It’s been three years since we were able to gather in person for a Nature Forward Taking Nature Black Conference, so this year was bound to be special, extra-special! And it was. With two virtual days, and two in person days, I gathered with hundreds of environmentalists from around the region to share in uplifting our stories of Belonging – the conference’s theme.
I was grateful to provide a welcome on Friday and moderate the panel, Belonging: What Healing and Wholeness Might Look Like. I also was honored to give a keynote Thursday evening titled: The Environment: A Love Story and a Reason to Say Their Names. My speech was peppered with spoken word, traditional poems, and snippets of songs. An opening excerpt laid the foundation for the connection between what’s traditionally thought of as the environment and what scientists, Indigenous people and healers have come to understand is the real environment — all of us, humans, plants, animals, insects, waterways, air, and land. We’re all elements of nature and the environment, and, as such, and how we treat each other morally manifests materially, so we’d be wise to treat nature, which includes us, imperially, serially.
And this is where Say Their Names comes in. Say Their Names, on its face, is about 7-year-old Aliya’s quest to create a love-inspired movement in response to the George Floyd murder and protests. And with that, we’re surely blessed, the child met the test. Yet with a closer look, I must confess. Aliya reveals the 5 things we need to change the game not only to save lives from police and racial violence. She gives us the blueprint to save lives in the so-called natural world and helps us understand, like the scientists, how they/we are inextricably tied.
Aliya’s Blueprint includes these 5 Elements:
- Recognize that we’re in a love story – Give Mother Nature the glory.
- Gather our gifts – such as courage, hope, truth, and let it be swift. Gather our gifts of friends, family, community. Peace, grace, and unity — Gather our gifts and left it be swift.
- Tap into the one super-power that can change the game at any hour – LOVE.
- Become peerless when it comes to being fearless.
- Fight – All day, all night, harder and smarter until we get it right
I’ve created an entire professional development training and strategic campaigns training that delves deeply into how we can use the blueprint in Say Their Names to accelerate victories in campaigns for social, environmental, and climate justice. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org for details.
Photo: That’s me at the Conference with U.S. Forest Service Sponsor Beattra Wilson, in the middle, and Singer, Storyteller, and Cultural Historian Karen Wilson Ama-‘Echefu, who spoke (and sang a bit) on the Belonging panel and provided outstanding support during my book signing.