You Belong At Lindsay

Part II. Inclusion And Equity As Pillars Of Our Growth

Posted on: September 10th, 2020

Sheltering-in-Place Blog Entry #22

 

“Feeling rooted in the earth is soothing to the body, and it is our connection to the earth that gives us our most basic sense of belonging, home, resilience, and safety.” – Jessica Moore

Equity is the fair and just treatment of all members of a community… It is, collectively, a step toward recognizing past exclusion and achieving genuine inclusion.

Inclusion refers to the intentional, ongoing effort to ensure that diverse individuals fully participate in all aspects of organizational work, including decision-making processes. It also refers to the ways that diverse participants are valued as respected members of an organization and/or community. – American Alliance of Museums

 

Houses, cabins, homes. Some of the places where we have lived, felt welcomed, and made friends and memories.

Sometimes I feel a twinge of envy when I hear someone tell stories about their roots, a connection to a place, a home where they have lived most or all of their lives or growing old in the city of their birth. I have never known such a feeling. I have lived in many places, houses I called home—some for woefully short times—but never setting deep roots or building long-running memories.

When I returned to the street where I spent my most memorable time as a child, I did not recognize it. Every bit of it had changed; every house turned into multistoried and walled-in condominiums; every tree replaced by concrete. The only clues that remained were the slope of the street and its name, Mango Street. After we moved out of the old house where I had so many adventures, it has all been a blur of new homes, apartment buildings, cabins in the woods, and research field stations. I have also lived in a 150-year-old log cabin, a house built in the 1920s, and even a single-wide trailer for a short while, all in different states and even other continents. 

It is no wonder that people who travel and move a lot have a hard time settling down and developing a sense of belonging. The population of our country consists mostly of multiple generations of immigrants from around the world, who, uprooted by ambitions or circumstances, traveled and resettled multiple times within their lives. And yet, we all long for a place we can call home, where we feel accepted, valued, appreciated, and sincerely welcomed.

The free Families In Nature program in Catalina Island, CA (here at Little Harbor) offered trips to beautiful places on the Island. It opened to people of all ages and economic levels the nature and wonders of the island they called home. 

Every natural place I have visited or lived nearby has given me a strong sense of belonging, feeding my curiosity, and filling my mind and heart with the thrill of discovery. And I wonder if this feeling, this realization of what ties us all together, no matter where we’re from, is not the essence of what we do at Lindsay and, by extension, what we aspire to do as a modern and thriving society? To give people a sense of belonging and a purpose by sharing our love, knowledge, and determination to protect wildlife and nature.

Nature belongs to everyone, and we all belong to nature. We came from nature, and to nature we return when we feel overwhelmed and weary of the many constructs that we build and that surround us. We wear clothes, move around in enclosed vehicles from one air-conditioned place to another (even at Lindsay, we do this), and we lose touch of how it feels to sleep under the stars and feel your toes nearly freeze in the torrent of a mountain stream. We forget the sensation of a chilly mountain breeze on our bare skin or the sting of wind-blown rain on our cheeks. Many of us cannot recognize a wild animal’s scent, the cold and silky texture of a snake’s skin, or the papery and lightweight feel of a bird’s plumage. Most people can’t distinguish between the calls of a Bald Eagle, a Great Gray Owl, or a White-Tailed Kite; or fathom the speed and persistence of a desert tortoise when she has made up her mind of where she wants to go. 

 

“Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion interact with each other. Each element represents a different piece of the full human experience. Addressing only one or two of these falls short on gaining…the full human experience — a sense of belonging.” Kris Burnett through, Medium. www.krysburnette.com. The diagram highlights the potential negative outcomes where the circles overlap.

Lindsay is a place that allows, facilitates, and encourages people to experience many of these natural moments, some of which become life-long and unforgettable memories. And these treasures of our lives, these moments in close contact with nature and its many wonders, belong to everyone regardless of how much they make, where they live, or where they came from. We want Lindsay to become the place where everyone can mingle with the creatures and their caretakers. A place where people can hear their stories, marvel at the incredible diversity of our state, and go home to continue exploring and learning. Moreover, we want Lindsay to be the place where people from all over the world can gather in person or virtually to experience the connection to nature that every staff person, every volunteer, and hundreds of thousands of visitors feel when they step into this fantastic world.

We believe that providing equal access, opportunities, and full experiences in nature is a human right. Here, people with disabilities worked with an NGO to develop a Universal Access Trail for people of all kinds of abilities.

Human history and cultures are filled with examples of exclusion and inequality. From the early beginnings of the US as a nation and much earlier in the development of several rounds of civilizations, people’s separation by tribes, classes, nationalities, cultures, beliefs, philosophies, and physical attributes have been more the norm rather than the exception. As a diverse society, we live with this history and see it reflected in the media, politics, entertainment, and the rewards that we give each other for work and accomplishments. But I firmly believe that there is one true equalizer in the philosophical sense: our connection to nature. And this connection, available to all people, embracing all cultures and stages in life, regardless of skin color, age, gender, religion, political affiliation, or nationality, can give Lindsay a special status among organizations that celebrate our connection to nature. We have set a goal to bring diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility to our governing board, our staff, our volunteer corps, and our visitors so they all feel welcomed equally and lovingly. 

Lindsay can be the home where anyone can come to experience a sense of belonging in society and nature.

Dr. Carlos L. de la Rosa
Executive Director

LINK: Resources
https://www.aam-us.org/programs/resource-library/diversity-equity-accessibility-and-inclusion-resources/

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