The recent racist incidents where members of black communities, including Christian Cooper and Ahmaud Arbery, have been threatened, put into danger, assaulted, and killed in outdoor spaces have shed even more light on how the outdoors is a key area for social justice reform in our country. As an organization who is passionate about the far reaching benefits that outdoor access has for the health and wellbeing of people and communities, we are deeply saddened that the long-standing systemic racism in our country has made the outdoors a place where so many people of color feel unsafe and unwelcome. The Children’s Forest is committed to using our privilege, power, and voice to dismantle the systems of oppression keeping marginalized communities from accessing the outdoors. We stand in solidarity with people of color and vow to work towards rebuilding a more just and equitable world where all people can thrive.
The outdoor sector is long overdue for listening to voices of the black community and other marginalized groups about their experiences in the outdoors. We’ve shared several articles from members of the black community as a way to learn more.
Source Weekly’s Outside Guide: On Sanctuary by Judith Sadora
By no means is Central Oregon immune to these issues. We are part of a coalition of partners that recently conducted listening sessions with 36 members of the Latinx community and their experiences in the outdoors. What stood out the most for our organization was the complexity of emotions and fears that can come up around any outing for Latinx folks here in Central Oregon. If you are having a hard time understanding how white privilege translates in the outdoors, please read these resources and others, so that we can all work towards being better allies.
Listening and learning from people of color about their experiences in the outdoors is a big part of our work in helping to make outdoor spaces more inclusive and equitable in Central Oregon, but this needs to come along with action. Our staff, board members, and partner organizations know that effective allyship means weaving equity and anti-racism work into every part of our organization. It informs our decision-making, our programs, our funding, our partnerships, and our communication. We’ll be here when the news cycle moves on. We’ll continue to learn and stand in solidarity with black communities and other marginalized groups.
The Children’s Forest of Central Oregon staff