Mercy M’fon Shammah

In 2017, Mercy M’fon Shammah observed that the wilderness in the Pacific Northwest is segregated along lines of race and social class, and decided to do something about it.

Mercy M'fon ShammahShe launched a $6,000 Go Fund Me campaign for what would become Wild Diversity, a Portland-based nonprofit, to help get queer folk and people of color out into the forest in the way that feels the best for them.

“I want to help be a part of the much needed diversity in the wild ... to be a facilitator of healing and growth for people who have a variety of needs from the forest. I want to see more queers and POC in the upper echelon of outdoorists in the world,” she said.
Two years later, Wild Diversity is thriving and growing as a nonprofit dedicated to elevating BIPOC (black and indigenous people and all people of color) and LGBTQ community in the outdoors.

Mercy and her crew lead monthly nature tours and adventures that participants pay for on a sliding scale, including tours for BIPOC youth, LGBTQ youth, and low income youth. Because the equipment necessary to stay comfortable and safe can be expensive, Wild Diversity offers a gear library to make outdoor exploration more financially accessible.

In 2019, Wild Diversity is partnering with the Venture Out Project and Queer Nature to co-host the Resilience Conference, a five-day immersion in decolonizing outdoor education for people of color and the LGBTQ communities.

With Wild Diversity, Mercy is building community for herself and others. She is also deliberately centering the people who are often pushed to the margins, rendered invisible, or tokenized, placing them front-and-center as leaders and participants. It’s working, getting people out into the wilderness that should be everybody’s to enjoy, and rediscovering a sense of stewardship in the land.


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