Back to Our Roots: Connecting to the Outdoors Connects Me to Family

Submitted by Danielle Moodie-Mills, a friend and ally of Outdoor Afro, and fellow alumna of the 2012 Root 100!
The brisk chill of the early mornings in Washington, D.C. before the city becomes occupied by thousands of footprints, beeping horns, and the air is tainted with smoke and smog makes me reminiscent of the breaking dawns of my childhood—mornings greeted with my grandfather handing me a cup of chocolate tea and a fishing rod.

Born in Jamaica, my grandfather loved the outdoors. Who wouldn’t love it in a place where the deep blue color in the ocean isn’t an optical illusion and there is no need for Vitamin D tablets—a walk along the palm tree lined streets or a stroll along the beach is all you need.  I used to ask him when I was young why he had so many muscles because he didn’t go to the gym, he used to look at me laugh and gesture to the outdoors and say “why would I go to a gym?” Why indeed.
My grandparent’s garage wall was filled with tools and fishing rods for all their grandchildren—and there were a bunch of us.
The drive to the docks were always the most fun, all of us kids crammed into a car with our heads hanging out the window taking in the smell of the early morning and noticing the change in the air as we got closer to the water.   As soon as we arrived we would all spring out of the car like Jack-in-the-Boxes itching to be the one who brought in the first catch of the day.  We were like little sailors (minus the boat) lined up on the dock taking in the sweet salty smell of the water and watching the sun rise higher and higher in the sky. Nothing used to beat those mornings with my family outside—well, maybe the fish dinner that my grandmother would make that evening.
My grandparents were sustainable before it was cool.
Whether we were picking callaloo and mint from their enormous backyard garden or fishing on the dock or swinging from the handmade swing my grandfather fashioned for me from their largest tree—the outdoors was always a place where family and adventure intertwined.
Many years have passed since those family outdoor adventures, and it saddens me that pollution has stopped my grandfather from being able to take my younger cousins on the fishing trips I once enjoyed so much. Unfortunately, it’s not just pollution that has kept them from the outdoors—today kids spend on average 7-10 hours plugged into electronics and just minutes in the outdoors.  Where I used to make up stories and find mystery under stones or within the limbs of trees they seek out video games and the television to entertain themselves.
Did I watch TV as kid, sure! But I never did find a show or game that provided me with the joy that the feel of a fishing rod in my hands; sight of the sun glistening off the water; and the burst of giggles at the first catch of the morning ever gave me.  Nope, there is no screen that has ever given me more excitement as a kid or adult for that matter, then the sound of a screen door swinging open to the adventures that await me in the outdoors.
Danielle Moodie-Mills is living, loving and laboring OUT loud! She is the Sr. Mgr. for Environmental Education Campaigns  at the National Wildlife Federation and Advisor for LGBT Policy and Racial Justice at the Center for American Progress. Read her musings on politics and pop culture at
Follow her on Twitter @DeeTwoCents and @threeLOL

Atlanta Outdoor Afros Hike-Inn!

While I was celebrating with the Root 100 last week, Outdoor Afro Atlanta had the opportunity to gather up by invitation at the Len Foote Hike Inn!


About 20 Outdoor Afros showed for an autumn retreat, some traveling from as far as Florida to enjoy a day and night hike, delicious dinner, and breakfast the following morning. It is noteworthy these dedicated Outdoor Afros took time off work mid-week to make time for nature – what a treat!

 Atlanta’s Outdoor Afro super-star leader Reginald Mitchell said, “This was a great deal, and everything was just wonderful – we felt so welcomed.”
Another Outdoor Afro, Nellie said, “I had a great two days of hiking, staying at the wonderful Len Foote Hike Inn (superior service), eating great food and having some of the most interesting conversations I have had in years! Great memories made… Can’t wait for the next hike!”
Located near Dawsonville and Dahlonega, the Len Foote Hike Inn at Amicalola Falls State Park is a back country inn with 2-person private rooms with comfy bunk beds; hot showers, sinks, and compost toilets in the bath house; and prepared meals served in their dining room.

The Inn is accessible only by foot over a moderate 5 mile hiking trail which originates at the top of the Amicalola Falls. The hike takes from 2 to 4 hours, and the beautiful trail is entirely within the Chattahoochee National Forest and Amicalola Falls State Park.
Guests only need to bring personal items, including clothing, toiletries, and food and water for the trail. Bed linens and towels are provided and a family style dinner and breakfast are served. There are great porches with rocking chairs, and indoor and outdoor gathering spaces, along with books and games.
The buildings are awesome, beautiful, green, and LEED Certified Gold! You can learn more about it at their website.
Thank you Eric Graves at the Len Foote Hike-Inn for your wonderful invitation and hospitality for the Outdoor Afro community!

A Celebration of Positive Influence

It’s been an amazing week for the Outdoor Afro community. I just came back from New York to participate in Henry Louis Gates’ 2012 Root 100 Gala to celebrate the most influential African Americans, of which I was honored to be a part. Among those recognized included Melissa Harris-Perry, LeBron James, and Benjamin Crump, among many other awesome, and passionate individuals representing a wide range of professional paths and vocations aimed at improving the black community. Check out the entire list

For me it was a huge honor to help represent the outdoor recreation field and help positively voice the opportunity for more people to connect with nature. The event itself was very well orchestrated at the Tribeca Rooftop with great company, food, and dancing!
Check out more photos of the event!

We thank The Root for this important recognition and anticipate the ways we can continue to positively influence our community toward better health and sustainability. I especially am grateful for the Outdoor Afro New York team, Akiima Price, Brigitte Griswald, Omari Washington, and Yvonne “Eb” Williams for being down and illuminating the path.