In Gratitude

Written By OutdoorAfro

Published on Nov 27, 2013

If you want to go fast, go alone

If you want to go far, go together

African proverb


On the tail of brisk autumn winds, we at Outdoor Afro welcome the holidays in the dawn of winter as a time to slow down, give thanks, and set intentions for the coming year.

I often feel so privileged to know what I am supposed to be doing on the planet, and find the daily courage to go forth and embrace it. People ask all the time, “How do you do it?” I have discovered that when you love what you do, it nourishes your very core and everything around you.
But I receive critical support from so many. Along with my three children, whose bravery is shown each time I board a plane for work, I stand on the shoulders of my parents, AC and Ella mae Levias, who showed me the value of connections to both the land and to family from a young age. While my parents are no longer living, Outdoor Afro is an enduring tribute to them, and a way of life.
I muse on the personal and professional mashup when I put the chickens to bed in my urban backyard, or as my cool-season collard greens grow from seedlings, or when my eldest son and I split and stack firewood for the season’s transition, logging it all via social media. There is no seam that separates what I do for a living, how I live, and who I am – and it is such a gift to share it all with others.


Much gratitude is owed to the Outdoor Afro Leadership Team. This baker’s dozen of amazing men and women from around the country answered the call to be leaders in nature and share a fire in their belly that connects people to nature right in their own backyard in places like Pennsylvania, Brooklyn, Chicago, Atlanta, Oakland, and more. Their leadership means thousands of people of all ages have gotten out and rediscovered a sense of connection, stewardship, and possibility in nature they can re-learn, and sustainably repeat in their own lives. We hear all the time powerful testimonies about what our outdoor experiences mean to people.  For instance, a recent participant, after an Outdoor Afro hike said, “I feel free”, which sums up an important aspiration of our work for everyone we touch.


Teresa Baker

Finally, I feel tremendously privileged to work with partners who share common goals and support our work in a variety of ways. They not only keep the lights on, but our corporate and non-profit allies are made up of folks who are like family, who share ideas, triumphs, and challenges right by our side.  We have also been blessed with several amazing individual supporters and new clients this year who facilitate opportunities to practice our craft, and expand it through a relevant lens.


Simply put, it’s been a great year.
And while we remain grounded in the present, we are also looking forward to 2014 – it’s the 5th anniversary of the blog that started it all — and a continued, colorful celebration of people and nature.
No matter how you move into our new season, I want you to know we are thankful for you in this precious community, and wish you all the best of Thanksgivings and a joyous launch of the holiday season!
Rue Mapp
Outdoor Afro Founder