OWAA’s supporting group and national not-for-profit Outdoor Afro celebrates and inspires Black connections and leadership in nature. Its Founder and CEO, Rue Mapp, released an extension of the network’s Black joy moments in nature on Nov. 1, 2022, with her first book “Nature Swagger.” Developed with American publisher Chronicle Books, “Nature Swagger” is filled with breathtaking photography, inspiring stories, and heartfelt spotlights from Outdoor Afro volunteer leaders, prominent Black outdoor influencers, and other related organizations Mapp has collaborated with throughout her outdoor industry career and personal experiences.
“It was important to tell the story of the people and their special places that not only informed my own connection to nature,” said Mapp, “but of the many people I have had the pleasure of getting to know over the past decade. There are just so many unique ways people are getting outside and connecting to nature aside from camping and hiking.”
The awarded leader, public lands champion, and motivational speaker started Outdoor Afro as a kitchen table blog and social enterprise in 2009. She incorporated it as a 501(c)(3) organization in 2015. Outdoor Afro includes more than 100 volunteer leaders across the United States. Its participation network is more than 60,000 people who attend volunteers’ local nature-based activities in Outdoor Afro’s four regions. “Nature Swagger” continues Mapp’s community work in the outdoors.
“The book elevates the fact that being Black isn’t a singular experience – it’s reflective of region, age, personal history, and more,” Mapp said.
“I believe ‘Nature Swagger’ includes stories of individuals who anyone can relate to or who might remind us of family and friends. I want readers to be inspired and see nature from many perspectives and think broadly of what connections to the outdoors can look like for anyone.”
Mapp considers “Nature Swagger” a new narrative of Black people as strong, beautiful and free. During the pandemic, connecting to nature became a challenge. And while the media focused on peril and pain, this book became urgent for Mapp to present to the world:
“Joy and community in nature felt needed to counterbalance the constant portraits of pain in the mainstream,” said Mapp. “This is why I deeply appreciated learning that Chronicle wanted to do something highly visual. For me, it was also important that ‘Nature Swagger’ connects to all levels of literacy in order to connect with each of our stories.”