By David MacDonald, President and CEO, Friends of Acadia
As many of us grapple with the grief, fear, and division arising out of the horrific killing of George Floyd, one might ask: does this really have any connection with Friends of Acadia, national parks, or our relatively peaceful corner of the world? The answer is yes. Acts of violence and racism undermine our collective goals, vision, and the very values on which our parks are premised.
Parks aspire to be places of healing, unity, and wellness and to reflect our history as a nation. Yet far too often, parks have been most accessible to white middle and upper-class Americans. For parks to truly offer value and meaning to all, organizations like Friends of Acadia need to ask uncomfortable questions about our assumptions, limitations, and experiences (or lack thereof) and do the work to help everyone feel welcome, comfortable, and safe in our beautiful park. Places like Acadia have tremendous potential to offer physical, emotional, and mental health benefits when they are most sorely needed and to help provide meaning when so much of our world is unstable.
None of this will be fully realized, however, without addressing the fundamental inequalities that still affect the lives of millions of people of color each day. As we grieve the unjust killing of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and so many others, Friends of Acadia is committed to deepening our connection with, and inclusion of, underrepresented people to reach a better place of diversity, equality, justice and inclusion as an organization, a park, and a society.
We welcome your feedback, experiences, and involvement; please don’t hesitate to reach out to help us with this important work ahead.