This letter was originally published in CREA’s Fall 2020 newsletter.
Dear Members and Friends of CREA:
As you know, we are passionate about the importance of the natural world. We strive to connect people with nature with the hope that a stronger connection will inspire greater care and stewardship for the earth.
As educators, we are committed to lifelong learning, not only for you, but for CREA staff and volunteers as well. We have been paying close attention to recent events that have taken so much of our country’s time and attention, and thought carefully about them in the context of our mission. We believe CREA’s mission positions us well to address the challenges that face us today.
First, we know that time spent in nature benefits our physical and mental well-being. We know that safe and effective educational programming can happen outdoors. We also know that biodiversity strengthens natural systems. And we know that, similarly, environmental education is made stronger by the contributions, experiences, perspectives, and values of the diverse people in our community.
To that end, we are deepening our understanding of who is in our communities, what barriers might limit people’s engagement with nature, and how to find collaborative solutions. We welcome this focus because we want our programs to serve everyone in the community, especially those most in need of solace, uplifting, and support. This seems particularly important given the stresses created by the pandemic. Further, it is an integral part of evaluating our programs and their effectiveness.
We have begun this work in small ways already. We are partnering with BTLT to deliver nature-based activity kits for students on home learning days, distributing them through Midcoast Hunger Prevention Program and local libraries. We are working to ensure our speakers reflect diverse backgrounds and perspectives. And our Storywalk, currently located at our new office space at Brunswick Landing, has been translated into French and Portuguese so nearby New Mainers can enjoy it as well.
Reviewing our work through a new lens brings focus to CREA’s vital role in the increasingly diverse Brunswick/Topsham community; we will continue efforts to make our work relevant and welcoming to all. We invite your thoughts, and ask for your support, as we continue to provide the joys and benefits of nature-based learning to our schools and community.
Ellen Bennett, President Caroline Eliot, Executive Director