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Writers Residency Spotlight: Amanda Machado

We're excited to have Amanda join us for our inaugural Writers Residency for underrepresented storytellers!

By: The Outbound Collective + Save to a List

Name: Amanda Machado
Location: Oakland, California
Where to find me: Website | Instagram | Twitter | Blog

What’s your day job?
In addition to my essay writing, I also facilitate workshops on justice and anti-oppression for organizations around the world. In many ways, I don’t see it as a “day job” separate from my writing work, because the conversations I facilitate in these workshops are also a means of sharing stories about power and privilege, and creating space for exploring these topics together.

What first drew you to the outdoors?
Since I was a kid, I always loved being outside -- especially climbing trees around my neighborhood and biking around. But I didn’t fully realize my love of hiking and the more stereotypical forms of “outdoorsiness” until I took a fifteen-month trip around the world when I was twenty-four years old. On that trip, I hiked in the Andes and the Himalayas, learned how to ski in the Alps, and hitchhiked 2,000 miles across Patagonia. That was when I realized how deeply I wanted the outdoors to become an important part of my life.

What are your favorite things to do outside?
Hiking of course, but also: doing yoga on my porch, reading a book beneath a tree, going for hour-long walks across a city, biking, floating in fresh water lakes, finding natural hot springs, paddle-boarding, taking outdoor showers.

What’s your favorite hometown adventure?
In Florida, where I grew up, I loved walking through Lettuce Lake Park at around sunset and watching the Spanish moss hanging from the trees turn pink, and spotting alligators swimming through the cypress trees.

What's on the top of your must-do adventure list right now?
After reading the preamble to the Bolivian constitution, I’d love to go hiking around that country.

What advice would you give to someone who is new to the outdoors?
Reconsider the stories you were told about what “counted” as the “outdoors” and who counted as “outdoorsy.” None of us are really “new” to the outdoors; we may just be new to the way our current society has framed what a relationship to the outdoors should look like.

Who are some writers/photographers/creators who are inspiring you right now?
Rahawa Haile. Michael Estrada. Saidiya Hartman. Jordan Kisner. Bani Amor. Mary Ann Thomas. Bell Hooks. Ocean Vuong. Hanif Abdurraquib. And of course, all my family in my Bay Area writing group: Alan Chazaro, Charisel Parla, Rose Heredia, Hernan De La Cruz Ramos.

This has been a challenging year - how have you managed your physical and mental health? Any tips?

What has helped: starting some days by staying in bed and reading for an hour. Making playlists of music that captures my feelings when words can’t. Listening to famous protest music from Latin America. Admitting that I'm not "sad" all the time, but actually enraged. And, also acknowledging that sometimes, I'm just sad. Wearing my favorite, big, extravagant earrings around the house for no reason at all. Using tiger balm when my muscles are stress-aching, and giving myself foot massages. And, buying flowers. They still keep blooming as if nothing terrible is happening at all.

What does it mean to you to be a part of the outdoor industry and why is it important to make the outdoors more inclusive? 
Black, indigenous and people of color have always been leaders in protecting the earth, and living in right relationship with nature and land. The stories we have traditionally told in the United States about the outdoors simply have not made room for that history. I believe it’s our work today to reclaim that history, and take up space in an industry that too often has erased our stories.

What is the biggest challenge (or challenges) you’ve faced in the outdoors?
Finding genuine community. For far too long, the majority of people I knew interested in the outdoors were straight, cis, white men, and the first framing I learned for how to interact in the outdoors often also came from a fairly toxic masculine, neo-colonial framework of thinking. I’m grateful today for finding organizations like Latino Outdoors, PGMONE, and others that have reframed those ideas for me, made me feel genuinely welcome, and affirmed my specific way of loving being outside.

What’s a fun fact that most people don’t know about you?
I once danced with Dolores Huerta in a queer bar in Los Angeles on Cinco de Mayo :)

What would your personal motto be?
A student in one of my college writing workshops once wrote “Nobody wants to understand the universe. They just want to feel its mad romance.” I don’t know if that’s a motto for myself necessarily, but it’s a sentence I haven’t stopped thinking about ever since. 

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on. Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

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