Sung-Hee Chung, 58, came to the United States as a young girl after leaving South Korea with her family. One thing she remembers vividly are the beautiful glossy magazines on the tables in the doctor’s office. Around this time, she learned that there were magazines about skiing, yachting, and good housekeeping.
But it was the exterior images that caught his attention the most.
“I’ve always been drawn to magazines with the beautiful blue sky, meeting the bright white snow,” she recalls. In fact, she discovered a passion for cross-country skiing and also for sculling. But another thing she remembers about these magazines was a complete lack of representation; there was no diversity of gender, skin color or ethnicity among the people featured in these magazines.
“There, between (the blue sky and the white snow),” she said, “there was a white man on skis.” As a young woman, Chung says, she always wondered why there were no women or people of color in these brilliant images.
Representation, Chung says, is so important, especially when it comes to the outdoors. To achieve this, she created Powered Magazine, which provides access to activities for Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC), as well as a magazine in which to tell their stories of outdoor experience and fun. air.
Powered Magazine recently partnered with the Vermont Outdoor Business Alliance (VOBA) on a media project to amplify and amplify outdoor and workplace opportunities for Vermonters in BIPOC.
This summer and fall, the organizations collaborated with the Vermont State Departments of Tourism and Marketing, Forestry, Parks and Recreation, as well as several outdoor brands and other organizations on outings and multimedia stories focused on BIPOC communities in outdoor recreation, and also highlighted career opportunities in the outdoor industry in Vermont.
Outdoor spaces, gear and accessories, and instruction have been provided to BIPOC groups who enjoy e-biking, hiking, bird watching, rock climbing, biking on the Island Line rail trail in Burlington, fly fishing and sculling on the West River in Brattleboro. The brands and organizations in the collaboration included Turtle Fur, Darn Tough Vermont, Petra Cliffs Climbing Center and Mountaineering School, Local Motion, Audubon Vermont, Orvis, Concept 2, Row Brattleboro Outing Club, and local guide Robert Johnson III.
“Our common goal,” says Kelly Ault, Executive Director of VOBA, “is to advance a vision of equitable access for all to outdoor spaces and outdoor workplaces. Through excursions and instruction, interviews with outdoor professionals, and storytelling that connects people, places, products and professions, we hope to show what is possible if we work together.
On his way to one of the climbing outings, Chung got into the car with Andrea Charest, one of the owners of Petra Cliffs, who was leading and guiding the climbing event. Chung took the opportunity to ask Charest: “Have you ever imagined working in something you love, it’s your passion? Chung also reflected on that conversation with Charest: “That connection is sorely missed in our BIPOC community,” Chung says. “To pursue this passion for the people of BIPOC is more difficult.”
Some might ask, what’s so hard about it? Why not just go out? Chung points out that one of the reasons is generational trauma, which can be a big factor. For example, fear of recreation in the forest is common among black people, due to the long history of racially motivated prejudice and violence that has often occurred in remote places. There can also be a fear of water, whether related to the transport of slaves or cultural beliefs, such as water being a “stealer of souls”. These fears are the result of a long history of racism and oppression.
There are also other barriers, including access to details such as infrastructure, such as trails, equipment or transportation, as well as funding for equipment or education, and access to the skills themselves. These obstacles fuel a longstanding perception that BIPOC doesn’t belong, Chung says.
The perception piece is important, says Chung. She gives the example of white people learning to ski: They’ll rent their equipment and buy their tickets, and on the slopes, they can fall, or laugh, or be loud, and that’s okay. “It’s seen differently when it’s BIPOC,” Chung says, and it exacerbates a sense of not belonging.
Education is also a very important part of access to the outdoors for BIPOC. In many cases, for the BIPOC, she says: “You will learn a new activity in a place that you do not know.
But, she points out, “it’s fair to say that a lot of people in Vermont have at least someone they know who they identify with who does one of the things Vermont has to to offer”.
Just having the opportunity to be introduced to a new outdoor activity by a familiar person can be a challenge for BIPOC.
“It’s access,” Chung says of this barrier. “And we don’t even delve into the economics of this one. In addition, there is the economy of time, how much time we have to spend working or maintaining a household”, because, she points out, due to income disparities for many BIPOC, they work longer hours. ‘hours.
Powered Magazine started as a way to provide a platform for members who are outdoors to share their joy, says Chung, for outdoor BIPOC and those who don’t know what the outdoors is and how to connect to it.
Powered Magazine offers free lessons for BIPOC in cross-country skiing, swimming, hiking, climbing and sculling, and through grant support, provides education, equipment, facility access and instruction. For example, a class called Weekly Inclusive Water Time asks participants to start by walking in water and seeing how the water feels around their bodies, because often, Chung says, there aren’t good memories. some water. This then leads to floating, which in turn leads to taking a few hits. The grant money provides swimming gear such as swim caps to protect braids and dreadlocks, goggles, and burkini swimsuits.
“All they have to do,” Chung says, “is just show up with interest, hopefully find joy, and then at the end we have a community gathering to share our joy.”
These opportunities really address the health part of having access to outdoor activities, especially mental health, Chung says. As for physical health, “if something about physical activity hits that night light inside of you and it grows, that’s the start of your lifestyle transformation.”
She recalls two recent stories of transformed lives: A man who attended the weekly swim sessions felt more confident in the water and wanted to train more often. Using grant funds, Powered Magazine purchased a membership to the YMCA of Burlington, where he can continue swimming on his own schedule, and also explore the rest of the facility.
Similarly, a woman who took a cross-country ski lesson later bought her own skis and then called Chung for further instruction. They started skiing together almost every Saturday last winter and even completed a 25 kilometer ski.
“His skills have improved so much,” Chung says, and they plan to continue this winter.
Currently, Powered Magazine is seeking funding to produce a quarterly magazine and create a website. They are building a secure website and they are very intentional about using social media responsibly; although they have an Instagram account, posting has been suspended until this process is complete. In the meantime, as Powered Magazine continues to provide these opportunities and see lives transformed, they are collecting images and stories to share with community and school groups, and in the growing magazine.
“The goal,” Chung says, “is to have a glossy magazine to share them.”