Simone Adams is the founder of Color My Outdoors, which works to change the outdoor narrative to celebrate people of color.
What’s a local sustainability initiative that you think is going well or on a successful path?
I love a good “land back” story. Last fall, the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians entered into a Tribal Forest Protection agreement with the U.S. Forest Service to integrate their cultural and traditional ecological knowledge of the land into the stewardship practices of the Nantahala and Pisgah national forests. I hope this type of co-stewardship agreement serves as a framework to sustain culturally critical resources that the state and city will follow.
What is one piece of environmental legislation or policy change that you would like to see the city of Asheville or Buncombe County make?
I’d love to see efforts that do a better job of protecting the wildlife that are continually displaced by the development in the area. This could be anything from requiring bear locks on trash cans to building wildlife crossings to conserving more undeveloped forested space. We’re fortunate to live in an area with such diverse wildlife. If we act now, we can protect both animals and humans. But if we wait, we risk having to put animals down to “protect” humans.
What is your organization’s preferred method of educating the community about its mission?
Instagram has given Color My Outdoors an active community of supporters and advocates who are highly receptive to our mission to change the outdoor narrative to celebrate people of color. But our favorite method for educating the community is oral storytelling. This is an opportunity for Black and brown outdoor enthusiasts to share their knowledge and passion in a way that is traditional to our culture and allows us to hold sovereignty over our story.
Where do you go to enjoy the outdoors?
I love a leisurely drive on the Blue Ridge Parkway. I live in Burnsville, not too far from the parkway — it’s at least an hour commute by highway to Asheville, but sometimes I make it even longer and take the parkway just for the serene views. My absolute fave thing to do is wake early, put my coffee in a thermos and stake out a spot in one of the overlooks for a sunrise picnic.