By Executive Director Belén Bernal
As 2021 draws to a close, we have a lot to be proud of and much more to be grateful for! Despite another incredibly challenging year, the team at Nature for All continues to make significant contributions to protect our public lands, create access and equitable opportunities to connect community members across our region to nature.
We worked with more than 400 community members this year in leadership courses and academy classes, and led safe in-person hikes to inspire our next generation of diverse environmental leaders. Many participants were new to the conversation, while others shared stories with their peers of their personal and professional experiences. Overall, we know that participants were touched, moved, and inspired to contribute to shared environmental and social justice goals in the months and years ahead!
We were proud to celebrate the 10th year of the Nature for All Leadership Academy this year and we look forward to coming together in the year ahead. We have already learned from participants from our current cohort (our 19th!) and we can’t wait to see them launch their community service projects in the new year.
In terms of policy, we walk into 2022 hopeful about wins that align with our vision and mission. These policies will continue to support our goal to ensure that everyone in the Los Angeles region – especially individuals, families, and youth that have historically lacked access to public lands, parks, and green spaces – can enjoy quality time outdoors. After these two years of living through a pandemic, time in nature is needed more than ever to help our communities heal. Nature can nurture our hearts, minds, and bodies, and inspire community members to cherish it and become the environmental stewards needed to help us protect it.
These policies will allow us to highlight the natural, cultural, and historical importance of celebrating access to ancestral tribal lands and do so respectfully as we honor those who came before us and the lands we all seek to protect. Policy wins include the:
- PUBLIC Lands Act, introduced by Senators Alex Padilla and Dianne Feinstein, which will protect more than a million acres of public lands and over 500 miles of rivers in California, address the climate crisis, and make the outdoors more accessible to all;
- Biden-Harris Administration’s America the Beautiful plan to conserve at least 30% of lands and waters by 2030, a bold and necessary step for us to address the climate crisis and ensure that generations to come will be able to enjoy all the benefits provided by nature;
- Newsom Administration’s commitment to spend $548.3 million for the “Outdoors for All” initiative, California’s largest-ever single investment in parks and open space for park-poor communities.
We hope you take a moment to celebrate these collective wins and spend time reflecting on the lives impacted by the opportunities.
Finally, we are riding this momentum right into 2022 with goals to continue to:
- Educate, train and develop more community leaders to become environmental leaders that will protect and enjoy our public lands;
- Achieve more environmental justice in our historically underserved neighborhoods, with new green spaces, trips to state beaches and parks, as well as continue to plan for the transit-to-trails routes so desperately needed to make our majestic public lands truly accessible to all;
- Collaborate with coalition partners, funders, and stakeholders to build a diverse base of support that will ensure that policies, programs, and collective efforts across all levels of government have the impact we all know our communities deserve.
I’d like to also add a special thank-you for Nature for All staff and coalition members. We look forward to continuing to be a strong and collective voice for the communities we each work with in the year ahead! Our coalition members:
- Active San Gabriel Valley (Active SGV)
- Amigos De Los Rios
- Asian Pacific Islander Forward Movement (APIFM)
- Consejo de Federaciones Mexicanas (COFEM)
- Day One
- Audubon, CA
- California Wilderness Society
- National Parks Conservation Association
- Sierra Club
We look forward to your continued support and participation! Together, we will continue to heal from deeply ingrained inequities as we seek to protect, learn from, and cherish our public lands and open spaces.
I hope you have a wonderful holiday season and, if you can, choose to spend some time with nature to enjoy its many beauties!
Best Wishes and Happy New Year,
p.s. If you are in the position to include Nature for All in your end-of-year giving plans, we thank you in advance!