Celebrate Earth Day: Work for Environmental Justice
The outdoors is inextricably woven into Camp Fire’s inception, history and goals for the future. Similarly, social justice is undeniably tied to environmental justice: We live in the environment, we share in the environment. What we do to, with and for the environment we do to, with and for each other.
One of Camp Fire’s five strategic commitments is to promote environmental stewardship and action. We know we can’t be good stewards of our environment without another of our commitments: Advance diversity, equity, inclusion and access. We are committed to protecting our environment for everyone and enabling access to outdoor spaces for all.
Just like we integrate DEI work into our daily activities, Camp Fire integrates lessons about environmental stewardship into our programming, from the big issues (carbon footprints, climate change, food insecurity) to the local (daily conservation practices, caring for local natural spaces, working in community gardens). We also have a partnership with Leave No Trace that helps us teach their Seven Principles for leaving a minimum impact when visiting outdoor areas.
Want to get more involved in environmental justice issues? Learn how to better steward the natural spaces around you? Find ways to extend outdoor access to more people?
Here are three things you can do this month to celebrate Earth Day and make some environmental justice moves:
1. Learn about the nature gap
- Read friend-of-Camp-Fire Quincy Henry’s Q&A blog post on environmental justice and Campfire Coffee’s efforts to make outdoor access more equitable in his community. “We want to eliminate cultural and financial barriers for people,” says Quincy. “We’ve set up a non-profit organization Campfire Explorers Club and our big picture vision with it is to ignite outdoor recreation in underserved communities by leveraging the ‘second use’ or ‘reuse’ economy.”
- Did you know 74 percent of nonwhite people in the United States live in a “natured deprived” area (safe, nearby outdoor areas with clean water, clean air and wildlife)? Only 23 percent of white communities are nature deprived. Read this study by the Center for American Progress and the Hispanic Access Foundation to dive deep into the causes of this inequality (long-term racism, violent displacement, systematic segregation, and more) and suggestions for how to improve safe outdoor access for BIPOC, LGBTQ, disabled and low-income communities.
- Learn from Dr. Camara Phyllis Jones’s lecture, Dismantling Racism in the Children and Nature Movement, from last year’s Inside-Out Leadership Summit, put on by the Children & Nature Network. “The four key messages I hope you take home are: Racism exists. Racism is a system. Racism saps the strength of the whole society. And we can act to dismantle racism,” Dr. Jones says.
2. Find a safe Earth Day 2021 activity near you.
- Join three days of climate action (April 20-22) at EarthDay.org, including online summits and awareness building.
- Search for an Earth Day event in your city or choose an every day environmental action you can take to celebrate.
- Encourage the kids in your life to express their environmental vision through art with the Children & Nature Network’s Nature Future online gallery. Submissions are open until April 30.
3. Talk to the kids in your life about environmental justice.
- Use outdoor time and Earth Day activities to have a deeper back-and-forth about who has access to natural spaces. The Children & Nature Network has curated an extensive collection of resources to help guide nuanced, age-appropriate conversations about the interconnected topics of racism, able-ism, inequitable access to nature, and climate change.