Making nature more inclusive for all.
Do you feel welcomed in the Fox Cities?
When asked this question, many of our BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, & People of Color) neighbors frown and say “no.”
These answers point to why we in the Fox Cities—former sundown towns built on Menominee ancestral land—have work to do. And while much attention has been given to the work that must be done on equity in governance and policing, less has been given to the parallel work needed in the outdoors.
At a time when the area’s BIPOC population is growing and more and more people are coming out as queer and transgender, we need to recognize that those members make up a large portion of our neighbors. Unfortunately, many of them don’t enjoy our public outdoor spaces as easily or as much as they would like to.
People right here in our Fox Cities are missing out on the cultural connections, soul-rejuvenating joy, and numerous health benefits of being outdoors. Hmong people are still dealing with the racist fallout of the Chai Vang incident and Covid-19; Hispanic people lack resources in their native language and are scolded for speaking Spanish in public; Black people worry about having police called on them for something as innocent as barbecuing; and gay couples fear harassment for holding hands.
"Some of the most heartbreaking things I’ve heard are from our children, like a queer youth of color who said in a focus group, 'Sometimes in parks… people are looking at me… and like give me weird stares and they’ll come up and talk to me like ‘Hey, this isn’t your country’ and I’m like ‘that isn’t your thing to decide' or a Black youth who said, 'People just call me ‘monkey’ all the time. I really got used to it, but I’m not supposed to.'"
No inclusion initiative can erase the trauma of hateful attacks or the long history of exclusion that has led up to this moment, but we can seize the opportunity to build on the progress of past decades and make sure that our communities live up to their full potential.
To learn how you can become involved in this initiative, email Kyle Armstrong, project director.
Made possible by a grant from the Community Vision Fund within the Community Foundation for the Fox Valley Region, Inclusion in the Outdoors is our opportunity to lower barriers and create a Fox Cities region where 100% of people feel equally welcomed in our outdoor spaces.