Until the lion learns to write, the tale of the hunt will glorify the hunter ~ African Proverb
When I was collage-age I doubt that I would have had the poise or presence of mind to speak to a cabinet member of a sitting President. The students who met with U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell carried themselves with a level of confidence and conviction that I couldn’t help but admire. Gathered in Washington DC to share their experiences after summer internships at various National Park units across the country these young people affirmed for me my sincere belief in the power of storytelling and the vital importance of personal narrative.
Sitting there in a new shirt and necktie purchased for the occasion two days earlier I listened with rapt attention. The students, members of a program created by the Greening Youth Foundation, recounted to Secretary Jewell their thoughts and impressions of their time spent in service to National Park sites at the Statue of Liberty, the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone and the U.S. Capitol. Each of them shared their sincere appreciation for the opportunity to be directly involved and engaged in the preservation of these historic monuments. And as young people of color they made it clear that there are opportunities to interpret the stories of our national heritage in ways that are more relevant and accessible to those whom history so often neglects.
Having spent much of the last few years telling stories of historical figures who have helped to shape the modern National Park System I am excited to see so many students seeking out and even creating stories of their own. Working in partnership with colleagues at the Center For Humans & Nature in Chicago the Joy Trip Project is pleased to announce a series of stories written by young people that relate their personal experiences in the natural world. To be published in the journal Minding Nature starting in 2017 we will collect and curate these stories in order to give students a voice in the ongoing narrative of environmental protection.
“Can we be thoughtful stewards of the Earth without truly understanding that our storylines privilege certain experiences of places, but omit others? “ wrote Minding Nature editor Anja Claus. “One hope towards more thoughtful stewardship is to look to the next generation of diverse voices: voices with fresh perspectives who can help us to re-imagine our relationship to each other and to place; voices who are looking for welcoming spaces to share their stories.”
Inspired by the incredible efforts of the Greening Youth Foundation, which nurtures values of environmental protection in underserved and under represented communities, it is our hope that we might establish a forum from which we can speak to future generations. Seeking out young people from institutions of higher learning who are dedicated to creating systems of sustainable stewardship we aspire to introduce and engage the voices of talented young women and men who have gone unheard for far too long.
“I am thrilled about our collaboration with the Minding Nature team. A journal that provides a platform for young people to express their thoughts about the importance of environmental protection is brilliant,” said Greening Youth CEO and founder Angelou Ezeilo. “I’ve worked for so long to connect diverse youth to the outdoors; however, the experiences these young people are having in the outdoors are often unseen by others. I am sure the students are going to be thrilled to know there voices will finally be heard!”
We are looking to engage university students to submit essays to the free, on-line journal, Minding Nature. The journal’s goal is to share ideas on conservation values and the practice of ecological citizenship. Minding Nature is published tri-annually, in January, May, and September. In each issue we will invite 2 students to each submit a 1000-2000 word essay sharing their perspective on the connections of identity, place, and nature. It is our hope that we might begin a deeper discussion of issues related to environmental protection and land management that are infinitely more diverse and inclusive.
The Greening Youth/Minding Nature Initiative is a partnership to encourage a national dialog on issues of diversity and inclusion in the modern conversation movement. For more information write to firstname.lastname@example.org
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