Refuge Outdoor Festival is returning on September 18-20th, and you won’t want to miss it! Golden Bricks Events launched their 3-day outdoor camping, recreation and music experience geared toward Black, Indigenous, people of color, and white allies in 2018 in Carnation, WA. Due to the pandemic, the 2020, Refuge Outdoor Festival will be going virtual, with workshops, group discussions, live music and performances, and thoughtful programming throughout to make this end of summer festival dope as ever!
I (Caitie K.) chatted with founder of Golden Bricks Events and visionary of Refuge Outdoor Festival, Chevon Powell, about why this festival is so important to the community this year, the benefits of going online, and what she’s stoked about for this 2020 Festival.
Early in the pandemic, the Refuge Outdoor Festival team was hopeful that an in-person event would be possible, but by May it became obvious in-person events wouldn’t be happening and the team was debating a virtual event. Then, during the second week of protests following George Floyd’s murder, a friend told Chevon they wished they had a refuge. And with that, the debate about whether or not to go virtual was over. Chevon reflected: “Refuge Outdoor Festival is all about community, being connected, and having a different type of experience in a safer way for a weekend. We just felt with the pandemic and multiple uprisings it was important to us to still have this space available for people to be in community with like-minded folx.”
Another deciding factor was the need to continue to hold space for and provide representation of people of color in the outdoors. Chevon explains, “A lot of newer folx are getting engaged in the outdoors and there is still this conversation that people of color aren’t a part of the outdoors, and that is just not true. So, to put on something like Refuge and say, we’re here, we’re still here, we’re going to keep being here, and we’re going to keep creating our spaces, so that no one feels like they are alone in this.”
I am ecstatic that Chevon and the Golden Bricks Events team decided on moving forward with the virtual event, which has been curated with a lot of thought, intentionality, and joy, and I can’t wait to attend! Attendees are also able to design their own schedule by selecting workshops and discussions.
Here is a look at my Friday schedule:
2:30 pm: Birding 101 + Interview with Girl Trek
4:30 pm: How Disability Justice Will Build Caring Communities
6:30 pm: Community Gathering: Welcome + Interactive cooking demonstration + Dinner breakout groups
8:30 pm: Black Reel-ness: 2 films created by Black filmmakers: Pedal Through and Royaltee
My Saturday and Sunday schedules are also packed with rad workshops on bikepacking, a non-Black POC affinity group, Building a Healing Toolkit for BIPOC, live music from Gretchen Yanover and a performance by Dakota Camacho, and so much more.
View the full Friday-Sunday schedule offerings here.
With the festival going virtual, Chevon is hoping to reach more folx geographically and bring this people of color-centered outdoor community to others who might not have this nearby. “That’s the beauty of technology, that we do have the ability for someone in Florida who wants to participate, because there aren’t many options close to them for people of color in the outdoors to gather in these sorts of ways.”
One of the things Chevon is most excited about for Refuge Outdoors Fest is the opportunity to include more workshop leaders from different parts of the country. “We can tap people’s knowledge from outside of Seattle which is super exciting and adding to the diversity of what Refuge is.” One of the leaders is Danielle Stickman, of Dena’ina and Koyukon Athabascan descent who currently lives in Alaska. Danielle recently traveled to the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge on the Hulahula River. She will discuss the history of the Arctic Refuge and the need to protect the Coastal Plain from future oil and gas drilling. She will also discuss Indigenous Inupiat and Gwich’in Peoples who live in and around the Arctic Refuge and have been stewards of the land since time immemorial.
“Refuge is anything to which one has recourse for aid, relief, or escape” and right now, during a pandemic and a national reckoning for racial justice, we are all in need of refuge. It doesn’t matter if you’re new to the outdoors, an expert, or just want to be in community with others, all are welcome to this 2-night camp-in event geared toward Black, Indigenous, people of color, white allies welcome. “Imagine a family reunion, summer camp, and rejuvenating retreat rolled into one. This festival is a safer space for all participants [with] community conversations and nightly concerts” from the comfort of your home. Tickets are on a sliding scale with full scholarships available for communities of color. And, even if you can’t attend, you can still donate to support this community celebration via the registration link below.