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Pride for the River, Pride for Each Other

Chattahoochee Riverkeeper wants to re-establish the South’s greatest outdoor space as one that is inclusive and welcoming of everyone. The organization’s new Out on the Hooch initiative was created to welcome members of the LGBTQ community and establish opportunities to connect in celebration of the waterway we all share.

“Out on the Hooch will bring together our LGBTQ friends and allies with personal stories about our connection to the Chattahoochee River through recreation,” said CRK Technical Programs Specialist Ashley Desensi, a member of the LGBTQ community and one of the creators of Out on the Hooch. “We want to show that the Chattahoochee River watershed has room for all people to enjoy, and that the LGBTQ community feels safe and included in nature.”

Out on the Hooch launched in June 2021 in honor of Pride Month. It was unveiled both on social media and at the annual ColGayPride festival in Columbus, Ga. CRK partnered with Columbus Gay Pride, a local non-profit organization, to host a booth at the event and introduce the program to festival-goers on-stage.

CRK is working to partner with other LGBTQ non-profits in our watershed to further this initiative – sharing testimonials, hosting a booth at Atlanta Pride and other local events, and promoting inclusivity within the Chattahoochee River basin.

As part of the campaign, which runs June through October, CRK will host cleanups and paddle trips, provide educational opportunities, and create a place to have a conversation about what it means to connect to nature and the river as an LGBTQ person. CRK is also asking social media followers to share their connection to the river using #OutOnTheHooch, as part of an effort to highlight this community’s personal and meaningful stories.

To learn more about this campaign and to get involved, visit www.chattahoochee.org/outonthehooch. This story was originally published in the Summer 2021 edition of RiverCHAT

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