TAKING NATURE BLACK®
The Audubon Naturalist Society’s (ANS) Taking Nature Black Conference and the U.S. Forest Service’s Urban and Community Forestry Program proudly present Belonging: The Black Americans in Nature Photography Project, an e-book of 40 Black American portraits and essays.
“When I chose to study urban forestry, I had never seen a Black woman professional forester, so this work, featuring Black Americans who represent a wide variety of environmental professions, and personal experiences in urban and community forests, inspires me, says Beattra Wilson, Assistant Director of the Forest Service’s Urban and Community Forestry Program. We all deserve equitable access to greenspace, and these images are the most amazing reminders of not only what I do in public service and how it shows up, but of my “Why?”. Why I do what I do, and why we at the Forest Service do what we do and partner with non-profits such as ANS’s Taking Nature Black Conference.”
Amidst the D.C. metro area’s crosshatch of highways and roads, against the specter of continual “development,” breathtaking, natural, serene urban oases were revealed by Belonging’s 40 portrait subjects, covering five generations and including eight children. Our three professional photographers and the book’s designer traveled to 22 nature spaces, including rivers, streams, ponds, city, county and national parks, trails, a river walk, a farm, a rain garden, a nature sanctuary, and islands. Out of our travels and reflections came poetry, which can be found in several places in the book, including the introduction.
“The history of African-descended people is a history of belonging to nature. But a Google search or scan of mass media, including major environmental publications, would not make evident these truths. In fact, Black Americans are rarely seen in nature settings. And so it is with that understanding that we undertook Belonging,” says Taking Nature Black Chairwoman Caroline Brewer. “I hope it will inspire new conversations, healing conversations, about people of color and nature for many years to come.”
“I encourage everyone to make time to savor Belonging," says Audubon Naturalist Society Executive Director Lisa Alexander. "This fabulous photo exhibit is filled with heart, soul, and uplifting stories of Black Americans and their deep and fundamental connections to nature. You will be uplifted!”
An exploration of ways in which the Black American faith community and environmental groups can connect
to explore, conserve, protect and nurture the natural world.
Sponsored by ANS and the U.S. Forest Service's Office of Urban and Community Forestry.
Our expert panelists included Rev. Michael S. Martin, of Baltimore's Stillmeadow Community Church; Tamara Toles O'Laughlin, Climate Strategist, Environmental Advocate, and President and CEO of the Environmental Grantmakers Association; Ronnie Webb, President and Co-Founder of The Green Scheme in DC; and Terris King, II, Head of School of Temple X Schools in Baltimore. Patuxent Riverkeeper Fred Tutman served as moderator. Brief remarks were offered by Beattra Wilson, Assistant Director for Urban & Community Forestry, and Taking Nature Black Chairwoman Caroline Brewer. Learn more about our presenters here.