“This land was made for you and me.” Over the years, this Woodie Guthrie lyric has become an anthem of our nation’s land conservation community.
But the murder of George Floyd, on the heels of countless other tragic acts of violence perpetrated upon black people at the hands of civil authorities, have me questioning the unifying, optimistic sentiment. Is our nation’s land really meant for all? Our history proves otherwise.
When we in this community talk about land, we prescribe certain
values: clean water, clean air, access to recreation, etc. And while we
can agree that these values are universally critical in supporting
health and wellbeing for all, we must also acknowledge and respect the
possibility that history and current circumstances influence the way
others relate to the land. The times in which we are living require us
to dig deeper into the role land and land ownership have played in
creating the divides that are plaguing our nation today.