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Black Lives Matter to Nearby Nature

Nearby Nature stands in solidarity with the Black community and the Black Lives Matter movement, demanding an end to systemic racism. We are deeply disturbed by the ongoing tragic losses of Black lives across the country and resolve to reflect on institutional biases at Nearby Nature and examine how they have contributed to racism in our community. 

Progress toward achieving Nearby Nature’s goal of connecting people all ages, backgrounds, and communities with nature nearby requires that systemic racism be acknowledged and addressed in concrete ways. Black people, indigenous people, and other people of color have historically been made unwelcome in many parks and natural areas. Limiting any group’s access to the benefits of nature harms everyone in our community. Nearby Nature is committed to listening to, learning from, and partnering with communities of color in order to change systems of inequity, as well as to ensure safe, accessible, and welcoming parks and natural areas for all. Since the fall of 2020, Nearby Nature staff have been participating in our local NAACP’s Health Committee. For the summer of 2021, we  helped plan and will be part of a series of outdoor events featuring healthy time in nature nearby for BIPOC community members and allies, June 24-27. We look forward to this and other future partnerships our local NAACP.

Educating without bias begins with self-reflection. Systemic racism can only be dismantled if we take a closer look at the services we provide, how we provide them, who receives them, who has a voice in our organization, and if all of these in combination adequately reflect and equitably serve our community. As an organization, we dedicate ourselves to identifying the roles we play in upholding systems of oppression, taking anti-racist actions to help dismantle these systems, and implementing a process of ongoing evaluation to assess our progress.

This statement is a commitment to ongoing action. As of summer 2020, we started in on a plan of action that includes a regular review of our curricula, enhanced staff and volunteer training, improved outreach to communities of color, and regular updates on our anti-racism work. We welcome your input and participation in this journey. Please contact us at info@nearbynature.org if you would like to be involved.

— Nearby Nature’s Board of Directors (Samara Phelps, Kirsten Haugen, Salmon Norgaard-Stroich, Cynthia Waters, and Holly Hartmann) and Executive Director Beth Stein