In March 2016 a group of environmental activists came together to share a vision. Gathered from across the country this eclectic mix of men and women came to Washington D.C. in order to collaborate on the creation of a plan to protect and preserve the natural spaces of the United States for future generations. As our National Park Service celebrates its 100th anniversary the group aims to make it possible for those in our society least likely to spend time in the outdoors to become passionate stewards of our public land well into the 21st century and beyond. Called the Next 100 Coalition this dynamic assembly of leaders is telling the stories of African-American, Latino, Asian and Native American people of color who have long enjoyed a history and legacy of conservation.
As a member of the Next 100 Coalition, Dr. Carolyn Finney is helping to define a new vision of conservation that will carry us into the future. In the sincere belief that sustainable land management requires the cooperation and participation of all the American people Dr. Finney has crafted a compelling narrative that details the rich cultural heritage of our past while celebrating the great opportunities we enjoy today to build a brighter tomorrow. In this moment she wants us to realize that now is the time to set aside all that had divided us in the past in order to make a better world for the millions of children who will one day inherit the land we leave behind.
I had the pleasure of speaking with Dr. Finney recently in Washington D.C. and she shared with me her wonderful vision of the future in an essay called This Moment. Addressing the potential lives of children born eight years ago at the begining of the administration of President Barack Obama, Finney details a series of challenges and opportunities to make proactive change in the decades which still lie before us.
“What we can do in this moment is work to change the nature of the next moment. What
we can do in this moment is to remember, learn, fight, stand and expand who we are and
who we might become,” she said. “In 2008, 4,247,694 babies were born (in the U.S.). And no matter the color of their hands, they will be reaching for grass, dirt and dreams and we will need all their love and fight and possibility.”
Dr. Finney is the author of the book Black Faces White Spaces: Reimagining the Relationship of African Americans to the Great Outdoors. She is a professor geography at the University of Kentucky and you can follow her work online at CarloynFinney.com
This edition of the Joy Trip Project Podcast is part of the New Century Vision Project and is made possible with the support of our partner Choose Outdoors. Find out how you can get connected to our public lands through outdoor recreation at ChooseOutdoors.org. #inclusivevision4next100
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