Do White People Care About Diversity in Outdoor Spaces?
“I tend to find a greater sense of calm in racially diverse groups that seem to cultivate an atmosphere of increased tolerance and lowered emotional reactivity.”
Guest Blogger Cindy Hopkins reflects on diversity in the outdoors below:
My husband and I enjoy spending time in our yard. It began simply as exercise and an interest in native plants, but as the landscaping matured, we discovered another wonderful benefit – we had birds! I honestly came to believe that the birds began to “speak” in response to our voices too. Or rather, they sang. The Costa’s hummingbird or the Verdin usually begin a song followed by the Black-Throated Sparrow. All together they create a delightful harmony of sound.
Having a diverse group of birds in the yard also creates a draw for even more bird species to join our “little oasis” where we see warblers and flycatchers flitting among branches, streaky sparrows hopping low in shrubs, and ground nesting California Quails.
Our backyard environment inspires me to contemplate our experience in campgrounds and parks. When my husband and I go camping, we wish we saw more people of color. Like many modern Americans, I have lived in urban areas and am accustomed to a diversity of ethnicities and cultures, but most often do not get to experience this same diversity in the outdoors. My husband and I tend to find a greater sense of calm in racially diverse groups that seem to cultivate an atmosphere of increased tolerance and lowered emotional reactivity.
While it’s so refreshing and rejuvenating to “get away from it all”, I know our outdoor experiences would be even more fulfilling if we were to experience everyone “singing” — just like the birds in our yard.
An important step to saving our natural areas is for everyone to appreciate them. I invite everyone to take a personal sense of ownership over public lands! There are wonderful benefits for us all, and I want more people to know how enriching, stress relieving, and restorative it is to spend time in the wild outdoors. So please consider coming to the mountains, and singing along with the birds!