5 June 2020
Dear Guides and Guides in Training:
It is hard to find the words to express the sadness, rage and grief brought on by the onslaught of recent headlines. From the murders of George Floyd, Brionna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Tony McDade and so many others to the incident in Central Park’s Ramble that went viral the continual and systematic violent oppression of indigenous, brown and black bodies is an undeniable reality. That the COVID-19 pandemic has also disproportionately impacted indigenous communities and communities of color also highlights the reality of these systemic inequities. As the incident in Central Park
demonstrates, this reality blocks access to the health benefits of time in nature and forest therapy to communities that already suffer undo health risks from this continuous and systematic oppression.
The mission statement of ANFT is “to promote forest therapy and create pathways for guides.” Our mission is inherently an environmental mission to heal relationships between humans and the more than human world. We recognize that our mission is compromised by the systems that maintain white bodied supremacy and deny access to the most basic of human necessities including access to and comfort in nature to huge segments of our population based solely on the color of their skin. We also recognize that these systems are inextricably linked to the same systems that have degraded and destroyed our forests and ecosystems worldwide. We condemn these systems and the violence and brutality they have and continue to perpetuate against people of color, indigenous people and against the earth. Every human being needs nature for health and healing and we believe the earth needs every human being for its health too.
We encourage all of our white community members to examine where racism lives in your hearts, minds and bodies and to begin to root out racism anywhere it has made a home within you. Resources we recommend to begin this process are the works of Robin Di’Angelo
, Resmaa Menakem
and Layla F. Saad
We also wish to stand in solidarity with our local community here in Sonoma County, CA where ANFT is headquartered, by remembering local victims of law enforcement violence Andy Lopez, Branch Wroth, David Ward, Jason Anglero-Wyrick, those who have died in custody at the Sonoma County Jail and many more. ANFT will continue in its mission to create pathways for guides because the earth dreams through all of us regardless of our skin color. Because black lives matter and black earth dreaming matters, we are committed to examining issues of diversity, access and equity in our staff and programming so that everyone can have access to the health benefits of Forest Therapy.
For the forests and for the people,
The ANFT Staff