Nature Center Hosts Talks About Racism and the Environment

Brushwood Center at Ryerson Woods hosted a virtual workshop series with an adult cohort and a youth cohort about environmental inequality.

The purpose of the workshop series, Collaborative Conversations: Anti-Racism and The Environment, was to help adults and youth identify local opportunities for anti-racist environmental actions and advocacy (e.g., fundraising, contacting local elected officials, etc.) and understand how racism impacts the environmental experiences of Black and Brown people.

Racism and the environment intersect in many ways, said Dani Abboud, manager of community programs and partnerships at Brushwood Center. They said environmental racism is the unequal distribution of environmental burdens and environmental harms, including the pollution of air, soil, and water.

The Brushwood Center even acknowledges that natural areas, parks and preserves are often not safe or accessible places for Black and Brown communities because of over-policing, racial profiling within green spaces, institutional bias, and other systemic injustices.

Additionally, not many people are aware of the intersecting of racism and the environment, Abboud said.

"A lot of people have asked, 'What does racism have to do with the environment?'" they added. "It was expected to have that reaction. It's part of why we wanted to have the conversation." That reaction also included "a couple of negative emails," they said.

Catherine Game, the Executive Director of Brushwood Center at Ryerson Woods, said the success of the Collaborative Conversations series has caused her to consider monthly conversations for youth.

The series for the adult cohort happened on Jan. 14, Jan. 21 and Jan 28. The series for the youth cohort of 16- to 21-year-olds took place on Feb. 11, and Feb. 18 and Feb. 25. To learn more about these events, visit Brushwood Center's event page.

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