Outsiders: the outdoors is yours
- Outsiders: the Outdoors is Yours by Ollie Olanipekun and Nadeem Perera (Octopus, London, 2022).
- 224 pages, colour photographs, sketches.
- ISBN 9781856754781. Hbk, £16.99 (also available as ebook).
Diversity has recently evolved from being a recognised barrier in the environmental sector to something which is increasingly and actively being tackled. There's been noticeable progress in the past few years, with Flock Together leading the way in rebranding birding from 'a white thing' to a hobby for everyone. Outsiders, written by co-founders Ollie (Olaolu) and Nadeem, presents an empowering, detailed account of their own experiences, interwoven with several key themes, all linking back to the life-changing effect nature has had on their lives.
The six core chapters of the book are embedded within a prologue, introduction, and conclusion. With Ollie and Nadeem documenting chapters in an alternating sequence, they collate stories from their lives, featuring key themes such as racism, mental health and community. Obviously, with Ollie and Nadeem being keen birders and naturalists, birds are at the heart of the book, albeit perhaps slightly less of a focus than expected.
Racism especially is a key component to Outsiders – while evidently a difficult topic to openly discuss, it's arguably used as a means of inspiration. A section on decolonising the environmental sector is one I personally enjoyed, smoothly linking racism with a number of key questions explored throughout. For instance, a section on pets ultimately concludes – 'who owns nature?' Such reflections are successfully done by means of the conversational tone adopted by the authors. Though occasionally dense, the chapters are broken up by sketches and 'In the field' tips, further making all sections easier to follow.
As anticipated, and hoped for, inclusivity was another central theme. The authors were balanced when discussing it – though their focus may have been on racial inequalities in society, diversity was acknowledged in almost all aspects, from socioeconomics to class and beyond.
The book is rich in stories and personal experiences, which though difficult topics in themselves, thus making it far from a relaxed read at times, are tackled in such a way that I felt a positive atmosphere was maintained throughout. This, in addition to being extremely informative and well written, makes Outsiders well worth a read, especially for those truly wanting nature to be accessible for all.