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Here’s the Wild Idea

Rue’s Wild Idea: To start a movement that celebrates diversity, and helps gets more people outside and connected in nature.

Rue Mapp is a true force of nature. The activist, nature-lover, and mom of three founded Outdoor Afro as a blog in 2009 and has since grown it to become the nation’s leading nonprofit network that encourages African-American leadership in nature. With nearly 80 leaders in 30 states around the country, the organization has connected thousands of people to outdoor experiences, changing the conversation around who plays outside. Diversity in the outdoors is a hot topic these days, especially at the Outdoor Retailer show where we did this interview. Rue’s voice is a valued leader in the conversation.

Outdoor Afro started as something small and personal to Rue, but has grown and become incredibly influential in the outdoor arena. Rue herself has been invited to the White House to participate in the America’s Great Outdoors Conference and was part of a think tank for Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move Initiative. In 2014, she was appointed to the California State Parks Commission by California Governor Jerry Brown, and her work has been featured everywhere from the Wall Street Journal and NPR, to Sunset and Ebony Magazines.

Rue’s ability to connect and empower communities from across all cultures is inspiring and has made her a sought-after speaker. We talk about diversity in the outdoors and who is doing it well (you might be surprised), how nature doesn’t discriminate, and the power of joy, humor, and relationships in your life.

Presented by REI

Listen to this Episode if

  • You are trying to create or grow a community.
  • You want to see more diversity in the outdoors.
  • You want to know which companies are showcasing diversity well.
  • You are looking for inspiration to do something meaningful with your life.

Key Takeaways

  • 2:55 – What Outdoor Afro is, and how it started.
  • 4:20 – How Outdoor Afro is changing lives.
  • 5:50 – The story of how Rue got invited to the White House.
  • 8:50 – Rue’s perspective on inclusivity.
  • 10:55 – Rue grew up being outside.
  • 13:25 – Rue’s philosophy of “be, do, have.”
  • 17:35 – Rue’s leadership tips.
  • 18:30 – Why Rue doesn’t use the b-word “busy.”
  • 20:00 – How to use humor (and nature) to connect and enjoy each other.
  • 23:00 – Why we need to pay attention to the nuances.
  • 25:20 – What companies are doing diversity well and how brands can connect with diverse audiences.
  • 28:30 – The symbolism behind Rue’s tattoo.
  • 31:50 – What Rue’s dream party is like.
  • 33:50 – Rue’s favorite gear and books.
  • 35:50 – How Rue advises you to confront self-doubt.

Awesome book Rue recommends gifting

The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz
By the River Piedra I Sat Down and Wept by Paulo Coelho


Force of Nature Zine
Artist Loveis Wise
Jeremy Collins
Klean Kanteen
Outdoor Retailer

Connect with Rue




Wild Ideas Worth Living on Facebook
Wild Ideas Worth Living on Instagram
Wild Ideas Worth Living on Twitter