Feeling A Sense of Belonging Outdoors: Chosen Confluence

Last year, Jalen Bazile, Rachel Olzer, Evan Green and Adam Pawlikiewicz embarked on a bikepacking and climbing trip in Colorado as a chance to reflect on the Black experience within the cycling community. Chosen Confluence is a short film directed by Evan Green that follows Jalen and Rachel on their ups and downs throughout the trip, focusing on why shared experiences are a powerful tool on the way to feeling like you belong.

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A common theme throughout articles on our Journal is the sense of belonging most of us feel when cycling – either socially or when we’re alone together. When you are able to ride with people from a similar background and share a similar story and experience, you develop a sense of belonging that translates to every ride. Even alone, the shared experience of riding with our peers means our struggles and our joy are shared and easier to bear and celebrate.

It’s easy to take for granted the wonderful sense of community we feel and forget that there is always more we can do to make the outdoors accessible and welcoming for everyone.

“The best way to get to know someone is on a bike and camping because you can’t hide! On a bike you get to suffer together, you get to laugh together, you get to go uphill and downhill together,” says Jalen at the start of Chosen Confluence.

The shared experience is one of the central themes of Evan Green’s film, not just the shared experience of cycling – but the shared experience of being able to ride with people who have shared your same struggles and barriers to entry.

“I had never experienced a ride with other Black and brown riders in Florissant, an area that was such a home for me,” says Jalen. “I’d always wanted to feel a stronger sense of belonging there and because of Adam, Evan, and Rachel, it was happening.”

Throughout the film, Rachel and Jalen talk about the importance of people of colour and other marginalised groups being able to take up space in the outdoors, and how others can help empower this to happen. “Taking time to learn and listen to the needs of your local community is a great first step. From there I think it’s important to provide support through grants, donations, and putting your unique skillset to use,” says Evan.

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