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NatureBridge works to increase access to our parks and provide safe, inclusive experiences for all of our students. It is central to our mission. But is it enough to increase access? Can we guarantee the safety of our black and brown students beyond the confines of our national park classrooms? Can we say, with confidence, that these are your public lands, that you can experience and enjoy them without fear? That in these spaces you will be regarded and treated equitably?
No, we can not.
Ahmaud Arbery was murdered while going for a jog in his neighborhood. Trayvon Martin was murdered while walking home at night. The police were called on Christian Cooper while he was bird watching in Central Park.
And the death of George Floyd only further cements what black and brown communities have known and experienced since the founding of this nation—that all people are created but not treated equal; that Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness are unalienable Rights for some, not all.
We all must recognize and work to correct systemic racism in this country. We each, on an individual level, must identify our biases and dismantle our racism so we can create a safe and equitable society.
At NatureBridge, we are committed to making the outdoors a safe place for all. We stand in solidarity with those demanding justice for George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery. And we ask you to reflect on your place in this system, to educate yourself and to go beyond empathy to action.
Look to organizations like Outdoor Afro, Latino Outdoors, Youth Outside, Outdoors Alliance for Kids and Black Girls Trekkin’ to better understand the lived experiences of communities of color in the outdoors. Listen, read and watch black stories. Support black-owned businesses. Make a donation. Sign a petition. Call your congressperson. Join a protest. Do something. People are dying.
Nature, as well as our streets and local parks, should be spaces in which all are welcomed, all feel safe, all can breathe. I want to be able for us to promise to all students, particularly to black and brown students, that they will be welcomed back into their national parks, public lands and their own communities after they leave NatureBridge. Recent events, including the murders of George Floyd and Ahmaud Arbery, continue to underscore that would be a promise without a foundation.
That's why I add my financial support and NatureBridge's partnership to these field leaders. NatureBridge joins with the Outdoors Alliance for Kids and other organizations in seeking justice, expanding access to the outdoors for all, raising our voice for equity and asking our supporters to demand the same. Consider learning from and financially supporting outstanding organizations like Outdoor Afro, Youth Outside and OAK.