Justice in Access to the Outdoors

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Spring landscape. Moth flying near a clover flower. Blurred background.

 

"Nature is an established social determinant of health with clear benefits to physical, mental, and social health, yet it continues to be used as a setting for violence against Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC)" write Kelly D. Taylor, José G. González, and Nooshin Razani in this article published in the Parks Stewardship Forum. 

"The racism and structural violence that prevents outdoor recreation has resulted in decades of health inequities," Taylor et al. state. To move forward, Taylor et al. look to how community-based efforts have supported healthcare approaches that "move from 'trauma informed' to 'healing centered.'"

The EE community can play a role here; Taylor et al. question how the study of nature is frequently restricted to science education and suggest: "If our goal is true healing, we need to acknowledge that the human relationship with nature throughout history exceeds what is described in natural science models." 

Other relevant recommendations include addressing beyond access to nature. Taylor et al. call for organizations to "acknowledge that you cannot truly enjoy nature when you are not allowed to own your presence in it, have your role in it valued, play and recharge in it in culturally relevant ways."

To provide welcoming spaces, Taylor et al. suggest local collaboration:

"Rather than create programming for people, the nature and health community should partner with BIPOC-led community-based organizations and programs for equitable co-creation of applicable studies and program design. We should start the process with a genuine curiosity of what is already known in BIPOC communities about nature and healing. That will require listening and a willingness to increase understanding of how different communities wish to interact with nature." 

Finally, Taylor et al. recommend shifting from a deficit model to a strength model. "Measurements of health can include positive outcomes, and not just a lack of negative outcomes. We need to establish methods to measure and capture community joy, healing, and resilience, in addition to addressing the negative outcomes stemming from the struggles we face," conclude Taylor et al.

The full article is available here, and is published with fantastic collages from José González, founder of Latino Outdoors.