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Inclusion is a Core Value of the NCTA
A Letter from the Executive Director and Board President
The North Country National Scenic Trail has the potential to transform lives – a place to disconnect and be free to roam, free to breathe, quiet the mind and heal the heart. It’s played a transformative role in our lives and everyone deserves that same opportunity. But recent events have again exposed the reality that black and brown faces aren’t always safe in public spaces, that simply walking, running, or bird watching while black can be a threat to your safety and at its worst, a death sentence.
It’s the reality of why millions of Americans don’t feel free to spend time in the woods, something we do every day with ease. We pride ourselves on the fact that the Trail is a resource for all but the reality is that the destructive effect of racism and its strong presence in our culture and institutions keeps the vast majority of public lands and trails in the hands of a few. Today, we stand in solidarity with the voices calling for change.
Inclusion is a core value of the North Country Trail Association. We are committed to ensuring that everyone is respected, included and valued for their contributions to our mission and culture. We actively welcome people of different backgrounds, perspectives, thoughts and beliefs. But without justice, equity and diversity, it’s too easy to listen to the same voices and consider ourselves inclusive simply because we allow an open exchange of opinion. To truly be inclusive, we have to address the inequities and injustices that have led to the trail community being a white community. The work starts with us.
We are witnessing a pivotal moment in history but the real work will be done long after this moment has quieted. As part of the Outdoor CEO Diversity Pledge, NCTA has promised to amplify the voices and experiences of people of color; to work toward ensuring diverse voices on our Staff and Board and within our Chapter leadership, and to engage broader partnerships with communities of color. We have failed by not taking responsibility for our role in perpetuating the problem nor our role in reversing it. Today, NCTA is making a commitment to be an ally. We will make mistakes but we will show up, we will sit with and examine our privilege, we will listen, we will learn, and we will hold ourselves accountable.
The healing power of spending time in nature is unparalleled and the world needs access to trails and public lands more now than ever before. The Trail can be an avenue to heal only if we openly recognize the wound and actively do the work to ensure all are welcome to walk on the North Country National Scenic Trail.
Andrea Ketchmark, Executive Director, and Tim Mowbray, Board President