Dear Environmental and Outdoor Education Community,
This week has brought quite a rollercoaster of emotions. I feel hopeful and full of excited anticipation for our spring conference and all the enthusiasm we’re seeing around Earth Day (check out www.dearplanetearth.org to participate in an inspiring and uplifting project encouraging messages of hope for our planet!). That excitement has been tempered by the range of feelings brought forth by the verdict announced in George Floyd’s murder. As a white woman, I can only begin to imagine what it has been like to be Black in this country waiting on this verdict. I do know what it’s been like as a mom and an educator, trying to prepare myself to come up with adequate words to describe to my kids why our system failed its citizens...again. I didn’t even realize I had been holding my breath until I felt the sense of relief that flooded me when I got to have a different kind of conversation, one of hope, of accountability. This is just one moment, one verdict, but I sure hope it marks a sea of change. As you celebrate Earth Day this year – planting trees, picking up litter in your neighborhood, removing invasive species, or pledging to decrease your reliance on disposable plastic products and fossil fuels, please consider taking a moment of silence for George Floyd and for all the other people whose lives and dignity have been robbed from them because of the deeply entrenched racism in our society. I hope that this verdict is just the beginning. That we will continue to work together towards accountability and justice. Because what is the purpose of working towards a sustainable future if that world doesn’t include all of us? If we aren’t addressing the intersectionality of environmental education and environmental justice, of climate change and racial justice – in both our personal lives and professional work, we’re not doing it right, we’re not moving towards progress as a nation and a society the way we should be, the way we need to for all of our young people. So today, as you celebrate the beauty that is our planet, I hope you’ll join me in continuing to ask yourself this question: What are you doing in your life to work towards a more just and equitable world?
Estrella, AEOE Executive Director