Rue Mapp offers transformation through new book, ‘Nature Swagger’ – Times-Herald

For those seeking change through nature, the new book “The Swagger of Nature” appears to be a global road map.

Or in this case, the International Rue map collection.

Mapp, a Vallejo native, is the founder and CEO of Outdoor Afro, and oversees a carefully selected and trained staff and national volunteer team. Since launching Outside Afro as a blog in 2009, Rio has attracted the attention and support of millions through a multimedia approach grounded in personal connections and community organizing. She has taken celebrities like Oprah Winfrey and Serena Williams on tour.

Last week Mapp spoke with The Times Herald to discuss “nature’s swagger” and how to find your nature up close and within. Interspersed throughout “Nature Swagger” are articles from Maps on the rich history of black involvement in the outdoors, activism and conservation, as well as resources for readers who want to explore nature in new ways. It is a combination of photographs, stories and black history.

“I wrote this book over the last two years while there was a nationwide racial reckoning going on,” Rapp said. “I want to double down and remind people that nature is never closed and always close. Nature is really a platform for change. This book is not just mine but it is a collection of many people, and it is very diverse. Our youngest contributor is 9, while our oldest is 99. There are 30 contributors in total.

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Mapp said the book is filled with all kinds of photography, from photos from the 1970s to more recent photos.

The map will be at Alibi Bookstore on December 11 to promote “Nature’s Swagger.”

Meanwhile, Out Afro is a national nonprofit organization that has become the nation’s leading, cutting-edge network for celebrating and inspiring black connections and leadership in nature. They have offices in Oakland and Washington, D.C. and have leadership networks across the country. With more than 100 trained volunteer leaders in 30 states from across the country, Outdoor Afro connects thousands of people with outdoor experiences, and actively changes the face of conservation. From its early beginnings, Outdoor Afro now enjoys national sponsorship and is recognized by major organizations for its role in addressing the ongoing need for greater diversity abroad.

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Mapp is also no stranger to helping Solano County and Vallejo. Earlier this year, U.S. Representative Mike Thompson announced that Mapp is his 2022 Solano County Climate Crisis Champion.

Thompson was impressed that over the past five years, Outdoor Afro has included a policy and education cohort that has advocated for environmental protection legislation, including the Groundwater Conservation Fund, which funds parks and public lands. Afro Outdoors includes more than 60,000 participants and more than 100 volunteer leaders who participate in outdoor activities, such as hiking, fishing, biking, and more.

“Mick Thompson has always been consistent with his love of outdoor afros,” Mapp said. “He also hosted us in 2019. He is truly special. I share his passion for bird hunting and in 2018 we both participated in a community bike ride. Walked all the way from the waterfront to Carkins Bridge and back.

Mapp said it’s important to explore nature in your city, not just faraway places.

“I really like the Vallejo waterfront, because it’s so diverse,” Mapp said. “It’s a cross section of heat and people actually talk to you and say hello,” Mapp said. “Not only have I been there, I’ve roller skated there, I’ve fished there, and I’ve eaten at good restaurants there.”

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Mapp said he also enjoys Lake Chabot because of the kayak groups and a few parks on Snake Island, as well as his Vista neighborhood.

“Nature is truly an equalizer,” Mapp said. “When I took Oprah and Serena on tour, I think they just wanted to go to a place of healing where nobody was constantly telling them what to do. Where they could be out of the public eye. Get out. Nature provides it all. The trees don’t care if you’re black. The leaves don’t care how much money is in your bank account. I felt they had an experience in nature that they could enjoy.

Nature’s swagger, stories and visions of black happiness in the outdoors can be purchased at Chronicle Books as well as bookstores such as Alibi Bookstore in the Vallejo.

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