The Inspiring Connections Outdoors (ICO), North Star Chapter joins organizations in the Twin Cities and beyond in mourning and condemning the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police officers. His murder is the most recent example in a pattern of police violence and systemic racism in Minneapolis. We are calling for justice for George Floyd, other victims of police violence, and societal reform to erase all forms of systemic racism in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and the United States.
As an organization that aims to inspire new connections between people and the outdoors, among individuals, and between different communities, we recognize the persistence of and are committed to working against all forms of racism, especially anti-Black racism, in outdoor culture. Christian Cooper’s experience of being threatened by a white woman while birding in New York’s Central Park is just one example of the very real dangers Black people face while simply trying to spend some time enjoying the outdoors.
We also acknowledge and emphasize the fact the “outdoors” referred to above, on which we hike and take nature walks in our outings, are the traditional, ancestral, and contemporary lands of Indigenous peoples, wrongfully taken for the benefit of white settlers and their descendants. Moreover, we recognize the forms of land stewardship and ecology practiced by Indigenous, Black, and People of Color communities. In our work, we will not aim to teach a singular, Eurocentric ecology, or assume that whatever the perspective we come from is the only way to relate to the land. The youth and other individuals with whom we participate in outings come with knowledge about nature, the land, and ways of being that we make a commitment to respect and learn from. We aim to approach our work as both learners and teachers.
We have much work to do in eradicating white supremacy, including in outdoor spaces that ultimately should be sites that are welcoming for all individuals. We strive to abolish white supremacy in our in our organization and in our outings, where individuals might be experiencing new activities including those that might involve being out of their comfort zones. We seek to create and sustain an anti-racist culture where the lives, voices, experiences, physical well-being and safety of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color communities are respected and honored.