Rivers and Waterways: Poll Reveals Caring and Engagement

Written By OutdoorAfro

Published on Oct 22, 2012

Survey Confirms a Positive Relationship with Rivers and Waterways in the Outdoor Afro community

Nearly seventy Outdoor Afros from around the country were sampled in a short survey distributed via social networks that provided a snapshot of how and why people connect to our waterways.
Much of what was observed from the results confirmed what Outdoor Afro already knew – that in the Outdoor Afro community overall, there is a positive relationship and perception of our rivers and waterways. Of the sample surveyed, the vast majority were African American, female, and between the ages of 35-44.
Some key findings:

  • Participants enjoyed a wide variety of activities on the water that include being on the water, or hiking, fishing, and hunting adjacent to them
  • Respondents felt most comfortable getting out on water with friends and family over structured programs
  • The biggest identifiable barriers to getting out more was a lack of time and equipment

When asked to describe first introductions to waterways, most surveyed cited early connections to rivers and lakes with family members. And frequently, grandparents and fishing were mentioned.

Fishing with my grandfather in Kansas… I was the only girl… I loved it”

When asked about what they most valued about our rivers, many used words such as “spiritual” and “calming.”

“Waterways are beautiful. I love the wildlife on and around the water. I love the soothing power of water.”

The biggest concerns and cautions related to waterways? The vast majority mentioned pollution as a big concern, followed by the alarming number of  people who do not know how to swim and be safe in the water. And as frequently as we hear about black women having hair barriers around water, only one participant mentioned this as a barrier.

Our survey affirmed that programs have an opportunity to be most effective when they support families to lead one another to connect to waterways that do not require a lot of time. For instance, building awareness of locally accessible waterways for recreation might be one approach to expand connections. Also, find ways to raise awareness of gear rentals, so more people can try activities with minimal investment.
At Outdoor Afro, we will continue to increase the visibility and positive connections to rivers and waterways. Join us to help dispel myths, and inspire more families and communities to engage with these delicate resources — the nature they are, and all that surrounds them.
Anything surprise you about these results? Have a differing viewpoint?
This survey and blog  are sponsored by the Georgia River Network in an effort to increase relevant connections of our rivers and waterways with more communities.