In her new book, ‘Nature Swagger’, Rue Mapp shines a light on black joy outdoors
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If there’s one thing Rue Mapp wants you to know, it’s that nature is for everyone. “It’s something universal,” says Mapp. “Anyone can touch it.
That sentiment is loud and clear in his new book, Nature’s swagger, released on November 1. The 192 pages of the visual book, as Mapp describes it, are filled with portraits and personal essays of black travellers, highlighting their experiences in the great outdoors, from breakthroughs achieved by climbing Africa’s tallest mountain, to learning (and teaching) about sustainability through beekeeping, and beyond.
This effort to showcase black joy in nature is something anyone who knows Mapp will know. His non-profit organization and community, Outdoor Afro, is built around the same principle, with the express purpose of changing the narrative of who outdoor activities are through visual representation, while celebrating and inspiring leadership. black in nature. “Get out, but head outside,” Mapp likes to say.
In this book, the work continues in an entirely new format. We spoke with Mapp about creating nature swagger, and how she hopes it will be something all travelers can connect with — plus, she reflects on her own moments of clarity found in nature (including one while hiking with Oprah).
How did you find the title Nature’s swagger?
I’ve been using the term “nature swagger” since the very beginning of Outdoor Afro. Maybe four or five years ago the term came to mind how “Outdoor Afro” came to me. It was one of those phrases that made a lot of sense to describe what I hoped people would achieve through their experiences in nature, but also specifically through Outdoor Afro. I thought a lot, of course, about my own family background, growing up in nature, and how my parents moved around with a kind of confidence and assurance that was inspired by nature. So, for me, it was about a nature-friendly way of life, filled with both confidence and ease. The opportunity we all have to tap into this for the purpose and benefit of our own lives is something I wanted this book to pay tribute to.