The source of our social problems are complex and rooted in centuries of racism and oppression of Black and Indigenous communities and people of color. The acts of discrimination and violence against Black Americans are shameful beyond the pale. This pattern of injustices needs to end. 

The Foundation for Dane County Parks believes that Black Lives Matter and stands in solidarity with the long overdue movement to dismantle structural racism in our country’s institutions.   

As the conversation about making meaningful, lasting change in our communities continues, the safety of and access to nature for Black, Indigenous and Brown people can and must be a part of the discussion.  The Foundation believes that all people of color deserve to live in a community with healthy land and water resources as well as with access to the parks, trails, and other natural resources in the county.

Today, many people struggle to find ways to access and enjoy the natural world. Our relationship with nature is incorporated in our DNA and is essential to the health of our bodies, minds, and spirits, yet that relationship is limited by cultural, economic, racial, and geographic barriers. Many of our major cities in the U.S. have limited access to parks and natural resources for their residents, and the disparity is even more egregious for communities of color.

The Dane County Parks Department has recognized this access issue, and through programming and resources and, with our Foundation, has supported initiatives to rectify the situation locally. But we have much work to do. As a private organization supporting county parks, we want to be a part of engaging with, listening to, and learning from under-represented communities. We commit to actively identifying and reducing those barriers and more fully incorporating equity, diversity, and inclusion goals into our vision and programming.

Time spent in nature is directly linked to our well-being, and parks and trails present opportunities to connect people, places, and cultures. Studies have shown that physical and mental health are improved when people have access to natural spaces. It is a logical extension of the human right to health that helps undergird a healthy community and social and racial justice.   

The Foundation pledges to be part of the community change through discussions, programs, and resources to help make this movement for Black Lives Matter and incorporating access to nature the permanent fibers in Dane County and beyond.  

In solidarity,

The Foundation for Dane County Parks Board of Directors

June 16, 2020

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