On Belonging in Outdoor Spaces Spring 2021 Speaker Series

On Belonging in Outdoor Spaces

A speaker series on access, inclusion, and connection in nature

(updated June 2021) This virtual speaker series ran March through June 2021 and was hosted by deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum, Farrington Nature Linc, The Food Project, Lincoln Land Conservation Trust, Mass Audubon, and The Walden Woods Project. Additional sponsorship was generously provided by the Ogden Codman Trust, the Lincoln Garden Club, and the Bemis Free Lectures Series. The speaker series featured prominent speakers whose work is advancing efforts to strengthen belonging and connection between communities of color and the benefits of time in nature.  In spring 2021 we  welcomed Akiima Price, Evelyn Rydz, Dr. Monica White, and Dr. J. Drew Lanham. Check back here after each program for additional information, resources, and program recordings. 

To register for the series, please visit www.onbelongingoutdoors.org.


Akiima Price: Meaningful Nature Engagement in Stressed Communities
March 10, 2021 | 7 PM EST

How can creative engagement connect communities to our natural surroundings? Can nature encourage healing and stronger community relationships? Akiima Price will share her experience with these topics in her talk, “Meaningful Nature Engagement in Stressed Populations.”

Akiima Price is an award-winning thought leader at the intersection of social and environmental issues and the relationship between nature and community well being. Her innovative programming strategies feature nature as a powerful medium to connect stressed youth, adults, and families in meaningful, positive experiences that affect the way they feel about themselves, their communities, and their parks. From her early career experiences as a National Park Service Interpretation Ranger at Lake Mead National Recreation Area in Boulder City, Nevada, to her national work with environmental and social service organizations, she has cultivated her experiences into cutting-edge best practices in trauma-informed environmentalism.

View the recording of Akiima’s presentation here. 


Evelyn Rydz: Close Attention: Exploring a creative practice inside and outside the studio
April 14, 2021 | 7 PM EST

Exploring the vulnerability and the resiliency of natural and cultural ecosystems, Rydz invites viewers and participants of her projects to imagine a different future – one shaped by our connections and care for local and global communities.

Evelyn Rydz creates work across drawing, photography, site-responsive installations and participatory community projects. Her projects explore natural and cultural ecosystems, their vulnerability and resilience, and ways they shape our connections to care, community, and perspectives of home, from local to global. Examples of her participatory community practice include projects inviting participants to share food, recipes, and stories with matriarchal meaning (Comida Casera, since 2016) and mapping and displaying sources of public drinking water, sites of toxic runoff and communities they impact (The Mouth: A Merrimack River Project, 2020). Rydz received an MFA from SMFA at Tufts University and is currently an Associate Professor at Massachusetts College of Art and Design.

This program was recorded and a recording was available for two weeks after the presentation. The recording is no longer available.


Dr Monica White: A Pig and a Garden: Fannie Lou Hamer and Freedom Farm Cooperative
May 12, 2021- | 7 PM EST

Much of the scholarship on the work and legacy of activist Fannie Lou Hamer concentrates on her tireless efforts for civil/human rights and African American representation and access to electoral politics. This presentation brings to light an important project she started in 1969, Freedom Farm Cooperative (FFC) in Sunflower County, MS. An agricultural cooperative built on 680-acres, Freedom Farm included a pig bank, Head Start program, community gardens, commercial kitchen, a garment factory, sewing cooperative, tool bank, and low-income, affordable housing as strategies to support the needs of African Americans who were fired and evicted for exercising the right to vote. Freedom Farm offered these sharecroppers and tenant farmers educational and re-training opportunities including health care and disaster relief for those who wanted to stay in the Mississippi Delta. Using a historical method to analyze extensive archival records, this presentation offers an analysis of Freedom Farm and illuminates valuable lessons on agriculture as resistance, and alternative strategies of rebuilding and investing in sustainable communities. Using the principles of collective and shared ownership, Freedom Farm and the work of Ms. Hamer, offer us important and valuable lessons on rebuilding our communities and investing in sustainable cities around growing food. 

Dr. Monica M. White teaches courses in environmental justice, urban agriculture and community food systems at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She is the first African American woman to earn tenure in both the College of Agricultural Life Sciences and the Gaylord Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies. Her research investigates Black, Latinx and Indigenous  grassroots organizations engaged in the development of  sustainable, community food systems as a strategy to respond to issues of hunger and food inaccessibility. She is the author of Freedom Farmers: Agricultural Resistance and the Black Freedom Movement (UNC Press, January 2019).

This program was not recorded.



Dr. J. Drew Lanham: Coloring the Conservation Conversation
June 2, 2021 | 7 PM EST

Dr. Lanham will discuss what it means to embrace the full breadth of his African-American heritage and his deep kinship to nature and adoration of birds. The convergence of ornithologist, college professor, poet, author and conservation activist blend to bring our awareness of the natural world and our moral responsibility for it forward in new ways. Candid by nature — and because of it — Lanham will examine how conservation must be a rigorous science and evocative art, inviting diversity and race to play active roles in celebrating our natural world.

A native of Edgefield, South Carolina, J. Drew Lanham is the author of The Home Place: Memoirs of a Colored Man’s Love Affair with Nature, which received the Reed Award from the Southern Environmental Law Center and the Southern Book Prize, and was a finalist for the John Burroughs Medal. He is a birder, naturalist, and hunter-conservationist who has published essays and poetry in publications including Orion, Audubon, Flycatcher, and Wilderness, and in several anthologies, including The Colors of Nature, State of the Heart, Bartram’s Living Legacy, and Carolina Writers at Home. An Alumni Distinguished Professor of Wildlife Ecology and Master Teacher at Clemson University, he and his family live in the Upstate of South Carolina, a soaring hawk’s downhill glide from the southern Appalachian escarpment that the Cherokee once called the Blue Wall.

View the Recording of Dr. Lanham’s Presentation Here.