The Mazama DEI Committee is committed to imagining, listening to, developing, recommending, fostering, and supporting changes to policies and programs within the organization that increase diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging, which forms the basis for the committee’s scope. 

The committee is made up of Mazama members, nonmembers, and friends of the committee to best represent the diverse communities that participate in activities and events with the Mazamas.  

Affinity Spaces in the Mazamas

Frequently Asked Questions about Affinity Spaces in the Mazamas

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Why do we need affinity spaces?

As we continue to evolve our organization's support for Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging, it is important that we designate spaces where folks from underrepresented and historically marginalized groups can find emotional, physical, and psychological safety as they participate in Mazama activities. We ask for these spaces so that folks can show up as their full selves and find acceptance, a sense of belonging, understanding and celebration.

Many descriptions of affinity spaces will exceed what can be shared through a title alone. For activities labeled “(AS),” the description of the affinity space and any links needed to describe it more thoroughly can be found in Activity Notes, following the text “Affinity Space (AS): .”

The addition of (AS) designation to an activity is meant to be an act of transparency as we are trying to create safe spaces within this community. It's also a practice of trauma informed care because it gives folks a heads up as to what to expect when they show up for an activity. It can help add a certain degree of confidence that someone signing up with that affinity identity will be supported in that activity and around like-folks.

The DEI Committee asks for the community's support in implementing the activity designation (AS) for Affinity Spaces and advocating for safe spaces for all of our participants.

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Why do we need affinity groups?

It’s hard to be a new student in a class or on a climb among people you don’t know. Have you ever been the only X in the group, the oldest, the youngest, the only one that identified in a way that was or felt different from the rest? Maybe you tried to find something as a common reference to build a connection with others as you were trying to feel part of the community. An affinity group provides that common reference as a starting point.

An affinity group is a designated “safe space,” where everyone in that group is connected by a particular identity including  race, gender, sexual orientation, culture and many others.

Affinity groups center the needs of participants and they build community. They provide opportunities where there previously was none. They serve to elevate those who have previously been excluded and provide ways for people who love the outdoors to stay connected even when life circumstances change.

How to set up an Activity as an affinity space using (AS)

The activity designation (AS) for affinity spaces is not required for established programs such as AYM, Classics, and Families. For all other new affinity spaces, this designation will be the umbrella for the creation and support of new affinity spaces within the Mazamas. Once a new description for an affinity space is established, then activity leaders have autonomy to create events using that description.

To setup an activity with an affinity space:

  1. Check below to find if a description for the affinity space that you want already exists on the list of affinity space descriptions. If it doesn't, please email the DEI Committee at dei@mazamas.org and include "affinity space" in the subject line. We will work with you to create one. 
  2. Add (AS) to the end of the title of an activity (Activity Name). For example, "Salmon River Hike (AS)."
  3. Begin the Activity Description with Affinity Space (AS): followed by a description of the affinity space.

Affinity space descriptions

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Substance free

Affinity Space (AS): This is a substance-free space. The activity will not include talk or the use of any drugs or alcohol. Our intention is to create a safe space free from substance use for those who want one.

More descriptions will be added through partnership, collaboration, and outreach.

Mazama Commitment to Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging

Mazama Equity Statement

The mission statement of the Mazamas is intrinsically tied to and depends on our organization prioritizing equity, inclusion, and diversity. We can’t inspire everyone to love and protect the mountains without acknowledging the exclusive history of the outdoor industry, and practicing an equitable approach moving forward. This history has created structural and cultural barriers, including indigenous erasure from the places we recreate in and care about so deeply, and stunted the potential for a wide diversity of people to love and protect the mountains.

While we have members and participants of many races, ages, and genders, the Mazamas currently is a largely white, affluent, and able-bodied organization, both in leadership and participation. Many of our structural and cultural practices further white supremacy by marginalizing, excluding, and oppressing the diversity of people who might otherwise participate in our programming. This is a loss to our organization morally and functionally. We believe diversity is important to the Mazamas because it broadens our knowledge, increases our creative ability to innovate, and creates a stronger and safer community for everyone. Diversity is about more than representation, it is fundamentally about inclusion. We can build diversity by practicing inclusion that actively prioritizes and elevates those who have been historically excluded from the Mazamas and the greater outdoor community. 

We are very much in the beginning phases of our journey towards becoming an organization that can inspire everyone to love and protect the mountains. Our goals are to increase the safety and inclusion of all aspects of the Mazama experience by ensuring equitable resource dedication to all groups, intentional programming, and increased representation of traditionally marginalized people in our leadership. The Mazamas will actively recruit members of underrepresented groups to leadership positions within the organization in order to begin the process of creating a truly inclusive direction and vision. We understand that we need to address certain cultural norms, and actively work toward cultivating a culture of physical and psychological safety, where people trust they can participate as their whole selves.

We know that we still have, and will always have much work to do. Thank you for coming on this journey with us.

Explore and engage in DEI

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Diversity

The acknowledgment and celebration of different ways in which individuals participate within the community with their own backgrounds, perspectives, life experiences, and held beliefs.

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Belonging

The individual experience in the wider community as acceptance of participation in something larger than themselves, and that every individual has something to contribute to the collective experience.

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Equity

How we meet the needs of the community to ensure that individuals with different needs, resources, and barriers have what they need in order to fully participate. 

A place where anyone who would want to participate would feel welcome, valued; inclusive language and examples when teaching

 

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Inclusion

A behavioral action that is an organizational-wide effort to provide equal participation of opportunities, access, and resources.

Ex. seeing people throughout the organization in leadership positions that represent all the diverse identities in the greater Pacific Northwest.

This committee recognizes that in order to be inclusive, Diversity, Equity and Belonging provide the building blocks for this environment.

 

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Affinity Spaces (AS)

What does Affinity Space (AS) mean when it’s listed on an activity?

Many descriptions of affinity spaces will exceed what can be shared through a title alone

For activities labeled (AS), the description of the affinity space and any links needed to describe it more thoroughly can be found in Activity Notes, following the text Affinity Space (AS):.

To better support both members of non-dominant communities and well-meaning leaders who may not be part of these communities to offer activities, boilerplate Affinity Space (AS) descriptions are required for the Activity Notes. These were created in partnership with members of these communities. 

The available descriptions can be found in the section How to Setup an Activity as an Affinity Space (AS) on this page. To request a new affinity space description, send an email to the DEI Committee and include “affinity space” in the subject line.

 

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Affinity Groups

Affinity groups provide advocacy, support, and structure for community building and education.

  • They support learning environments that more closely meet the individual needs of each participant while also building skills for them to be engaged team members.
  • They support the creation of more opportunities to develop leadership skills within communities where participants feel supported.

Affinity groups help us move toward a more inclusive organization.

 

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Relation to the mission of the Mazamas

The mission of the Mazamas is to inspire everyone to love and protect the mountains and its values are Safety, Education, Volunteerism, Community, Competence, Credibility, Stewardship, and Respect.

The DEI Committee supports the mission and values by helping to foster a broader and deeper understanding and integration of the values within our programs, activities, committees, events, and community (all areas that people may interact with the Mazamas), through feedback, initiatives, and action related to diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging).