>>Example - and Mags can attest to this - in some cultures (Italian just as >>one pertinent example) the family is more important than anything else - to l>>eave the family is to be voluntarily ostracized - and to hike for 6 months is >>definitely "leaving the family." And NOT acceptable.
Yep...the Magnanti clan (and esp. mom's side of the family which is isn't Magnanti..but the dynamics are the same) scratched their collective heads over someone voluntarily being homeless and in the woods for months on the end. When I moved to Colorado it was a bit of mini-scandal as 6 children and 16 grandchildren all lived within 10 minutes of each other. I am still considered a black sheep of sorts in the family. My family loves me dearly..just don't understand why I had to move so far away (Esp. five years ago when it first happened! On my mom's visit last year, she started crying and said "Sons should not do this to their mothers". So..it is still an adjustment for my family for me to be living 2000 miles away.)
Yep. The trail is NOT a diverse place. Hoepfully that will change. As of now it is pretty much the domain of middle - upper middle class, college educated, caucasians. Not a cross section of America to say the least.
As mentioned in another forum, hiking the trail was an eye opener for me. It really introduced me to ideas and concepts that were alien to me.
Interesting to meet people whose experience was much different than mine. People who grew up without knowing their grandparents as someone down the street, only working during the summer months, having cousins all over the US as opposed to literally down the street, etc. I can honestly say if I did not start backpacking probably would have followed a path that would leave me a much different person than I am today. As Jim mentioned, this path I did follow was not always a smooth one.
(There is a great book about this type of experience called LIMBO by Albert Lubrano. People like myself who have crossed over from a blue collar background to a "middle class" one. Thru-hiking was a definite part of the experience for me!)
Anyway, as Jim mentioned, diverstiy of all types needs to be encouraged for trail users. Not just for PC reasons so we can sing "Kum Buy Ya" around the campfire but so we can be sure that the wilderness we love continues to be supported. People who do not experience the outdoors are less likely to support it. As long as the outdoors is perceived as the domain of a very small group of people, the overall tax dollars and resources may not go to support what we love as much. People literally vote with their feet in this case!
Anyway, diversity on the trail is more than just about "race" (which is a cultural and not a biological term. 100 years ago, the powers that be debated in my ancestors were "White" for example). The trail, and the outdoors in general, need to be loved by more than our small non-too-diverse tribe.
How to reach out to more people? I honestly do not know.
As with many people I can define what the issue is...and as with many people coming up an answer will take harder work.
Mags (a family nick name of at least 80 years...)