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Modern-day 'Green Book' to help all people find safe spaces

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Posted at 3:13 PM, Feb 27, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-28 09:54:16-05

COLORADO SPRINGS — As we continue to celebrate Black History Month, News 5 wants to spotlight an effort to make Colorado more inclusive.

Back in the 1930s, a Black postal worker named Victor Hugo Green published “The Negro Motorist Green Book." A travel guide that listed services and accommodations where African-Americans were welcome, including hotels, motels, gas stations, liquor stores, and hair salons. The Green Book stopped publication in 1967 after the Civil Rights Act was passed.

"The original Green Book was developed in response to segregation, Jim Crow era, and Black people not knowing which places were safe. A lot of people think it was just for the south, but that's not the case. In the south, it was clearly marked if a place was segregated or didn't allow Black people to visit but when you went up north or out west, those places weren't clearly marked or represented," said Parker McMullen Bushman, Co-Founder of the Inclusive Guide.

McMullan Bushman along with Crystal Egli are now creating their own version of the Green Book called, "The Inclusive Guide."

"Crystal and I both come from a conservation background. Working outdoors and in outdoor recreation, Crystal previously worked for Colorado Parks and Wildlife. I was Vice President at Wildlife Pavilion over wildlife education, and crystal was a hunter through her series with CPW called "My First Big Game Hunt." As she was getting mentored through her hunting journey, she started to have a few questions when she thought about being a Black woman with a gun going onto public lands. She started to get worried about her safety. She started to ask questions about this, and some of the responses she got were what are the things that make you feel unsafe, and where is the data that shows it might be an issue. She did do her own research and discovered there was no data, " said McMullan Bushman.

She wished there was a resource to help her identify places she could feel safe as she planned her next trip. That's when the pair started to develop The Inclusive Guide. A new customer review website that ranks businesses not just on their service, but their welcoming nature to diverse cultures.

"In our modern-day, we see that it is needed more than ever before, and not just for Black people. We're starting to become aware of unconscious bias and how microaggressions could affect and impact their experiences. Even as we're having this national conversation about those things, and as people are learning, they still would like to have that data to understand who's really being affected and the incidents that are happening. We may or may not know that there is an issue, and we might be a business that does want to be welcoming to everyone but we may not have the data to understand that some customers are being impacted," said McMullan Bushman.

Their guide will now gather data from their users to help businesses gain a better understanding of their customer's comfort level.

"People go on, make a profile, and they start to rate businesses, but what's a little bit different is we're gathering identify data (ethnicity, sexual orientation, disability). So we can have an understanding of the customers who are out there. Users come on, create their identity profile, and they start to rate businesses, and they rate them on whether or not they felt safe, celebrated, and welcomed within those spaces," said McMullan Bushman.

One Colorado Springs business already a part of the guide is Poor Richards.

"People come, have meetings, they make themself at home. During Katrina, we had this place taken over by refugees," said Richard Skorman.

Skorman says he always set out to create a welcoming business, especially for women.

Something that the founders of the Inclusive Guide want to see more of in the state.

"This modern take of the Green Book is for modern people. That when they go into a place they'll get what they need," said McMullen Bushman.

Those interested in the Inclusive Guide can visit the website here.