On the third Monday of every January we observe the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.This holiday gives many Americans a chance to pause and reflect on the history of our nation and the future we envision for our children and grandchildren.
Not long ago drinking fountains and restrooms were segregated by law. While those laws are thankfully gone, de facto segregation continues in many aspects of our lives: poverty, imprisonment, redlining for insurance, white-only communities, ghettos, and the continuous legal battles over such basics as voting rights.
Today I would like to celebrate four organizations that actively endeavor to reach out to underserved communities to bring them opportunities to connect with nature and learn about the environment. While there are many more I would like to highlight, today I focus on the myth that poor people and people of color cannot/do not love nature and the environment.
"Green Muslims is a source in the Muslim community for spiritually-inspired environmental education, reflection, and action. We engage locally while serving as a national resource.” Green Muslims offers opportunities for knowledge-sharing, community action, and capacity building.
Asian Outdoors sponsors activities which include hiking, biking, canoeing, orienteering, snowboarding, ice skating, rafting, fishing, and more. “In addition to its primary purpose of bringing people together for the enjoyment of the outdoors AO casts a mindful eye on our environment.... By exposing more Asians to these scenic areas, AO hopes to build awareness of and respect for our environment.”
These organizations are but a small representation of the good work many people are engaging in across the nation to connect all people to nature, regardless of their personal circumstances.
Each one of us has the responsibility of fighting injustice wherever we see it. That includes in the realm of access to natural spaces and environmental education and awareness. We can only make progress together if you and I as individuals takes the initiative to right the wrongs. Take that first step now. You will not regret it.