On December 4, 2023 the Society of Outdoor Recreation Professionals (SORP) and Outdoor Recreation Design Lab hosted our second Inclusive Spaces Audit Workshop. Funded by a grant from Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW), the workshop focused on empowering outdoor recreation providers to make their spaces more inclusive and accessible to a broader range of users.
Hosted at Staunton State Park in Pine, Colorado, our second edition of the workshop was expanded from a half-day format to a full day to incorporate time for understanding key concepts and pre-field observations.
Participants were required to submit a short application to attend the free event, which brought over 25 outdoor professionals together for discussion, idea sharing, and observation.
Kicking the day off, facilitator Gerry Seavo James (Outdoor Recreation Design Lab/Explore Kentucky and Sierra Club Outdoors for All) covered objectives for the day and key terminology. Terminology discussed included nature-based environment, sundown towns and counties, and underrepresented/underserved populations.
Data Gathering + Field Observation Methodology / Pre-Audit Worksheet
Before heading outside for a field observation, participants discussed data important to gather for a pre-assessment of a space.
Participants next worked through the pre-audit worksheet. The worksheet worked through the different information to gather with question such as:
How your unit or organization operates: how are underrepresented people integrated across your staffing, volunteer system, board, or leadership structure?
Understanding who you serve and how they access various sites: do you understand who is currently using your space?
How your marketing and outreach efforts impact inclusivity: how underrepresented people are celebrated and represented in your digital spaces and advertisements?
Discrimination and harassment: has your organization explored the history and culture of the surrounding region and how it might affect how people perceive your space?
Led by facilitators Rachel Franchina (Executive Director of SORP) and Gerry, along with Zach Taylor, Staunton State Park Manager, the workshop participants broke into two groups for field observation.
Groups were asked to observe the park, including the Visitor Center and along the Davis Ponds trail, one of the park’s trails accessible by track-chair. During the observation, participants were guided with a worksheet to answer questions and make notes on their observations.
Upon returning to the visitor center, the two groups gathered to debrief on their observations and share which questions were the easiest to answer and which were the most difficult.
Easier elements included general assessments such as all signs were in English and the park could benefit from pictograms or signage in different languages. The park featured auditory educational resources, lots of places to rest, and accessible trails via the track-chair program. Some additional recommendations included a nature play area for children near the pond, installing accessible electric vehicle chargers, adding safe space stickers at the visitor, and more clear and accessible information for trail use geared towards all ages and abilities.
One of the hardest elements participants agreed upon was that all observations were made by recreation professionals and it would be beneficial to bring in the communities to get different perspectives and make more tangible recommendations.
Feedback + Moving Forward
Participants were encouraged to use the resources provided during the day to conduct an audit at their respective outdoor recreation spaces. Shared resources and notes are listed and accessible to all within the SORP DEIA community.
The feedback gathered would serve a dual purpose – contributing to a report for the Colorado Parks and Wildlife grant and aiding in the enhancement of the workshop for future participants.
Interested in participating in our next workshop? SORP and Outdoor Recreation Design Lab are working to plan the next iteration of the event for spring 2024, which will be hosted at a second Colorado State Park, thank you to the CPW grant. Please stay tuned for more information and our application to open.