Identity-based affinity spaces are spaces specifically created for folks who share a specific identity – such as people of color, women, or LGBTQ+ folks – to gather, express themselves authentically, and learn together.
People of color, women, LGBTQ+ folks, people with disabilities, and members of other historically underrepresented groups continue to face systemic oppression, microaggressions, bias, and other forms of oppression. Most of the time it is subtle and nuanced, and when taken as a whole, it can be exhausting.
Wilderness Awareness School, like most nature connection and skills schools in the U.S. at this time, has historically been predominantly led by white, cisgendered men, and many of the skills we teach are coded as “masculine” in dominant U.S. culture. This can create barriers to learning and expression for folks who experience oppression based on their identities.
As such, members of some historically underrepresented groups have requested to have spaces to gather together and learn and practice skills without the barriers and risks present in mixed-group settings.
The purpose of identity-based affinity spaces at Wilderness Awareness School, such as the Wild Women of Color virtual series, Wild Women of Color Weekend, and the popular Wild Women’s weekends, are to intentionally create spaces that support freedom of expression, truth-telling, and safety in showing up authentically, in service to fostering nature connection.
We have also offered affinity spaces for men, to create space for men to intentionally challenge the ways they’ve been socialized under the patriarchy and find new ways to connect with each other, a process that can ultimately support healing and liberation for people of all genders.
Gathering in affinity groups also helps people to show up authentically in mixed groups, where we can learn and grow together and help build a world free from racism, sexism, homophobia, transmisogyny, and oppression of all forms, so all people have the opportunity to thrive.