Woods and Us envisions a world where nature’s lessons, beauty, nourishment, love, and strength are accessible to ALL people.
Race and income are the two most significant factors blocking equitable access to nature and its health benefits. Marginalized populations often live in cities or urban settings where they are more likely to be denied regular access to wilderness areas and green spaces like local parks and urban trails.
Therefore, the primary aim of Inclusive Woods and Us is to increase equitable access to the outdoors for children, families, and communities of people of color in lower socioeconomic standing as a way to improve the physical, mental and spiritual health of vulnerable populations.
To amplify the call of nature that lives within each of us by sharing stories, providing programming, organizing expeditions, and supporting outdoors exploration and discovery for marginalized communities
Since the pandemic began, time spent in nature has played an increasingly vital role in many people’s lives: It’s helped us feel more connected and offered a revitalizing reprieve from time spent indoors. But while the pandemic has emphasized the importance of interacting with nature, it’s also renewed the spotlight on the privilege attached to having easy access to it. For those who don’t live close to quality parks or who experience racial injustice outdoors, among other barriers, getting outside may not be an option.
In late August, REI Co-op President and CEO Eric Artz hosted a virtual chat about the importance of recreation amid the pandemic with Lucienne Nicholson, executive director and founder of Inclusive Woods and Us, and Marcos Trinidad, center director at the Audubon Center at Debs Park in Los Angeles. (Both organizations are nonprofit partners of REI.) During the conversation, Lucienne and Marcos shared how the pandemic has shifted the ways they approach involving people in nature; the challenges faced by BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and People of Color) communities outdoors; and what brands like REI can do to make the outdoors a more equitable place to recreate. Read on for highlights from the discussion and to learn more about Lucienne and Marcos. Click on the video for the full discussion.
To support organizations like Inclusive Woods and Us and the Audubon Center at Debs Park amid the COVID-19 pandemic, consider making a donation to the REI Outdoor Emergency Fund.
Executive Director and Founder, Inclusive Woods and Us
As you think about the challenges we face as a country—environmental justice, social justice, racial justice—what would you like to see from organizations like REI?
“… I have access myself today. I have an automobile. I still don’t feel safe to go just anywhere in America just because I can go to REI and buy my gear. I am a member. I can buy my own gear, drive my own car and get my own cabin. But what does it all mean if I’m going to be unsafe? So the safety issue is a big block to the access. That has to be addressed. Our human rights are being violated. We are contained … because we cannot move where we want to when we need to. … I watched the other fireside chat where we were addressing environmental policy. I am glad to hear about all the jobs that are coming. It’s fantastic that we are going to restore the environment. But for whom? Can I go? Can I go safely? I’m not just asking to be trained better, to have more people who look like me in Rochester to be trained better. What I’m asking REI through policy making, through relationships in Washington, relationships at the state level, relationships at the regional level is to help people...
Read the full article HERE
At Recreational Equipment, Inc. (REI) we believe a life outdoors is a life well-lived.
We believe that it’s in the wild, untamed and natural places that we find our best selves, so our purpose is to awaken a lifelong love of the outdoors, for all.
Since 1938, we have been your local outdoor co-op, working to help you experience the transformational power of nature. We bring you top-quality gear and apparel, expert advice, rental equipment, inspiring stories of life outside and outdoor experiences to enjoy alone or share with your friends and family. And because we have no shareholders, with every purchase you make with REI, you are choosing to steward the outdoors, support sustainable business and help the fight for life outside.
So whether you’re new to the outdoors or a seasoned pro, we hope you’ll join us.
Lucienne Nicholson is many things: a mother, an immigrant, a hiker, an enthusiastic gardener, a beach lover, and a wholehearted admirer of nature and its power to heal. She is also the founder of Inclusive Woods and Us, a Rochester, New York-based nonprofit officially established in 2019 to “increase equitable access to the outdoors for children, families, and communities of people of color in lower socioeconomic standing as a way to improve the physical, mental and spiritual health of vulnerable populations.” Her deep love of the natural world began as a child in Haiti and has sustained her through many life challenges – including losing access to the outdoors as a teenage immigrant – and inspired her endeavor to share nature with others.
Your support and contributions will enable us to meet our goals and improve conditions. Your generous donation will fund our mission.