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Meet the Leaders Making Nature More Accessible


Amor, Haile, and Varela

It's easy to assume that most of us have regular access to some form of nature, even if we don't utilize that access. There are city parks and public beaches, hiking trails and sledding hills, rocks to climb and fields in which to lie under the stars. But the reality is that outdoor recreation is inaccessible to large portions of the U.S. population—particularly low-income communities and communities of color. This is true for a variety of reasons: Urban and industrial development has led to fewer forests and wetlands; air and water pollution are concentrated in low-income areas; and local and national parks can be unwelcoming to visitors of color and inaccessible to those without cars or those with disabilities. And what the Center for American Progress calls "the nature gap" erases the histories of Indigenous Americans and makes places that everyone should be able to enjoy out of reach for too many.

The writings, teachings, and activism of Jolie Varela, Rahawa Haile, and Bani Amor collectively consider the ideal of the great outdoors and illustrate the importance of equitable access. We recently listened in as these thoughtful educators discussed what nature can tell us about our history—and our future.

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