Episode 184: Spreading the Joy

Interview with Demiesha Dennis

Demiesha Dennis is an angler, mom, and community leader who is passionate about spreading the joy she’s found outdoors. Her reflections on time spent outside as an immigrant and Woman of Color provide many insights into industry gaps, misconceptions of people in the outdoors, and the privilege of recreating through hiking and fly fishing. In this episode, we hear about how Demiesha started flyfishing, what she’s teaching her daughter, what it means to her to be a woman on the water, changing the narrative through Brown Girl Outdoor World, and more! 

This is the second of six episodes hosted by Gabaccia Moreno this year as part of our She Explores host residency program.

Find the episode below, on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, or wherever you stream podcasts.

Featured in this episode: Demiesha Dennis

Hosted & Produced by Gabaccia Moreno

Editing & Additional Production Support by Gale Straub

A Production of Ravel Media

Sponsored by Subaru, Janji, & Reel Paper

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Featured in this Episode

Demiesha Dennis

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TRANSCRIPT

Note: This transcript was lightly edited and created using a transcription service. As such it may contain spelling errors.

Gabaccia Moreno – Narration:

I’m Gabaccia Moreno, and you’re listening to She Explores.

Demiesha Dennis:

There’s this whole idea nd this concept that Black people face so much struggle that we don’t have joy, but that is not the be all and end all of who we are. There’s still so much joy in the existence of being a Black woman, of being a Black person, being a Black child. There’s so much joy. In the space that we go into with Brown Girl Outdoor World, joy is what predicates how we move. Joy is why we’re together as a community. Joy is what keeps people coming back to this community when everything else in the world is topsy-turvy. And it’s not, it’s not What’s motivating you to move back a moment and find if we step back and step into the moment of joyful things, everything is shifts, everything. Even if it’s just for the moment that you’re thinking of that joyful thing, it’s a shift.

Gabaccia Moreno – Narration:

Meet Demiesha Dennis, angler, mom, and community leader who’s passionate about spreading the joy she’s found outdoors, hiking and flyfishing.

Gabaccia Moreno:

For you as a mom. What has been one impactful experience that you’ve had in sharing your love for the outdoors with your kid?

Demiesha Dennis:

Oh my gosh. Just her waking up and telling me she wants to go fishing. That is one of the most impactful things for me is that I can, I influenced that thought process that I influenced her love of the outdoors. And it’s not just because it’s something that she’s always wanted to do. It’s because I introduced that to her and she sees herself there and she sees, you know, this as a space for her. Like last week we went out, fly fishing, and this was the first time like I fully was guiding her on up and large open river. Cause we usually fish like a smaller space just because it’s more patrol, but it feels safer. And she was just reminding me because a few weeks before I had taken her out with a guarded, so he could properly show her how to cast and you know, to read water, the water and stuff. And as we were walking up the room and she’s just saying, mom, remember to walk sideways as you’re going upstream. So you’re walking into occurred and all that stuff. And it was just great to listen to her and to realize how much she’s learned from being out there and just, just watching her move on the water and trying to catch fish.

Gabaccia Moreno – Narration:

Demiesha’s daughter sees herself out there because her mom has created space for her to learn the sport of flyfishing. Her own experience was different growing up in Jamaica. She shared with me that though a common perception of the island is easy access to water, she didn’t live near the beach and fishing was more livelihood than sport.

Demiesha Dennis:

I think I held a fishing rod once when I was in Jamaica. And that’s just being on the beach and seeing, you know, men casting their lines for their living. Cause in Jamaica, you know, when you think about the Caribbean fishing, not so much of a sport as it is a way of life and people’s way of making money and feeding their families. So just one guy on the beach, I think I was really young and I just asked him too, if I could cast the rod or whatever, and he gave it to me to try it.

Gabaccia Moreno:

Oh, that’s really cool. So you were, you were curious since you were little, I guess.

Demiesha Dennis:

Oh yeah. Always been curious. I have an aunt who lives in the country and we’d go visit her and she lived closer to a river, so we would go, but we wouldn’t, we would just say like, you know, little cups or reuse plastic bottles or something, just a casual little guppies or whatever they were in the river, but I wouldn’t have called that fishing that was just kids and exploring and seeing what’s around us and what’s out there in nature.

Gabaccia Moreno:

Right? Yeah. Those, those are always fun. I also have memories like that from childhood, like picking up some scrap or driftwood and using it for my line and grabbing a piece of ham or whatever it was in my sandwich to catch it.

Demiesha Dennis:

I think we had the greatest imagination and we were just, I think so many things were so much fun because we didn’t put so much thought into it as kids. So it was just more fun to just go out and try it. And for me, when I came here to Canada and I wanted to go fishing, the first time I tried fishing was I used a stick approach. It, a piece of crochet bread and Bobby pins. Cause I like not bobbing things, things, uh, I didn’t know what, I didn’t know what to do, but it didn’t catch me any fish, but you know, it was so fun to just try it.

Gabaccia Moreno:

Oh yeah. That’s that’s fabulous. I think you could definitely catch something with a safety pin on, on a good day,

Demiesha Dennis:

Depending on how hungry those fish are. Right? Right.

Gabaccia Moreno – Narration:

This play and experimentation is such a vital part of nurturing our curiosity and relationship with nature. I asked Demisha how she graduated from that safety pin to a spin rod to flyfishing. But before I share her answer, I want to take a moment to illustrate a key difference between casting a spin and a fly rod. With a spin rod you are using the weight of a lure (normally one that simulates a little fish), only needing a single cast to get your lure out there. When we talk about fly fishing, it is actually the line that is weighted and that requires you to gain some more momentum to get your fly on the water – you can probably picture that fly fisherperson undulating their line in the air, that’s the technique to cast dry flies or flies that float. Arguably spin fishing is more beginner friendly, and fly fishing has more of a learning curve.

Demiesha Dennis:

I never grew up fly fishing. Didn’t even know sport was a thing until I moved to Canada and actually in line, I used to see it on television as a kid, but didn’t know that I had a place in that sport or that would be something that I ever did move to Canada. And I was just fishing wider than the, and then saw again, fly fishing, come up. And I’m like, maybe I should try it. And literally went out and just got a fishing. Rod went out and realized that you can’t just cast a fly rod. Like you do a spinning reel. And then actually book my first, uh, lesson with a guide, a female guide went out and we had a good time on the river to left and didn’t really feel comfortable. Came home, kept on practicing. My casting kept on trying to use the waters from my home river and just practice casting from there. So I don’t have like this grand story of how I got into fly fishing, but it was just a matter of seeing it, wanting to try it and deciding that, of course, one of the most expensive sports out there I’m going to pick it up.

Gabaccia Moreno – Narration:

I want to underline the role practice and patience play in learning how to flyfish. I was curious how Demisha’s experience learning for herself translated to teaching her daughter.

Demiesha Dennis:

It’s funny because I have some bad habits and I was trying not to give her those bad habits. So I was more concerned about her, you know, learning how to cast and, and that his wife, one of the things that I did is because why I got a guide is because I’m like that person could probably teach her better than I would, my bad habits, how to properly cast and how to, you know, read the water and all that stuff. So the challenge was for one again, gear, cause we all know fly fishing. Isn’t cheap, no matter what people say and how they try to make it seem fighting itself. It’s not a cheap sport. So getting all her equipment and putting everything together, getting her abroad and all that stuff. I think the greatest, the greatest challenge of that was a financial, the financial costs of getting into fly fishing.

Demiesha Dennis:

But otherwise she was open to the idea she wanted to learn for her. She had this, um, the first I met, took her outside to cast. We were in the field across from, from my apartment and there’s this TV show that she’d watched called Heartland. And I suppose on a ranch with horses and rivers and there’s a whole lot of fly fishing and she’s like, Oh, this is what we’re doing on TV. Now I get it. So just, you know, having her, being able to attach that to something else that she’s experienced before is really cool.

Gabaccia Moreno:

Oh, that’s lovely. Do you think, as you know, as a mom that introduce your child to fly fishing, do you have any tips for other folks out there that want to introduce their kids to it?

Demiesha Dennis:

Uh, definitely for anyone is don’t force it, take the kid out. They don’t like it don’t force them to it. They all gravitate towards it. You keep on doing your thing. They keep on seeing you. If it’s something that’s of interest to them, they’ll gravitate to it on their own. When it comes to getting the equipment on and fly fishing, if you can borrow rent, beg, however it is to get what you need without having to spend a ton of cash. Do it. I mean, there are lots of organizations out there that have, um, programs for kids to get into fly fishing. If you, yourself, as a parent, don’t have the knowledge or the know how align yourself with one of those organizations. And again, even if you don’t fish as a parent, that doesn’t mean your kid wouldn’t be interested in it. So it’s always an introduction, always getting them exposure, always letting them know that there is space and that’s worth for them. Even if you, as a parent are not involved in that sport.

Gabaccia Moreno:

I honestly see that a lot. And specifically with my partner, I’ve seen it because he didn’t grow up in a family that was outdoorsy in the sense that we think about it. And they weren’t fishermen, for example, compares to my family. So he was always curious about this stuff. And he managed to, you know, at the beach kind of like how you did, um, ask someone to teach him. And he learned fishing with a handrail. And later when we were together, I taught him how to use a spin rod. And later he decided, you know, he’s interested in fly fishing and that’s kind of how we both got started actually. But it’s interesting to look back and see that the curiosity was always there. And you just didn’t have someone to push you forward with that or to support you in pursuing that curiosity. Even for myself, like a quick example, I remember going to a, you know, like a tackle shop or something like that and seeing the little area with the, with the flies and thinking that they were so pretty. And I told my dad, I was like, Hey, what are these? Can we fish with this? And he was like, no, that’s difficult. And that was the end of the conversation. And I never thought to ask again, and I didn’t even know what fly fishing looked like at that time, but that would have been an opportunity, for example, for my dad to step out of his comfort zone and just to maybe entertain my own curiosity.

Demiesha Dennis:

Definitely. I think, I think that’s even more important for when, you know, as a parent, you’re not doing it like don’t limit your kid based on what you’re not doing and not because for now we have so much more exposure to knowledge and information than our parents did. And we have so much more exposure to, to how we can access these things. Some of our parents were so busy working three, four jobs that making sure that you were surviving, make sure that you have food and make sure that have education or the most important things. And then something like fishing or recreational activity, especially if you’re farming an immigrant experience. Like I have like that, wasn’t something that was given thought when we were kids, right? It wasn’t top of top of mind when it came for thing things for you to do it was you go to school, you get an education, you won’t get a job. If you happen to have extracurricular activities in there, then consider yourself really lucky. And if your parents are, you know, involved in these things and you become a part of that, then consider yourself double lucky

Gabaccia Moreno – Narration:

Demiesha’s right, there’s a certain level of privilege that comes with being a parent with the means, time, and knowledge to help facilitate a child’s interest in a sport like flyfishing. After the break, we’ll talk about how Demiesha’s identities have shaped her time on the water.

Demiesha Dennis:

And the fact that if you don’t show up in a two piece bikini and shorts, you’re not supposed to be fishing as a woman, right? That’s that’s the uniform. I mean, when you look on, when you look online, those accounts, when it comes to fishing and women fishing, it’s the ones that are barely dressed. That the ones that create like this whole idea of what fishing should look like for a woman. And I don’t want that to be the only image associated with it. I can show up in waiters. I can show up in my jacket. I can show up as my whole self and still be out there fishing and still be a part of what fishing looks like. I don’t want anyone to try to determine an identity for me as a person who fishes and how I should look when I show up

Gabaccia Moreno – Narration:

We’re back. Everywhere we look there are social media accounts, outdoor publications, mansplainers, you name it…telling us how we should show up as ourselves outdoors. As if there could possibly be one way to be outside, or on the water.

Gabaccia Moreno:

I want to ask you how has being a woman impacted your experience on the water and in the outdoors. And furthermore, how has being an immigrant woman impacted those experiences?

Demiesha Dennis:

Oh man, that’s a whole, whole complex question. It’s it’s been interesting. Cause I, I approach it first from the aspect of being a black woman, I approach it secondly, from the aspect of being a woman and then how my immigrant experience has shaped, how I move about these spaces, whether or not it allows me to be more curious because I grew up with a certain curiosity being in Jamaica and running around freely as a kid. How, how those, those experiences shaped, how I move now as a black woman, I show up, I show up entirely knowing that I’m going to be probably one of the only woman on the water at that very moment or black women on the water at that very moment, fishing, fly fishing, or just, you know, spin tasking or whatever it is. I would probably be the only woman out there where I live.

Demiesha Dennis:

That doesn’t mean that they’re not other women out there fishing purchase in the immediate space of where I live. I’ll probably be the only out here. Secondly, showing up as a woman is I don’t want to go into fishing to be a part of bro culture. I don’t feel like I have to go into bro culture to fit into fishing. I don’t feel like I have to operate or move as men would in the space for me to fit in or for me to find a place here. So when I show up, I don’t, I’m not coming in with the idea that I, you know, I have to move a certain way. I have to operate a certain way because I’m a woman. The only time that really comes up for me is when I walk into a fly shop and I’m immediately dismissed on reasons of intersectionality.

Demiesha Dennis:

I show up as a woman, the natural cause of black woman and immediately I’m dismissed. I for one, this is not my store. I couldn’t be buying fishing supplies first and worst. I couldn’t be buying fly-fishing supplies. Like I walk into basket bro. And it’s like, okay, I don’t, if I don’t ask someone to come over and help me, even if I go stand in the fly shop and it’s as if no one that says it’s as if I don’t exist, it says, if I’m a part of the scenery, it’s a challenging space to be in. And I won’t gloss over that. And especially not having like a whole group of people for most people. I know when you go in fly fishing, it’s someone will introduce you to the sport. So you tend to end up clinging to that person. And it becomes a relationship where you go out with them.

Demiesha Dennis:

For me, I was, I introduced myself to fly fishing. So I don’t have like a whole community built around me to go fly fishing went, right? So it’s usually me as a woman by myself. Or if I take my daughter with me and trying to get my partner now into fly fishing. So at least I have some company when I go out, but other times it’s mostly me operating as a woman on my own and doing my thing when it comes to the intersectional piece of, of my identity and me showing up as a black woman, I’ve been in the space already and have had racial slurs, her, let me, uncle us standing, you know, fishing on a, on a Lake. I have, my car has been surrounded by men who feel like I shouldn’t be in that space before. So I have a whole bunch of different experience, different experiences based on how my identity intersects and it’s, it has its ups, but it has, it has done. But I ought to be honest with you, it hasn’t been the greatest part of my experience outdoors. So like, I don’t want to take away from the fact that there’s so much joy that I experienced with being out in nature as a woman, as a black woman, as a woman fishing, like the joy that I experienced from that kind of overshadows any of the negativity that I’ve experienced.

Gabaccia Moreno:

Absolutely. I appreciate you bringing that up because I think, you know, that’s where we are starting to see more people of color out fishing and specifically fly fishing too. There’s more of us doing it. And I think that also helps whenever we encounter those situations where we are deemed invisible or you know, where we are not taken seriously.

Gabaccia Moreno – Narration:

Building community spaces for people of color in the outdoors helps to break down assumptions, it helps create room for joy, it has ripple effects. Demiesha created her own organization to help change the narrative of outdoor adventure through outdoor adventure.

Demiesha Dennis:

I lead an organization as you know, called Brown Girl Outdoor World. And that’s just an organization that works to get more people of color into the outdoors and more people fishing and hiking, just enjoying nature itself and enjoying nature going on, hikes, going on leading community groups. It’s getting people to go out into nature so they can learn more about it and want to learn about it to the point where they get to love it, know it, love it and watch it protect it because it’s more than just enjoying it. It’s more than just the fun it’s getting out there and then asking yourself, how does your presence impact the environment? How does your presence here? What are you contributing? What are you taking away from nature as you’re in it,

Gabaccia Moreno:

Right. And what inspired you to start this organization?

Demiesha Dennis:

Just the lack of representation and not seeing myself reflected in, in these spaces. Like I would see common story looking at magazine and I, this would probably be any person of color would tell you that they look at them in the magazines and don’t see themselves, but coming here and moving to Canada and realizing that nature was here and more for grandiosely than it was in or looked at in the Caribbean. And it was a space of, Oh my God, you have to have the most expensive, this, the most expensive that to get out there to enjoy it. And for me, a part of the challenge was just being able to go into nature, go into the outdoors and just experience it like I did when I was in Jamaica as a kid, just, you know, continuously being in wander about the things that I saw and when I came and I started going hiking or camping, as I was doing it by myself and then people eventually started asking them about, are you doing this?

Demiesha Dennis:

Can I come? And I’m like, if I’m going to be doing this and I’m going to be out here and I’m going to start taking people with me, then I need to be able to have insurance. So go out and then something happened. So then I incorporated Brown girl outdoor world, and we’ve been operating for just over three years now as a, um, as an organization. And yeah, just pretty much get people outside and to give people the idea and the confidence that they do to belong with the outdoors. And it starts up in space that requires you to have like an enormous amount of knowledge or a huge amount of gear to get out there and to enjoy it.

Gabaccia Moreno:

I personally love what you do, how you do it, all the things that you talk about. I feel like I’m always learning from Brown girl outdoor world. So I thank you for that. And I think it’s, it’s just evidence of how much People of Color, want to reclaim their relationships to nature and redefine how they’ve been presented through the media, through outdoor brands. And we’ve been misrepresented in the outdoors organizations like yours are very valuable in this moment.

Demiesha Dennis:

Yeah, it’s it’s and I think it’s like the idea of, of creating a community around it for a lot of people big again, not seeing themselves represented in, in marketing and advertising and not seeing themselves represented in these conservation organizations or at your parks. It’s, where’s my space. I do. I belong here and being able to give community and to show that yes, there are black people or other people of color or indigenous people out there actively enjoying the outdoors, through adventure, learning about it and wanting to do more, to make it last. It’s a lot of, it’s important that people see that as important than that, people understand that they have a place in the grand picture and they don’t have to be told, or they don’t have to wait for someone or an organization to say, Hey, we see you. And we see value of you. There are community organizations out here. There are lots of grassroots organizations working to change that narrative and to change the idea that we have to wait on big brother to tell us that we can move about in nature, or we have to wait on massive organizations to invite us. We’ll find a community group. And if you can’t find one, start one, there’s so many people out there there’s so much room for, for more than one of us to let people know that, you know, there’s these out there for them.

Gabaccia Moreno:

I’m curious to hear what is a gratifying lesson that you’ve learned from bridging community on the outdoors.

Demiesha Dennis:

Oh my God, that I know nothing and that I need to learn everything now it’s, for me, it was just one of the most gratifying things that I’ve learned about this space and bringing community into this space is that we are sometimes our biggest limits. And we sometimes prevent ourselves from getting into things because of how we allow other people’s ideas and other people’s thoughts of who we should be to influence what we do and how we move about this world or for being an at BGOW and people come into this space and finding a place here. It’s, it’s super interesting to see how, when you give someone the idea of community and being safe and having a space for themselves within this grand scheme of the outdoors, how much more easy it is for them to, you know, start developing a relationship with it and not feel so isolated.

Demiesha Dennis:

So for me, just, just learning that community’s super important and getting people out and it’s community is one of the things that everybody clings to when they come to Brown Girl Outdoor World is the community and how we move and how we operate in the fact that they come in, they’re in a space where they feel safe and they feel, see, one of the things from, from last year was I ran this contest for someone to spend a day with me fishing in one of our parks here, and the person who won it has never been into that park space and they’ve never been fishing. And we did that trip in the fall where was nice and beautiful. And they got out there and went fishing, have the most amazing time. And now their child is asking them, okay, mom, when are you going to take me fishing, whatever you’re going to go camping. And that is what I work to see in this outdoor space. It’s not just about coming out to beat Gow events and being involved in that is how are you taking whatever you’ve learned here and bringing it home to you. So your family, your kids, your friends can see that there speaks for them out there.

Gabaccia Moreno:

Oh, absolutely. That’s, that’s definitely how the love continues to spread. Right?

Demiesha Dennis:

Yeah. I think it’s important that yeah, the whole community piece of it and sharing that knowledge once you, once you’re no longer in the space that, that you were introduced is how you continue to share that knowledge,

Gabaccia Moreno – Narration:

Paying it forward and creating more space in the outdoors for people of color is what Demiesha, and Brown Girl Outdoor World, is all about. We’ll talk more with Demiesha about where she finds joy and how women can show up for each other on the water – after this.

Gabaccia Moreno – Narration:

We’re back.

Gabaccia Moreno:

In your opinion, how can women better show up in the water for each other versus sculpting that wide male dominant culture in fly fishing?

Demiesha Dennis:

Not adapting to it, not letting your presence or be determined by that culture. I mean, if we all go out to fish and all ascribe to the white male dominant representation of what fly fishing looks like, then guaranteed, that’s how we’re going to end up. And that’s how fly fishing for women is going to be viewed, invite a woman out with you when you go fishing. You know, the idea that we have to be taught fishing by men, or we have to be taught fishing by someone, male identifying who’s had like a lot of experiences on the water. I think it’s a part of what sold, you know, solved by fishing as this elite thing, like in things past. But I don’t think that’s necessarily what we should be aligning ourselves to now. It’s just, how, how can we get more women out there on the water? And it takes an invitation. If you’re going out, invite someone, if you, if you have extra equipment, Hey, I have this extra equipment. I’d love for you to come out with me and try fly fishing. If they say no, that’s on them, but at least you would have extended that invitation, right?

Gabaccia Moreno:

Yeah. A hundred percent. I think it’s almost the same as when we, when we talk about children too, like it, it really takes one invitation to get someone curious about it. Even if at that time they don’t think they wanted, at least you’ve planted something that maybe will make them curious. And then maybe, you know, in a year they’re like, remember when you said we should go fishing. I kind of want to go fishing now. And you never know how, you know, those relationships can start forming between people and all the different activities that we can do outside.

Demiesha Dennis:

100%. And I think that’s like, yeah, like you said, plant that seed. And I know a lot of people come at a lot of times, people are like, Oh my God, I would go anywhere with you, but I’m not going fishing. I’m a bait and trap person. Like, I’ll get you to come out and I’ll beat you into fishing and you can try fishing ones. You don’t have to sorta again. But when I go out again, I’m going to invite you to remember when we went fishing and this happened or whatever it is. And I’ll always try to pull like a grand memory from that moment to get them all excited again, about coming back out to fish with me. So I’m, I’m all about beating people into, coming to learn to fish with me.

Gabaccia Moreno:

It’s a really fun experience to introduce someone to the water. And even most times I feel like folks won’t catch something on their first time out anyway. So it’s, it’s more about getting them to appreciate the whole experience as a whole, as you know, being, and understanding the river and thinking about where the fish are going to be and how you can relate to that. And, and that space without, you know, without even, uh, really catching

Demiesha Dennis:

It’s fun seeing the idea of going fishing. When I tell people that I didn’t invite you all to catch fish, I invited you out to go fishing. Cause there’s a difference. If you tell people you’re going out to catch fish, then the idea and expectation is that. Of course I got on my first time, I’m going to catch a bucket full of fish. Well truth. And in fact, it’s like you fish more than you catch fish. So don’t come with that expectation.

Gabaccia Moreno – Narration:

You might remember Serene Cusack and I laughing about this on our episode last month. And if you think about it, the same goes for a lot of what we love to do outside: we call it hiking, not summiting; it’s climbing, not sending; gardening, not harvesting. The more we can embrace the experience, the sweeter it feels to reach a goal.

Gabaccia Moreno:

So through your Instagram account for Brown girl outdoor world, we get to hear a lot about joy. And you mentioned that earlier today, too. And I’m curious to hear, how did you come to choose joy as this strong pillar for all the work that you do?

Demiesha Dennis:

Tired of being miserable joy for me is that there’s this whole idea. And this concept that black people face so much struggle that we don’t have joy, but that is not the be all and end all of who we are. There’s still so much joy in the existence of being a black woman, of being a black person, being a black child. There’s so much joy. But when you look at, you know, media, when you look at everything else, they will try to show you the opposite. And they’ll try to tell you the opposite. And it’s so easy to get caught up in this idea that there is no joy or get caught up in the idea that we have to struggle to find joy. And that isn’t the truth. I, in the space that we go into with, with Brown girl, girl, world joy is what predicates, how we move joy is why we’re together as a community.

Demiesha Dennis:

Joy is what keeps people coming back to this community when everything else in the world is topsy-turvy. And it’s not, it’s not, what’s motivating you to move back a moment and find if we step back and step into the moment of joyful things, everything is shifts everything. Even if it’s just for the moment that you’re thinking of that joyful thing, it’s a shift. And I think it’s important that as much as there’s so much going on going on to the world, that there’s so much struggle and there’s so much, you know, there’s so much negative counteracting that with joy. And even like I said, even for a brief moment, stepping into that joy from all the stress and all the struggles is sometimes just that little thing that you need to turn, whatever was going on in your head going on in that day, going on in that space, that you’re in that moment of joy. And that memory is enough to turn that moment around for you. And so even after, you know, going through the whole thing with, with all the racial uprising, that’s going on in the world, in, in, in the U S and, and tripping into Canada, it’s, it’s important that we remember that not everything is a negative in how we exist.

Gabaccia Moreno:

Thank you. Thank you for sharing that. I totally agree. And I think you do a great job in, in really just leading with joy. Is there a specific aspect of spending time outside that brings you the most joy?

Demiesha Dennis:

It’s going to sound so cliched, but I just not even appreciate, but just it’s when I bring community outside with me and to see the smiles on people’s faces, when they get to experience those moments in the outdoor as a part of something for, for us, when we, when we go out, we usually, we never usually just go out. We go out, we learn. And at the end of the day, when we’re all leaving, it’s we have intentional setting moments. If it’s for the year, for the month, whatever it is, we leave with setting our intentions and what we want to achieve, what we want to accomplish, how we want to move about the world for the rest of the time that we’re not in a BJW setting or things that we want to accomplish for ourselves, whether you’re brand new to the group or whether you’re a part of that.

Demiesha Dennis:

The core group of people will come out with us. There still has to be an aspect of how everything we’re doing here, outdoors in this space relates to bringing you joy in your life. So for me, it’s bringing the community outside, seeing them move about seeing them come to appreciate, um, nature, seeing them, you know, look at it from a different angle, seeing them look at a bug and not freak out about a bug, because everyone told them that mosquito is going to eat them alive. Just understanding that they come into this space and it is theirs. They too can come out, enjoy it, learn about whose lands we’re on as we’re, um, we’re navigating these spaces on understanding how we respect the land, how we know give back to the land and how we do not take away from it, but continuously give from ourselves support to make it better.

Gabaccia Moreno:

What is the general feedback that you get from the folks that join you in all of these outdoor adventures?

Demiesha Dennis:

When’s the next one? Everybody always wants to know when we’re going out again and what do we have planned right now? We’re, we’re locked in because of, of COVID and we’re not able to go out, but I still do, you know, continuously support the community online and, and, and give them, give them things to look forward to in terms of what we’re planning for next steps. So everybody’s super important interested in, in, in getting continuously, building that community, bringing people into the space with them, having them, you know, realize that they’re not alone and be whatever they thought they could win the outdoors. They can do it in that. There’s a community there for it. People want more, they want to learn. They want to adventure. They want to feel that sense of belonging in a community space or in the understanding that yes, you come out to Brown Girl Outdoor World.

Demiesha Dennis:

Well, then you’ve had this amazing experience. Now we can take these things back home with you and introduce it to your family and friends, and go on nature, walks with your family, go, you know, take your kid, take your niece, your nephew, whoever it is, I take them outside into your neighborhood and just realize that nature is right around them. So people they people want that people don’t want to, they’re not only subscribing to nature. And the grand idea anymore. They’re announcing that, you know, a walking in community park is being out in nature. A walk with your family is you spending time outdoors, spending time in niches, you enjoying enjoying nature in the sense that it’s right outside your door. And it doesn’t have to be some grandiose idea of, of, or something ginormous for it to be considered a part of nature. Yeah.

Demiesha Dennis:

So people just coming in and learning and, and, and wanting to come back for more wanting to bring people along with them, wanting to continue the learning, whether you leave people, sending me pictures of birds, that they would’ve never looked at me, or, you know, just saying, Hey, do you have any recommendations for stuff that I see places that I could go fishing? Uh, you’re always talking about fishing. You know, is there anywhere in the city that I can go, where can I get a rod to, to rent? What kind of fishing kind of stuff do I need to just go out and take my kids fishing? So those were some of the most gratifying things for me is when the community comes out, when they find themselves outdoors, when they find a space for themselves and want to explore and navigate it some more,

Gabaccia Moreno:

Oh, I, I really appreciate that shift and just consciousness and in our communities to say, you know, nearby nature is as valuable as hiking, Mount Everest or whatever people think of when they think of being outdoorsy.

Demiesha Dennis:

Yeah. And it’s even more important when you’re, you know, thinking about nature at home or close, nearby nature is your more inclined to do something that’s going to impact the nature that’s to you. So going out there, getting to know about it, getting to see how you can, you can protect the plants that the same birds will come back to wherever you’re in. How will you plan how native trees are any in the environment, what the species that are coming back to them every year and what your impact is on that specific space that prevent you from living. So it’s important that we do look at nature nearby nature and see how really important it is to the brand or idea of nature.

Gabaccia Moreno – Narration:

In many ways, Demiesha continues to prove to herself and others that the simple act of showing up outdoors is enough to find joy and to get our communities excited and caring about the natural spaces we share. Demisha wanted to leave you all with these last thoughts:

Demiesha Dennis:

Just get outside and get into nature. Um, don’t subscribe to the idea that nature has to be massive grand, and it has to be a national park for you to, you know, care about it, or want to work to, to, to, to protect it. Think about nature, close to home, mate, you’re nearby and put the same amount of energy and effort into it as you would, if you wanted to go into the national park. And if you wanted to see the grand idea of the national park, put that same energy and that same effort into protecting the nature that’s nearby you.

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