“Not everything that is faced can be changed. But nothing can be changed until it is faced.”
– James Baldwin
One of my favorite spots in the Pacific Northwest, where I’m from, is a small Seattle neighborhood known as Mt. Baker. It’s tucked between Lake Washington and Rainier Valley, offering an array of parks, beach activities, and natural beauty. The residences here blend seamlessly with nature, with many of the homes perched amongst the Pacific Dogwood and Crimson Queen Japanese Maple trees.
Mt. Baker is about two miles from my childhood home – close enough to absorb my summer days (and nights, which still saw daylight until nearly 9 p.m.), but far enough away to still feel a world away. It was both accessible and aspirational. I look back at these early outdoor adventures not just as leisurely memories but as teaching moments that shaped my understanding of equity and access. The life that Mt. Baker offered: the nearby fishing, boating, and the joys of the outdoors, represented a quality of life. My family, just south of this coveted area, could frequent these environmental luxuries, if not live in them. But further south, where the city streets widened and the homes narrowed, Mt. Baker was out of reach for children and families.
For me, working with Ten Strands represents the opportunity to close the gap of such inequities and contribute to creating an environment “where all students have access to high-quality environment-based education; and where all people have the knowledge, awareness, and ability to promote health and wellbeing for themselves, their communities, and the planet.” Environmental education offers the opportunity for communities to relish the planet and protect it. It’s the chance for them to find their own Mt. Baker.
My passion for educational equity is rooted in both career and life experience. I began my career in journalism with dreams of becoming a watchdog reporter who challenged corrupt systems and forced accountability from leaders. I fell well short of that and eventually transitioned to sports reporting where the stakes were lower, and often, the sense of satisfaction.
My desire to work towards change for underserved communities eventually led me to work in education communications. I’ve worked as a communications consultant for many Southern California school districts while illuminating the success stories of communities of color and helping to change narratives. Working closely with exceptional students and educators has been an inspiring journey. But in many cases, it has also been a reminder of the disparity in educational tools found in differing school districts and neighborhoods.
I learned about this during my own educational path, in which I mostly attended public schools in diverse neighborhoods. I spent my final year of middle school at a private school before attending high school in a suburb of Seattle. Those latter years were an eye-opening experience that revealed the gaps in facilities, curriculum, and expectations found in varying school environments. Unfortunately, these factors and outcomes have only exacerbated since my days in school. I want to be purposeful about addressing these inequalities, and I hope that my work is a small contributing factor to dismantling them.