Outside Voices w/ Sarah Shimazaki
As we dig out from Thanksgiving week snowstorm in the rocky mountains. This is go west young. PODCAST your show about America's parks and public lands. I'm Aaron Weiss at the Center for Western priorities keeping warm this week in the shadow auto of red rocks. We're changing this week with the conversation with another podcast. That's all about the outdoors. We'll talk to host Sarah Shimazaki about Herschel outside voices. This is and why it's so important to elevate everyone stories about their connection to nature. But first we've got a quick news update. The Interior Department is ignoring a judge's order that restored the twenty fifteen plan to protect the sage grouse from the impacts of oil and gas leasing. We talked about that ruling last month. Here with NATO culver from the Audubon society even those old protections are now supposed to be in place more than one hundred thousand acres of Sage grouse habitat are still available billable for leasing right now in Wyoming Utah and Colorado and the Bureau of Land Management is planning to auction off more leases in Wyoming grouse habitat next month as NATO put it this week in an interview with C. Q.. Roll call concerning doesn't even begin to convey where we are damn the torpedoes and the sage grouse speaking of the Bureau of Land Management Acting Head William Perry pennsly- wrote an OP. Ed In the Las Vegas Review Journal saying that Bill Law Enforcement Agents would show oh quote deference to local sheriff's now. We haven't talked about extremism much on this podcast but back before this podcast existed. The Center for Western priorities did a lot of work laying out the connections between a handful of politicians in the west and extremists like cliven Ammon Bundy one of the core tenets. It's of these extremists. Is this bizarre notion that local sheriff's are the ultimate law enforcement authority and that federal agents are subservient to them the extremists call these folks constitutional sheriff's which is funny because the word. Sheriff isn't even mentioned once in the constitution. William Perry penalty is of course source of this same overall world. He has previously called for the disposal of National Public. Land's we've talked about that a lot here but for penalty to give such a full full throated endorsement to militia groups to sovereign citizen conspiracies. In the like that's taking things to new level. The public land's extremists had had been pretty quiet over the last couple years. After the takeover of the Malheur Wildlife Refuge and the trials that resulted in Ammon Bundy's acquittal but a number of other convictions. Fictions it is now clear that these folks are back. And they are feeling emboldened because people like William Perry pennsly- are giving them the green light from the highest levels of government. One of the mail your militants can Mendon Bach announced this week that he is running for Congress in Oregon to represent the district that includes the wildlife refuge. He tried to take over M.. Bundy this month was making rumblings about another standoff. This time in Idaho but he backed down. I don't know where all of this it goes. Next it's something that we're going to be keeping a very close eye on in twenty twenty but having William Perry Pedley give credence to their bizarre constitutional interpretations is at the very least a troubling sign of things to come our guest. This week is the host and producer of the outside voices. PODCAST A new show. That's all about celebrating and sharing the stories of people who don't always see themselves reflected in the usual narratives about the great outdoors. Where's Sarah Shimazaki is a public land's advocate and storyteller based in Oakland California? Sarah Welcome to the podcast ankle. Yeah thanks semester. Having Me Erin so I'm glad we finally got you here. We've been going back and forth here for a couple of months trying to get schedules lined up. But I'm glad let it worked. Take me back now several months. Then what was the impetus for the podcast rid of this idea. Come from yeah definitely so I think thank you know. There's that saying that. If you're not seeing something out in the world then you should create yourself so you know really. The I grew up hiking. I grew up gardening. I grew up spending my time outside but I never really considered myself outdoorsy because in You know in the media and gear catalogs just in sort of like the mainstream depiction of WHO's an outdoorsy person a WHO's you know an environmentalist. I didn't really see myself reflected in those images I mostly saw I really honestly mostly saw white folks. I saw a lot of male identified. Folks I saw I thought that to be an outdoorsy person. I I had to scale a mountain. Where really expensive gear I had to wear flannel? And all these things. And so for the longest time I I didn't consider myself an outdoorsy person. I didn't really think that that's somewhere I belong and so then over over really the last few years. I've you've met other folks who look like me other people of Color People really just Reclaiming their space outdoors and saying like. Hey we we belong here and also our stories aren't new like we've we're all as human beings connected to nature and our stories deserve to be told and so so. I was starting to see a lot of that happening on instagram. A lot of platforms started. Cropping up you know. Organization centered around Latino Voices in the outdoors black experiences in the outdoors and so we started thinking about. How well you know there? There isn't really like a dedicated podcast for this It just yet. And there's some podcast episodes here and there sprinkled in other podcasts. Where they talk about diversity in the in the outdoors but there really wasn't just like a dedicated platform for people who consider themselves underrepresented in the outdoors to share their stories simply because they deserve to be told and and so we thought? Okay like what can we do to make this happen. So that's where you came from year four episodes in right now give us a overview of off the kinds of stories that you've you've told so far and and what you're looking for what you think makes for a good episode of outside voices Yeah so we've launched four episodes as far as you said. We're kind of on a monthly schedule right now and really I think the the thesis I guess you could say for the podcast that I've Sort of landed on and have been checking for for future. Stories is just really Our relationships to nature that have just always been there and that trace back to our earliest ancestors so it's actually not necessarily surly even though there are really amazing Athletes of color out there scaling mountains and really breaking records and doing amazing things in in a different recreational sports. It's not necessarily centred around stories like I'm although that can be included as well it sort of just going back to our first episode assode. We talked about if featured around a Latina surfer and she talks a lot about how her mom on her Latinas. Gina side of the family really influenced her connection to nature because she ground dead to my lesson or grounded the thirty s for for Making tacos in their house and just all these ways that her mom brought the outdoors into the kitchen and also the ways is that her grandmother was really very sustainable in the ways that she saved water. And you know one California is an drought Will listen to the later. But I'm just the ways that just to be economical and to be resourceful. She was just inherently very much an environmentalist mental est though she might not think of herself as one We also actually did a whole episode on Japanese incarceration during World War Two and that took us to manner which is one of the at low the concentration camps that Japanese were sent to during World War Two you and really. I wanted the focus there to be on the gardens dot they planted at manner and other concentration camps too so really he just The ways in which they connected to nature and it was really a way of reasserting. Their culture We also have an an episode. I really love this conference called. PGM Wine it's a conference for people of Color or people of the global majority which is a term that we like to to us. That's more empowering for folks who don't like using the word minority to describe ourselves because the reality is that people of the global majority we do make up the a majority of people if you look at just the globe to the congest Yeah so so when we were at. PG One this past last year. I recorded some just really amazing clips and music and interviews. That was really all about healing. Our relationship to the earth and to ourselves with each other and our latest episode featured a climber outdoor leader named Brittany Levitt and. She talks a lot about how she finds her own black joy and nature. She talks about her experience. Being transracial ends racial adoptee which means someone who was adopted by parents that are a different race than she was and she also talks about just navigating navigating through grief and using being able to heal and nature really so just the healing power of being in nature being outside so that literally done so far have let. Let's start there. Well let's start with with Brittany's episode because I think this this is interesting when when she talks about something we have heard many times black. People don't swim. This notion that that black communities are not around around water and there are obviously historic racial prejudice reasons for for that notion to exist assist. But I think it's really interesting that that something that she chose to talk about. So let's stop for a minute end and listen to Brittany here at black people. Nature is within a But water we have a deep connection with water but society has put in from historical record has put this notion of fear of water to but water is something that we have you to heal and to connect Enzo says holds the idea idea that black people don't swim they back from generations from storytelling from family experiences to just history but we've always been connected to the water We've always been connected to the trees. Now I talk about the history of I think the key thing is to for people to realize that history the nature go hand in hand and being able to be part of a group that's our mission is to just celebrate and inspire what we do in the outdoors. We have always been connected to the stars to leave to earn the dirt but you know walks of life. We are hikers bikers. Everyone from Harriet. Ah Man to Benjamin Baker to Matthew Hansen. It's not something that is quote unquote a white person thing because more unlikely we probably did at birth but recognize or so Sarah is that is that what when we hear people talk about reclaiming claiming history. Britain's getting up there Yeah definitely because I think the narrative when people do start to Say things like yeah you know we do need to diversify the outdoors and we need to diversify the conservation movement. There's sort of this This phrase that gets attached to that which is like it's it's because they're not they don't care about public lands. It's because they're not outside. You know black. People don't camp or people of Color don't like hiking I I think that there's there's You know an and like you said and as Britney saying there are there are very real Reasons historical reasons reasons why that is so that those folks have been excluded and erased from those conversations and those kinds of activities. Just take swimming for example you know just just the fact that during Jim Crow Swimming a black people weren't allowed to go into swimming pools right and so they never learned to swim And but then if you go way way back and You know to our ancestors and really. Actually this shows up in Our first I episode because Libya the surfer she talks about the history of Surfer of surfing. Sorry she talks about the history of of surfing and she sort of goes into different places around. The world were indigenous communities were connected to water and she talks about how They sort of had like the beginnings of surfing In West Africa actually and that that is a story that when she shares it with her students which is Our students are mostly youth youth of color but especially her black students. She sees them light up and and she's able to like communicate to them. Ya'll your ancestors were swimming. They were surfing. They had really deep knowledge about the tides and just the the way that they were in tune with the ocean and that is a really powerful thing that she's able to The story that she's able to share with their students to say like we've been outside. You know this is. This is not just about you Reclaiming your relationship to nature but reclaiming that story and that history will. Let's listen to something else from from that clip with with Olivia as well and I love this story because it's so makes the point that conservation as something that white communities love to point to have look how l.. Well we're doing. Look what we're doing here and it's something very conscious and virtue signaling if you'd like to to use that that word hand and Libya's point here is that in so many communities of color conservation is just part of the ethos and the ethic and she. She tells this this wonderful story about about her grandma and so take a listen. I remember there is an instance where there was a drought out in California and my grandma was watching the news and they're saying there's a drought and everyone needs to do better lowering the amount of water that they use in their house and my grandma started laughing and I said why are you laughing. She goes because I've been conserving water in my house. For fifty the years she was telling me that with her laundry she takes the hose out and she puts the gray water into a bucket and she takes that water from the laundry. She makes her own soap. She makes her own biodegradable soap. Because it's more economically feasible than buying Kamanga detergent at the store and she uses the same container to make the soap. She makes sure that the sofas safe for all her plants to grow so so she washes her closing laundry puts the gray water into a bucket takes. The bucket puts it out into her garden and uses the same water that she washes her clothes without in the garden. She said she's been doing that since she moved to California. I said grandma. Then you're amazing like this is amazing that you've been doing this for this long. She goes via its time. Everyone starts listening to me and catches up all right. So we're all GONNA listen to Olivia's grandmother and I think it probably all of our grandmothers because whether you grew up in a water doubt situation or your grandmother grew up cooking cooking meals on the cheap deep in the depression. There are so many things that I think we may have lost track of over the years that we can learn from and this notion Shen of rediscovering or discovering conservation is is released since oral lesson that we've forgotten about history Definitely not yeah and I think that you know. It's been very hyper capitalized. or it's just. The Green Movement is actually elite. Just now perhaps about like buying buying things you know so we're not consuming. Things is conservation to right right. Yeah exactly but I think there's this whole like Kind of sustainable movement. You know you buy this toothbrush instead of this wine. And you don't make sure that you buy these reusable bags and reasonable tupperware's and what not and And I think that then exactly like I think about my grandma I think about my mom and just growing up and opening the fridge and not knowing like which what holds what because because she reused so many a peanut butter jar carrying like orange juice or or something that she made Fresh squeezed orange juice into this reused peanut butter jar and You know you open like a thing. A tub of butter but it's actually not butter right and she used it for something else and so there are just all these ways that That my mom and my grandma and exactly as you're saying other people's Grandma's has just been doing that like they've I've been sustainable because it's a matter of just like being resourceful and also being economical and using what you already have so. I think that it's just rather than saying like to be sustainable. You have to buy these things and you have to do it this way. It's like Whoa. How are they doing it before right like way way back? 'cause there's knowledge edge that we've forgotten all right sticking with the grandmothers theme. I WANNA jump to to episode three. which is about gardening inside aside American concentration camps and detention centers during World War Two? And you started that episode on a on a personal note talking about your own heritage rated as an American of Japanese descent although your your extended family moved to the US after after World War Two by a couple of decades gates but you still feel a connection with with the stories in that episode. Yeah yeah definitely I think it's just that reminder that this this happened not long not that long ago and that if I did live here in America during that time this very well could have been my story story. It's also there's so many parallels with what's happening today down at the border and so it's just it's a connection. I have as a person with Japanese his ancestry. But it's also a story that I think we all should be remembering and listening to so that it doesn't happen again all right. Let's take a listen. Who is this that we're going to be hearing from In this clip this is sue. Yes this is actually sue. Can you tell me so. She is actually a pretty deep prominent figure and we talk about her a little bit more in the episode but she's talking about the gardens at manner she was incarcerated they are Manzana are are but then several decades later. She helped to found the man's on our committee which is a group of activists who wanted to make sure to preserve this history and pass on what happened to to everyone else in the US because the governments were sort of shut shushing what had happened during World War Two to the Japanese art. Let's take listen. And their people also built gardens in front of their unit. Are they planted Flower our they had vegetable gardens and it was a real attempt to beautify their surrounding and I think it really helped the morale whoa people something as seemingly simple as a garden have the ability to uplift spirits and forge some semblance of home amidst prison like conditions. These tangible symbols bowls of hope and resilience helped the Japanese survive incarceration but perhaps more than anything beyond providing aesthetics in a bleak landscape away to pass the time and shade paid in a hot desert. The essence of the Japanese gardens at Mandar was that of cultural identity. The gardens were away. Ah for imprisoned Japanese many of whom were former landscapers and farmers to reclaim their power space and freedom for many. It was an act of resistance and defiance literally taking up space and rejecting their situation as it was a way to heal honor their traditions and modestly but boldly assert their cultural identity in spite of persecution and forced Americanization. It was their way of saying we did this. And this is who we are so I love that clip. Because it's so sets up the last bit we have to talk about which is The PGM one episode and Indigenous People obviously the original American conservationists whose whose identities and stories have been so consistently erased or downplayed or ignored in that. That's something obviously. We've talked a whole lot about on this podcast. Particularly as it pertains to say coal mining and the the nuclear legacy on the Navajo nation. What did you learn when you went to? PGM One what did you take out of out of that. That experience experience. Yeah I took a lot out of it really and I think that just in relation nations to this clip. I think that when we think about any time we're talking about land conservation. We're talking about public land's and any time that we're really just talking about our relationship to the earth we need to be including and not just including but centering turing and amplifying and making sure that indigenous voices are just really the ones that are at the center. Uh of the conversation. It's it's not just about like. Oh Yeah we'll bring them in the room share. It's no like these are folks who have they have the connection to the land. That is still there that has not been severed to this land. Despite centuries of genocide and colonization like they're still here today and there's so much wisdom that we should learn from an listen from and in order to get in order to cultivate a better relationship shipped the land. which is something? All of us need to do to help to Make sure that we can sustain our Our life on this land. I I think that it's all about censoring indigenous voices in that journey. It's they don't exist separate from each other. Did the my hearing. The inclusion is not enough in and of itself that there has to be more than just that Yes definitely 'cause inclusion and. I'm sure you know this search but I think a lot of folks talk about inclusion. But they're not actually talking about sharing power and sharing whose voices are centered. It's just kind like yeah. Let's bring them in the room. Let's put them at the table but do they actually have power to make decisions that for the last couple of centuries have been made by the white folks or it's at this This clip up. Who are we going to hear from? Yes so this is a A genie APPA she is she. Works Works for Utah's enabling and so the folks who have been very prominent on the Movement to protect bears ears all right. Let's take a listen. To his journey. For us is indigenous people we are intrinsically tied to the land so our cultures and our people our languages are songs and ceremonies have evolved with the different landscapes that were related to and because of that as we enter into the work of environmental justice or land protection or advocating for quote unquote public lands. It inherently carries with that value of protecting and advocating for the culture of your people and and For the people from those lands as well not just the lands themselves they are not in isolation from us as humans and and we are not in isolation from our mother so I love that especially as the host of a public land's podcast of a reminder her she puts quote Unquote Public Lands In there's there's reminded that even the notion of public lands is a political construct that we're operating from here in this country As a result of colonization and our current Political System but at the end of the a day You know indigenous lands predate public lands and this whole notion of public is is only one that we have created over the last several hundred years. What what do you think the listeners of this podcast? Who Obviously we're a pretty policy focused? podcast what do they need to take away from. Stories like Avantis I think that any time there is is a decision to be made any time. There's like a focus group or you need people to speak on an issue. I going back to what we were talking about. That inclusion is not enough. It's it can't be that it's just you know the policy makers who perhaps are non-indigenous primarily are in a room making big decisions and brainstorming. How a campaign is going to go? How they're going to move forward on a policy decision region and then they say oh and we should make sure right that we include indigenous voices and sort of check a box to make sure that that Sort of that. That happens that that strengthens their argument because they have the support of the indigenous communities it should rather be that they're listening to Indigenous indigenous leaders of those communities who have been there and are speaking out About what's happening in their on their lands in their community and and really just like taking their lead And just seeing like if there is like first step if there is a role for these For folks to to play and taking taking the direction from indigenous folks to To decide for themselves what's best for for What's happening on their lands? It's about who who the leaders truly are. I think yeah I. I think that's something. We all need to need to focus on Sarah. What other stories are you looking to tell down the road? Now that you your four episodes in Kinda gotTa groove going what are you what are looking to tell. Who are you looking to hear from? Yeah so we. We do have a couple episodes currently in production I really adjust. It's really about just making sure that were capturing a lot of different voices. There's just so much there's so many things to you unpack just within this thesis of like just our relationship to nature that can go so many ways We're going to have an episode soon on someone who's who's very vocal about disability and the outdoors and we're also gonNA talk about We're also GONNA talk more about this Sousse indigenous connection and how it relates to quote unquote. Yeah Public Lands Because I think that we had Johnny speak in this episode and it was really. He is really a wonderful interview. I had with her. But I really want to dedicate a full episode to Indigenous voices. So that's something that I'm really looking forward to and and Yeah I think also at the same time in the New Year we actually want to have more episodes is more often so right now. We're doing monthly. And the they're pretty like heavily produced episodes that go out every month interview. Someone and then we sort of you know cut And paste it into this story and have narration and all that but I also WanNa just like have conversations with people much like we're having right now and that may be lighter touch on the production and so I think we're GONNA WE'RE GONNA bump up to buy weekly and have you know two episodes come out a month one. That's very much along. The lines of these last four we've had words very narration storytelling based and then having Another episode go out which is just a conversation with someone will. That's a whole lot. Look forward to then all right. Sarah Shimazaki is the host and producer of the outside voices. podcast you can find it in your favorite podcast directory. We've got a link to the show notes here. Sarah thank you so much for joining us for sharing some of the wonderful audio. You've gotten so far and I for one very much. Look forward to seeing what you bring down the road. Yeah thank you so much. Thanks thanks for having me in for amplifying these voices and everything. We're trying to do here really appreciate it. And that's it for this episode of Go West. Young podcast this week in Western history is off early for the Thanksgiving holiday if you enjoyed this episode share with a friend or leave us a rating on apple podcasts. I am sure that Sarah would appreciate it. If you did. The same aim for outside voices feel free to drop us an E mail podcast at Western priorities. Dot Org or find me on twitter. I am a Weiss. If you're on the road this holiday weekend again have a safe drive. Go enjoy some of our back episodes as long as part of the day. I'm Aaron Weiss and on behalf of the whole team at the Center for Western priorities. Have Thanksgiving yeah.