Statement from Catey Terry, Tremont Institute President and CEO
If 2020 were like previous years, and you were on our campus with us, we’d bring you outdoors and ask you to take a moment to observe, to listen, to pay attention to the natural world around you. Your experience would depend on you, and so we wouldn’t tell you what you should feel. We wouldn’t tell you what you should learn. But by tuning you into wonders of our natural systems that may have gone overlooked, you’d perhaps discover a new perspective or reaffirm what you already know to be true.
Because 2020 is not like previous years, you’ve likely observed in your own spaces the immense pain and struggles of people of color playing out on city streets across the nation. You may be hearing such voices getting louder as they are amplified in solidarity by those in power. Because of the disruptions to our natural systems through the civil unrest and the current pandemic, you may now be experiencing the world differently. So, just as we’d do in our programs, Tremont will work to tune you into the perspectives of others–of those who share in our belief that the benefits of time spent in nature should be accessible to all. We’ll share the voices from communities of color that lack equitable access to nature, who have been systemically marginalized and are impacted disproportionately by the challenges of our time.
And I’ll do here what we’d generally do at Tremont. I won’t tell you what you should feel, what you should learn. But I will invite you to listen, to keep your eyes open, and to pay attention. Reflect on what you feel. And as we continue to explore more together, may we each discover our world in a way that makes us all feel more connected.
Written by Tyler Gonzales, Lead Teacher Naturalist
Art by Latasha Dunston. Follow on Instagram @jitterbug_art
We stand in solidarity with everyone demanding justice for the murders of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbury, Breonna Taylor, and countless other Black people.
Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont strives to be a place of support, healing, growth, and empowerment for our community. Our efforts and programming are rooted in research which has shown the immense benefits of spending time outside connecting to nature and one another. Black people, Black children, Black families, and Black communities have a right to thrive in the outdoors.
We all must get to work dismantling systemic racism and white supremacy.
Tremont continues to work towards recognizing current and historical barriers that Black people face in engaging with nature. Our success is reliant on eliminating barriers internally and externally, as we are able, to ensure what we strive for can be realized by all. In order to be relevant, we must be inclusive and culturally sustaining in our operations and programming.
For our organization, most of the work in racial equity and inclusion is still yet to come. But we are inspired by our community and outdoor organizations that make equity and inclusion a core part of their mission.
We are listening and reflecting on this during a difficult time for our organization. Black, Indigenous, and People of Color are disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 and the economic downturn. It is past time to take action, mitigate implicit bias, and dismantle racism in outdoor education.