by Amanda Ong
Sundaes Outside: A Celebration of Black Folks will be held at Be’er Sheva Park this Sunday, May 15. The event will be an outdoor music and market space, featuring a number of performers and partners.
“Sundaes Outside was just really created to celebrate Black folks and nature, and create an experience for folks that come out to the parks on Sundays,” Chevon Powell, organizer of the event, said in an interview with the South Seattle Emerald. “But also just to check out the different ways we can be outside — which means you can be outside in your backyard, in your neighborhood, you can be outside in a state park, you can do lunch or recreation, you can camp.”
Powell is the founder of Golden Bricks Events, a small business working on different projects and events around diversity, equity, and inclusion in the outdoors, geared toward creating safe spaces for BIPOC folks in the outdoors. Powell founded Golden Bricks in 2018 to cater to communities in the Puget Sound area.
One of the first events Powell launched with Golden Bricks was the Refuge Outdoor Festival, a three-day camping experience geared toward People of Color and their allies. The event centers on community building and includes workshops and arts and other outdoor activities. The fifth annual Refuge Outdoor Festival will be held this year from Aug. 12 to 14.
While Refuge Outdoor Festival is annual and hopes to increase accessibility for BIPOC in camping, Sundaes Outside will be a more regular event and aims to increase accessibility for BIPOC to simply be outside.
“We’re creating a number of experiences throughout the year to connect, really center and connect Black folks in nature,” Powell said. “[This is] our kickoff for the year and it’s going to be a mix of a concert, a market, because we believe it’s essential to connect folks to resources and the community … There will be a number of just different ways to engage in a public space but also was just for folks to come together and kick it.”
Golden Bricks Events will host four Sundaes Outside this year. This Sunday is their first of the series and their only Sundaes Outside in Seattle. The second Sundaes Outside will be in July at Dash Point State Park. Their third Sundaes Outside will be a Black-centered camp at Sequim Bay State Park in September. And the fourth Sundaes Outside will take place this winter at Mount Spokane.
Activities this Sunday showcase the diverse ways to get involved in nature. Seattle Audubon will be hosting an osprey nest walk. There will be live outdoor painting sessions and tours to Rainier Beach Urban Farm and Wetlands.
“One of the things [in planning Sundaes Outside] was like, how do we get connected to the folks that are in that area?” Powell said. “Because we do want it to be of service to that community there. And the outreach that we’ve been doing in the marketing has really been centered on South End-inviting.”
Powell says that while working down in South Seattle, Golden Bricks must be cognizant of the fact that the community is continuously under-resourced and under-connected, especially to outdoor spaces. So for all of their events, they are actually providing guests transportation from South Seattle to these other activities and state parks.
“We think it’s important to provide access so that there’s greater connections, and we understand that the Black community that has continuously been pushed down to the South End [is who] we want to serve,” Powell said. “Providing different ways to connect to nature is what we want to do.”
It has been a common fallacy that BIPOC are uninterested in spending time outdoors — however, it has actually been found that 70% of BIPOC participate in outdoor activities. The problem is not interest, but access due to socioeconomic status — only 23% of visitors to national parks are BIPOC. When BIPOC do participate in outdoor activities with higher barriers to access, spaces can often be unsafe, as has been the case for Powell.
“As an African American woman that had a traumatic experience in the outdoors, I want to create safer experiences for people that look like me,” Powell said. “I know that a lot of people that look like me go outside, so I also want to showcase them. But at the end of the day, there needs to be a narrative change around the outdoors. And if I can do anything to support that, and uplift that, that’s what I’m going to do.”
While Sundaes Outside has been designed to celebrate Black folks in nature, Powell says that we know that we’re all in community together. Thus, the event is not exclusively just for Black folks, but for everybody in the community, even though it will showcase the voices and faces of Black folks.
“As a Black person that has been in the outdoors and wants to be connected to more folks in the outdoors, I’m just excited as we were coming out of being in lockdown to get back around,” Powell said. “I’ve been inviting other Black organizers, organizations, performers … making sure that they’re highlighted is one of the things that I’m most excited about, [and] to continue to be able to create a platform that I can showcase others and allow them to shine.”
Sundaes Outside will be this Sunday, May 15, at Be’er Sheva Park at 8650 55th Ave. S.
Editors’ Note: This article was updated on 5/20/2022 to correct the fact that Golden Bricks is a small business and not a nonprofit as well as the fact that the third Sundaes Outside will occur at Sequim Bay State Park, not Swim Bay.
Amanda Ong (she/her) is a Chinese American writer from California. She is currently a master’s candidate at the University of Washington Museology program and graduated from Columbia University in 2020 with degrees in creative writing and ethnicity and race studies.
📸 Featured Image: (Photos: Golden Bricks Events with editing by the Emerald Team)
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