home, coming back from there. So like three years.

Amy Bushatz: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. And how old are your kids?

Brandi Small: Oh, so my oldest is 30. then I have a 29 year old, 26 year old and 22 year old. I really haven’t think about it, but yeah, they’re adults now.

Amy Bushatz: Yeah, they’re adults now, under no circumstance would I look at you, by the way, and say you have adult children, number one. I thought you were going to say that your kids were like 10, 11 years old. I don’t know. I don’t know.

Brandi Small: Yeah, I get that a lot.

Amy Bushatz: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. But number two, that just really speaks to how long this has been on your heart. Because if you have a 30 year old child, this is 30 years of you taking your kids and making this a part of who you are. And the other thing I think is important to think about with that is 30 years ago, there was not this like, I don’t know, there, there was no social media around this. There was no talk, you know, like, Oh, we’re kids and outdoor, you know, all these things that are sort of in our face right now in this outdoor industry space and in the social media space about spending time outside with your kids- they didn’t exist. You know, they just didn’t exist. It wasn’t something that people made a lifestyle you know, what you’re doing now, that didn’t exist. And so, to have that be sort of a core of who you are at that point really, I don’t know, speaks to how core of you, who are it is. Because it’s just like this part of your lifestyle, not an inspiration from somebody you ran across. I don’t know. Does that make sense?

Brandi Small: No, it does make sense. And it’s been something like, like you said, for a very long time, we’ve road tripped all over and we’ve gone camping. What, I mean right before COVID, we were probably on like year 14 or 15 of going to Kings Canyon as a family every year. So it’s been a, it’s been a long time. Like you said, there was no internet. Now it’s, I feel like it’s everywhere so it’s almost like go outside and play.

Amy Bushatz: Yeah. yeah. So talk to us about some of your outdoor exploits. you have what I want to know what you have done outside that you loved other than paddleboarding. We already talked about that. And I think I saw that you have visited all of California’s National Parks so you’re going to need to tell us about that too. Because that’s, I don’t even know how many of them there are. And I am from California. So that’s a little bit of throwing myself under the bus. But there you go.

Brandi Small: Let’s start with the California National Parks. There’s nine. I just completed like Pinnacles, like about a year ago, that was my last park that I needed to go to. I just love that we have that access to all those parks and what the furthest one from me is about eight hours, which is the Redwoods.

I really love going to national parks because it’s so much, to do inside of them. You can camp, you can hike. There’s always some type of water trail. I just like hanging out wherever there are trees, really. Um, I like to sit by and watch the sunsets and all the parks.

Amy Bushatz: . And I’d love to know what you really love to do outside. Like, what is your, some of your favorite stuff to do while you’re out there other than paddle boarding?

Brandi Small: Right, so my first love is always hiking. I love to hike. That is like my number one go-to thing. I like a good peak. I like a good peak with a board that says I’ve done this so many feet. I also just love camping. I like waking up outside. I love camping so much. I also like whitewater rafting- really enjoy that. I did that in West Virginia, which was pretty cool. But first and foremost, we’ll probably always be hiking and camping like that’s my favorite tent camping, car camping. Yeah, that will always be the thing that I love and go to first.

Amy Bushatz: Yeah. Yeah. What is it about the hike that speaks to you? You said you, you liked the peaks, you liked the sign, what, is there something in the process of hiking that speaks to you or is it really just that moment of like, I did it.

Brandi Small: It’s more like it’s a build up. I’m like a child every time I plan to go on a hike and I’m going to get ready at 430 in the morning to go watch a, you know, to try to get to the top by the time the sunrise come. It’s the whole thing for me. It’s the preparing to go. It’s the getting there. It’s the lacing up my boots. It’s taking the time to really enjoy the solitude. It’s, I love when the trail wakes up, you know, like when you start hearing the birds and you start seeing, I love to be there when it wakes up. It just really excites me. And I always feel like every hike I go on is like the first hike I’ve ever been on. I’m still that excited about hiking and I still love it that much. So it’s the whole process of everything. It’s watching the sun come up. It’s watching the clouds move. It’s just every single thing and it’s saying good morning to people on the trail. That’s also like one of my highlights. Like, like good morning. I don’t know. I love it.

Amy Bushatz: Yeah. Yeah. That’s so, oh, I love that visualization of that because that is, I think very I don’t know, as you, it’s almost as if when you watch the trail wake up, you yourself are waking up to the world around you and to this, just this almost, I like to describe it as soul food. Like, it just feeds me.

Brandi Small: Yes. And it’s like, I have anxiety, so it really is such a calming effect for me too. I feel like once I’ve done a hike, I can tackle the next couple of days because I feel so relaxed and I feel so connected to like the ground underneath me and I feel very like, solid as it were, and I just love that about it. And I try to get out there as much as possible.

Amy Bushatz: Yeah. That connectedness. I’m not to go back to the waking up, but I think that’s a part of that too, right? That when you are, when you’re outside, you’re sort of a part of this bigger thing and you’re witnessing it and it’s impacting you and you’re just sort of all like you’re, everybody’s there together. And for better or for worse. And so when the weather’s bad, you’re in it, you’re there together. When the weather’s great, you’re in it, you’re there together. And it’s this moment of sort of becoming at the same time as everything else. It’s just, you know, you said connected to the ground. It’s very grounding is how I feel.

Brandi Small: It’s very, yeah, I totally agree. It’s very grounding. I feel, I don’t know, sometimes I go in, I have like some anxiety that’s built up with all the anticipation. But once I leave, I feel like, like that was the best hike of my life. And it feels like it was the first time, like I’ve been on a hike ever, like that experience has never gotten old to me.

Amy Bushatz: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. And you mentioned whitewater rafting. So I had the opportunity to go whitewater rafting up here in Alaska this summer, on some very big water. And it was crazy and so cold, but man, what a rush. And I feel that, you know, like that’s not something I’ve spent a lot of time doing, but wow. How fun was that?

Brandi Small: It was so amazing and we were with like a random group of people who also had never done it. But then it was like a couple people who did. And it was just amazing and the writer is so cold So you try your best to listen to the directions that are being given so you don’t flip out when you’re going down I think we were doing like level four. I think we even did one or two level fives. So it was just an amazing experience. I loved it in New River Gorge. Awesome.

Amy Bushatz: Yeah.

Brandi Small: That’s where we did that it was beautiful.

Amy Bushatz: Yeah. I was like, so help me God. I am not getting out of this boat. If it is the last thing I do, I am in this boat.

Brandi Small: And I’m like, everybody pay attention, listen to the directions, and

Amy Bushatz: That’s right.

Brandi Small: We didn’t flip out.

Amy Bushatz: Yeah. Yeah. At this particular river, the very first thing that the guides did was had us all swim 200 meters down the river because it is so common to get flipped out that I was like, So you’re like already, I mean the water’s like 36 degrees. So you’re already wet and cold by the time the trip starts because these are, we have dry suits on, but they’re more like damp suits if I’m being honest. Like, yeah. So I was like, I don’t know who’s dry in this but but it is not me. and so, yeah. And so I was like, I am 1000 percent not getting out of this boat again. So if you, until we are all done.

Brandi Small: Exactly it doesn’t matter when you go, it’s cold. Summer- it doesn’t matter. It’s the water’s just freezing. So yeah, I felt that. I didn’t want to get dumped out.

Amy Bushatz: No. But at the same time, you’re like in the water, you’re having the rush of being there and moving with it. And I don’t know, that just really speaks to you and like feeling that power, right? It’s kind of like being at the ocean. You feel this connectiveness to this thing that is so powerful. And there you are just being a part of it. I don’t know how else to explain that. It’s, yeah.

Brandi Small: No, that’s perfect because it’s so massive and it’s so big and it’s like you’re just this little tiny, taking up this little tiny space in this big thing. And it’s like… Yeah, it was amazing. I loved it.

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Okay. So today we’re going to talk about your passion point, which is positive representation in outdoor spaces. Before you started, as you started spending time outside in your life with your children, did you see hiking, camping as something welcoming to someone who looks like you? Even though it was something you had grown up around and doing, was that, did that feel like a welcoming space as you were in it?

Brandi Small: You know? Yeah. Because growing up in Oregon, absolutely. I really felt like it was a space that I belonged in because, like I said, it’s in my backyard. So it’s my backyard. And I’m welcome there to go on the trails and hike and, you know, I did not see people who look like me often doing that, you know? So I guess maybe when I was younger, I really didn’t think about it as much as it I see the impact that it is now.

On how impactful it is on us now, like making this space available for everyone. But I did feel like it was working when I was younger because it’s what’s my backyard. And so, yeah. I thought it was. Oh, yeah. Yeah. And so, but I didn’t see people who look like me or, and now it’s like, I don’t see, you know, I’m not, I don’t see brands that are for outdoor people who look like me or finding and finding plus size gears also can be a challenge. And so.

Amy Bushatz: Yeah. Because, you know, for people who haven’t followed your… account, you are not just a Black woman, you’re also a plus sized Black woman, a bigger bodied Black woman. Yeah. And,

Brandi Small: Yes exactly. And so sometimes it’s not so welcoming in that regards

Amy Bushatz: Mm hmm.

Brandi Small: When I’m in outdoor spaces.

Amy Bushatz: Yeah. Do you feel like it’s become, you know, you said you never questioned that because it was in your backyard. Do you feel like it’s become less welcoming over, over time? Is that what your experience is?

Brandi Small: Yeah, I think I realize it more now that it’s less welcoming from when you’re like a kid and a teenager,

You understand it now as an adult better. And cause like a lot of the times when I go to like national parks, I’m met with the attitude of like, they’re expecting me not to know how to be in this space and to be disrespectful to this space.

Like some of the park rangers will like remind me about quiet time, even before they say hello. Like sometimes when we drive up, they’re like, you know, quiet time is this time or, they’re like, I know this is your first time here, so let me tell you how it works. So, Park Rangers, yeah, I was like, well, that can really put a damper on your four days that you’re going to be sitting here, assuming that I’ve never been in this space, and you need to kind of micromanage how we’re going to act because we’re not going to act appropriate in this space.

Amy Bushatz: Yeah. What do you say to that? When they say that? what is your response to that?

Brandi Small: Well the last time this happened, I was like, you know, we’re avid campers and hikers, and if we need anything, we’ll let you know. Thank you. That’s about it. Because, like… If we need something, we’ll ask. we’re avid hikers and camper and so like, I don’t really need your assistance right now. Oh, and I remember one time he told me like, you know, you can’t, park, make sure your car is not touching the part that says like protected in, you know, how it says rehab like that’s self explanatory I also can read.

Amy Bushatz: Yeah. Yeah.

Brandi Small: Yeah. so and this happened recently

Amy Bushatz: It’s like an assumption of, Just, like, inexperience, and that despite the, like, regardless of inexperience, okay, a assumption of disrespect from you to the space.

Brandi Small: Absolutely, it’s already met with that as soon as we pull up and it’s a lot of us, you know we come about two cars. It’s probably about 15 of us. And this is what we do every summer. My children are very experienced campers and hikers and they know what to do. So when you’re met with that immediately, not like literally not even a greeting, not even a hello, Hey, hidey-ho campers.

Nothing just straight into like your music can’t be loud. And I’m like, we’re not even unpacked. We just literally pulled up. So yeah, it’s the assumption that we’re not going to respect the space that we’re in and we’ve never been here. So they have to tell us how we’re supposed to act in this space, that’s really not for us. But since you’re here, let me tell you how to

Amy Bushatz: Yeah yeah, and it’s not going to shock you at all when I tell you that’s never happened to me, you know?

Brandi Small: Right, exactly. And it’s funny because my friend that I go with is she’s white and she also gets so offended because sometimes she’ll come like before us and she will see how the ranger’s rushing over and she’s like trying to step there too like get to me at the same time because it’s what are you about to say to my friends that I camp put all the time so it’s just yeah she’s never had that experience ever no one has ever questioned her like yourself no one’s gonna do that you belong there it’s your space.

Amy Bushatz: Yeah. Yeah. that’s extremely discouraging. So what do you tell, talk to your audience about dealing with this and what do you tell them if so?

Brandi Small: I think I have mentioned this and again, I just reconfirm for them that you do belong in this space and, you know, do a little research before you go somewhere so that you’re knowledgeable so that it, you don’t feel like they’re giving you, sometimes you get too much information and it’s like, relax.

And if you just go with an air of like, I know what I’m doing, I got this and if I need help. Ask for help. I’ll ask you. You don’t have to come volunteer because you’re only volunteering to me, you know, offering me assistance of all the other campers. I’m the only one that you’re running to. So I just encourage them to just, you know, go have fun. And regardless of that experience, just remember that you belong here and this outdoor space is for everyone. So, you know, regardless of how they try to make you feel, because sometimes I feel like they just don’t want us to come back. So it’s like, no, you’re not going to make me feel so bad that I don’t come back. And I am going to come back and I’m going to tell all my friends.

Amy Bushatz: Yeah. Do you feel like the solution or work on this, other than talking about it, is to continue to go that is the work?

Brandi Small: Yeah, continue to go for sure, because if you’re not out there, no one’s going to see you and then they’re not going to go and so you want everyone to go and you want everyone to feel included. So you two have to keep going.

Amy Bushatz: Yeah.

Brandi Small: And you know, be prepared for the, you know, the over explaining of how to be a camper or hiker.

Amy Bushatz: Yeah. How does having a bigger body factor into this experience? Is this purely because of your race, or is it a double whammy because of the bigger body? And I guess the reason I’m asking that is, is this something that you find other people with bigger bodies regardless of the color of their skin, also experience?

Brandi Small: Oh, absolutely. And that I put my personal experience is that yes, I think it’s both for me. And then I think it’s just sometimes it’s because you’re a bigger body. And, you know, on some trails, I’ll be honest, there are some trails that I am, like, really big on, and it’s fine, and it’s okay, and I’m gonna squeeze by, I know how to maneuver my body, so give me the opportunity to do that before you’re like, whoa, like, oh my gosh, freak out, panic, and it’s like, no, I know how to move my body in a way that we both can get past on this trail, so I do think it’s double edged for me, but I also think for other people, it’s plus size.

Amy Bushatz: Yeah. and the reason, I mean, the panic there is that somebody might look at you and think, oh, she, that make a lot of assumptions about your abilities based off the size of your body.

Brandi Small: Right and a lot of people think when you’re hiking, it’s for health reasons and not like just because it’s for a lifestyle. Like I’m doing this because I love it and I enjoy it. And I’m not out here to lose weight or anything like that. Cause I’ve had people clap at me and it’s the most frustrating thing ever. Like they’re like clapping cause I’m almost to the top and I’m

Amy Bushatz: I’m just, like, astonished. My mouth, and people can’t see my mouth hanging open and all, like, the faces I’m making right now. I am abs, I am just, I am, I don’t even have words. I am astonished.

Brandi Small: Yeah like they’re clapping. And I’m like, all right. And I always say, are you clapping for everyone or just me? Cause we’re all on this trail. it’s, if it’s seven miles, it’s seven miles. I don’t need an applause, but they think like I’m out here trying to lose weight and they’re encouraging me, but yet it doesn’t, it’s not encouraging, actually. A good, simple, good morning. You’re going to enjoy the top is enough. Like, you know what I mean? that’s enough, but yeah, this just recently happened to at another trail when I was like, I don’t need an applause. I’m here hiking like you,

Amy Bushatz: I don’t even know what to say right now let’s have a standing ovation for all of us, you know,

Brandi Small: Yeah. They would be like, Oh, you made me great. But me, it’s more like, Oh, you made it. Oh, you’re making, you’re making it. You’re pushing through. I’m like, we’re all out of breath. It’s a hike. The takeaway should be like, we’re all out here on the trail trying to enjoy a view and clap for everyone. Don’t just clap for me because you think I’m out here for health reasons when I’m doing it. It’s a lifestyle. It’s what I actually do a lot. So, yes,

Amy Bushatz: Yeah so when you talk about, you know, this is how you, what you’ve experienced in real life, like on the trail in person. Social media is a whole different ball game. When it comes to people feeling like they can have something to say about what you’re doing. So I’m wondering when you share this representation on social media, which you said is something that you really enjoy doing and feel like is a real calling, do you find barriers or pushback there? Like are people, are people mean on social media about this?

Brandi Small: Actually, actually, no, they’re so supportive on, social media. And, yeah, it’s just such a great community. I appreciate the community that follows me. They’re very, encouraging and I’m also encouraging to them. Cause a few people have started paddle boarding and doing other things and people are just going outside to play.

So like, it’s been really great to be in that space where I’m learning and I’m able to help someone else because, you know, people ask me things and so. I’m able to direct them in a certain way, just for like even clothing, you know, where did you get those pants or, you know, those shoes, like how did those shoes work for you? And, you know, because it, yeah, my online community has been amazing. I will say that it’s better than in the real life on the trail.

Amy Bushatz: Yeah, Yeah, do you get those questions on the trail? Like, do you see other people out there who are bigger bodied, who are looking for this kind of thing, and do they, do you ever interact on the trail with people wanting, having those kinds of questions?

Brandi Small: You know, actually, no, I haven’t been on the trail- one time actually, one time I was on a group hike and we exchanged information on some wind breakers, but like, that’s it. not really. I really don’t see a lot of people like on the trails that I’m on that look like me, that are plus size. I don’t really see a lot of people on the trail like that.

Amy Bushatz: Yeah. Is it the clapping that’s keeping plus sized men and women from the trail? Like, that attitude?

Brandi Small: Maybe honestly, cause if someone claps for you, like, and they’re not clapping for everyone, it seems like they’re clapping is not, it’s not as genuine as like, oh, you made it to the top, good job, everyone made it. It’s more like, uh, it’s offensive to me, I think it is.

Amy Bushatz: It’s patronizing – yeah it’s offensive to me, too, and I’m not you, and I’m still astonished.

Brandi Small: And also sometimes for plus size people, like when they go with a group of people, I think it’s that fear of being left behind at the bottom of the trail while everyone else is like speed walking. That’s why I’m a really big advocate of hike your own hike, hike your own pace. Because we are going to do, we’re all going to do seven miles. If it takes you two hours or it takes somebody else an hour, we’re all going to get there. We’re all going to, and our experience on the trail will be different because of how we internalize it and what we need at that moment while we’re on the trail, but we’re all going to get there. So I always tell everybody, do your own hike, like, and then try to pick people that aren’t going to leave you if you don’t want to be left, you know, try to get with people who, who want to go the same pace as you do. And if you end up in a group that’s really fast or something like that, again, it’s your hike, take your time and enjoy it.

Amy Bushatz: Yeah. Yeah.

Brandi Small: And if you don’t make it to the top, there’s next time.

Amy Bushatz: Yeah. Yeah. and I think that’s, that’s a really good advice for everybody, whether they are bigger bodied or not. That you can’t go out there and do something on somebody else’s schedule because it will not be, not be enjoyable. You know, my, the friends, I, hike and run with are, we do that because we’re the same pace, you know, and I know that we’re all going to get there at about the same amount of time.

And if one of us is having a bad day, we all slow down for that person because it goes the other way too, you know, or more often than not, what is said is, Amy, eat a snack. Like, I am the problem. I’ll be honest. Yeah, my

Brandi Small: Oh,it’s important.

Amy Bushatz: Yeah my low blood sugar is the problem. In fact, I was, I had a, race this morning, a running race, trail race, okay? And I was going my own pace and that resulted in me running this trail race by myself and that was okay. And I knew, my attitude started to go downhill, at some point I started getting really angry at something that was not, that was stupid, you know, like I wasn’t actually angry at it, but I’ve done this enough that I have the presence of mind to be like, you know what you need right now? A snack.

Brandi Small: A snack. So you get a little hangry, blood sugar starts dropping. Yeah. No, I get that. I get that. And that’s, maybe you needed that a long time too.

Amy Bushatz: Yeah maybe I did. Maybe I did. Towards the end there, I was listening to a sad pod, a podcast that ended up being sad and I don’t recommend that, but yes,

Brandi Small: Right.

Amy Bushatz: Yeah but, you know, to, to your point, if you can find community with people who are your pace and have your goals, whether they look like you or not, you will find a way to be supported and have people who are cheering for you at the top because they love you, not because they’re patronizing.

Brandi Small: Exactly. Exactly. Yeah. No, no. Find your, find your people. I think it’s so important to like find your community that’s going to be supportive of like what you’re doing and who are going to equally go out and enjoy it. Like me, I don’t mind being left by the speed hikers. Not at all. It gives me more time to reflect, catch my breath when I need to, and keep it pushing. I’ll see you at the top.

Amy Bushatz: Yeah. yeah. Absolutely. Absolutely. So, Can you give us a couple of ways, if you wouldn’t mind, for anyone, regardless of body shape, skin color, whatever, what folks can do to help with this representation outside to, to help address some of these attitudes that you’ve seen and help spread your message that this is for everyone, regardless of who they are, where they come from, how they look. What can folks do?

Brandi Small: Okay, so let’s say number one. Go outside. go out scared. Go out unsure. Go out with a little bit of information. Just get outside. Like, just go play outside as often as you can. Two, invite your friends to try new things with you because you’ll be amazed at who’s willing to go out and just try something new and then, you know, maybe the first thing doesn’t catch.

Maybe the second thing does. Three let’s see, follow an outdoorsy person on social media that does not look you.

Amy Bushatz: Mm. Mm hmm. Mm hmm. Mm hmm.

Brandi Small: Because you can learn something new and you can be helpful to someone else. And if you’re like connected to a brand or a platform, or you have some type of say in representation, push for variety, you know, be intentional when given opportunities of people of every shape and every color. And just be intentional if you know, have the opportunity to be connected with a brand or a platform or something like that.

Amy Bushatz: Yeah. Yeah.

Brandi Small: I think that’s it.

Amy Bushatz: Yeah. Those are such, I love them that because those are such simple things that people don’t, people may or may not do, but they don’t do through the lens of this, you know? And some of this is just taking that little bit of an extra step to question what’s going on to say, you know, who else can I invite on this? What can we do that’s new today? Who else can I follow? It’s just like this tiny little step outside of your normal Everyday bubble to increase the bubble to be everybody.

Brandi Small: Yeah, it’s just, follow somebody that don’t look like you. Get outside. Do it scared. I mean, that’s my whole thing. I always tell my little nieces, like, do it afraid. You still have to try it. Like, you have to try it at least once. Get on a trail. Pick a trail close to your house. Or pick a paddleboard in the lake. pick something close to you that easy to do the first time around.

Amy Bushatz: Yeah. Yeah And like you said if it’s not for you, you don’t have to do it again, you know?

Brandi Small: What could it hurt?

Amy Bushatz: Yeah, you get, you can try it today and then say, like, this isn’t for me. One of the best pieces of advice I hang on to, I had someone on this podcast in the very, very beginning in 2020, and she runs an organization, that does sort of leadership training for women of color, but in an outdoor, outdoors environment. And she suggested that, you know, you don’t have to like everything that you do outside. And if you do something once and you don’t like it, you don’t, there’s no law that says you have to do it again. That’s cool. So.

Brandi Small: Yeah, exactly. Just to say you did it, you tried it.

Amy Bushatz: Yeah but when you, yeah, but when you try something new outside, it grows who you are and makes you better able to tackle new things all the time, which is, what she was, Nailah Blades is her name is what, you know, what was, sort of the point of that, but yeah, so just kind of expanding your personal human bubble, but also your personal, try it bubble and get just getting out there, you know,

Brandi Small: I agree. I like that.

Amy Bushatz: So okay. we close out our episodes, imagining ourselves with our guest in their favorite outdoor moment. So like one of those magical trail moments or paddleboard, any moment that you just really love to think about something that you go back to, maybe you close your eyes and that’s what you see. So I’m wondering if you have such a moment and if you could describe it for us.

Brandi Small: Yes. I always go back to. Like I said, we, uh, camp every year in Kings Canyon. I don’t know if you’ve ever been down there, but you get down there and you’re about, about a 15 minute drive from Muir Rock. And at that rock, you can jump off into the river. And this particular year that I always go back to is when my son invited, like, about four or five of his friends who had never been camping before, ever, and We went down there to get up on the rock to have lunch and to like jump off and everyone’s jumping off and everyone’s jumping off, and so like all my kids are down at the bottom and I just remember his friends being so excited but like really scared to jump off because it’s something they’d never done and mind you it was like their first time camping with bears, like real bears. So, so like the fear factor of like, Oh, another thing that’s about to happen. So as you know, so we’re like, tell me, no, you can do it. You can do it. And all my kids are at the bottom waiting for them all to jump in. And so they all jump in and the water is very cold, as you know, like freezing cold.

It’s the river snow is melting, it’s cold. And so they’re all jumping in one after another. And it was just so refreshing to see these young boys just jump in with so much confidence, like they belong there. And no one was saying, can you swim? and are you going to be okay? And do you need me to hold your hand while you do it? So I always like to think like as welcoming as like everybody that was down there as they were jumping in, it just reminds me of always to jump in. And then to be welcoming and circle it back to make sure that I’m including everyone in spaces that I love.

Amy Bushatz: Brandi that’s beautiful. Thank you so much for joining us on Humans Outside today. I’ve sure appreciated your time. Thank you.

Brandi Small: Thank you so much. This was so much fun.

Amy Bushatz: That’s a wrap on this episode of Humans Outside. But hey, I need your help. Enjoy this show? Leave a five star rating or review or both wherever you get your podcasts. It makes me feel good, but it also helps others find the show too. Now, go get outside. Until next time, we’ll see you out there.

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