June 5, 2020
Dear Osprey Wilds Community,
George Floyd’s murder at the hands of police was a tragic act of injustice, and we feel and acknowledge the pain, anger, and frustration that our country and community have been experiencing. Drastic change is long overdue. The loss of life in our state: Jamar Clark, Philando Castile, George Floyd; in our country: Atatiana Jefferson, Eric Reason, Eric Garner, Trayvon Martin, Dominique Clayton, Breonna Taylor, who would be celebrating her 27 birthday today; and so many others—those covered in the media, and those among the countless untold stories are proof of this. Osprey Wilds offers our support for the Black Lives Matter movement. We acknowledge that Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) face racial discrimination in our society and throughout our institutions—including environmental and educational systems.
Osprey Wilds’s mission is to instill a connection and commitment to the environment in people of all communities through experiential learning. However, we have not done enough as an organization to ensure all communities have the same opportunities and abilities to achieve this. As an environmental learning center, we need to address the issues within our education and environmental institutions that go directly against what we are striving to achieve as an organization.
As educators have known for years, issues of inequity and disparity are not new for our community. Governor Walz reiterated this point in a recent press conference, saying: “Minnesota consistently ranks highly for our public schools, innovation and opportunity, and happiness – if you’re white. If you’re not, the opposite is true. Systemic racism must be addressed if we are to secure justice, peace, and order for all Minnesotans.” But what changes are being made? We work with thousands of students from district, private, charter, and homeschool communities. How can we be more inclusive and equitable?
As we push ourselves to examine these questions in our education systems, we also need to examine and acknowledge the lack of diversity and inclusion in outdoor spaces, hiking trails, parks, careers in conservation, and environmental policy. We cannot instill a connection and commitment to the environment in people of all communities when incidents of discrimination in outdoor spaces are frequent, and traumatic events, like those that Christian Cooper experienced in Central Park while birdwatching, are still occurring.
Osprey Wilds is committed to fight for the dismantling of systemic racism in our spheres of work and influence—education and environmentalism. We will start by forming a Diversity and Inclusion Committee that will guide us as we look to allocate our resources and time to advance our mission to truly support all communities, examine staff and board member recruitment and retention, explore equity, diversity, and inclusion training for all employees, board members and our stakeholders, and develop additional ways to ensure that progress is sustained into our organization’s future.
We won’t be perfect, and we will make mistakes; however, we are committed to this process within ourselves and our organization and are ready to commit to these ongoing efforts. We will be updating our community as this work continues. As an organization led by white people, it is on us to educate ourselves and our community about racial injustice and its intersection with the environment, advocate for change and elevate BIPOC perspectives. Below you will find a list of resources that we are using to educate ourselves. This list is noncomprehensive, and we will continue to add to the page with additional materials.
We look forward to endeavoring this work together and appreciate your support.
Bryan Wood, Executive Director
Don Verbick, Board President
Emily Porter, Education Director
Erin Anderson, Director of Charter School Authorizing
Jill Rudolph, Operations Director
Jim De Young, Development Director
If you have resources you would like to add to our list, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
A Letter to My Nephew by James Baldwin, The Progressive magazine
A Threat to Justice Everywhere blog from the National Parks Conservation Association
Being black while in nature: ‘You’re an endangered species’ by Poppy Noor, the Guardian
Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
Black Environmentalists Talk About Climate and Anti-Racism by Somini Sengupta, New York Times
Environmental Justice: Solar Needs to Lead by Eric Pasi, IPS Solar
Environmentalism’s Racist History by Jedediah Purdy, New York Times
From Outrage to Justice by Michael Brune, Sierra Club
Intersectional Environmentalism: Why Environmental Justice Is Essential For A Sustainable Future by Leah Thomas, The Good Trade
Making outdoor recreation more inclusive: Interview with Outdoor Afro’s Antoine Skinner by Michael A. Estrada
The Melanin Base Camp Guide to Outdoor Allyship by Danielle Williams, The Melanin Base Camp
These Black nature lovers are busting stereotypes, one cool bird at a time by AJ Willingham, CNN
Why Race Matters When We Talk About the Environment by Lauren Reid interviewing Dr. Robert Bullard