environmental justice, nature play, programs

For Love of Place

I’ve spent much time during the last few years bemoaning “used to be” and what we don’t have. I have grieved for the political system we haven’t had, the compassion unspent and the justice unseen. It has been a topic of constant conversation in my home and with my loved ones. We have kept our eyes on the horizon longing for a sign of hope.

Through it all, I’ve lived in the same place – the same physical location. My son finished high school and began college here in this smallish suburb of metro Atlanta. It has a rich history with which I am still acquainting myself. While tensions ran high across our country and diversity seemed to bring tension and strife in many communities, our little town just “kept on.” For the most part, white, black, and brown folk continued to wave and say “How you ta’day” when they met in the local Mexican restaurant. We don’t know one another by name, but we’re familiar enough to know where we know one another from.

Jason and I like that about our town. We like that the diversity is something that is a part of being where we are physically located in our county and state. It is in harmony with our values, and with who we wanted our children to be when they became adults and had families of their own. We aren’t naive enough to think it always works out perfectly in our community, but we do sense an intentionality here. Our love of this place is one of the reasons we’ve chosen to invest our hearts here in the name of Sparrow’s Nest Play.

The past is our definition. We may strive with good reason to escape it, or to escape what is bad in it. But we will escape it only by adding something better to it.

Wendell Berry

Born of privilege, we realize we’ve had opportunities others have not enjoyed. The realization of those inequities has made it impossible for us to continue on as if we never knew about all people on the margins. Our identification with the autistic community and those who identify as “neuro-diverse” have awarded us opportunities to experience some of those margins ourselves.

COVID has only highlighted areas of drastic inequality. When many schools went to virtual learning, it wasn’t an issue for areas with wifi access or families with technology to support that kind of learning. For others, it was impossible. Some families saw this as an excellent opportunity to try out forest schooling and nature play as alternatives. However, these programs are often expensive and comparable to private school options. For families of lower income, this was not an option.

We realize many parents in our community are working extremely hard to provide for their children. This can often mean working a job and a half, which means utilizing an after school care program to assist with childcare. Sure they’d love to pick up their children right after school and let them go home and play outside in the fresh air, but that option is simply not open to them. For those families, the school after care program is the most cost-effective option, even if it does mean three additional hours each day inside a crowded school cafeteria.

Sparrow’s Nest Play wants to partner with families in our community to change the way children spend their afternoons. Using our town as an educational hub, we want to immerse our kids in nature and creation care every afternoon, engaging them in projects that will enrich their minds and build relationships.

Through a partnership with Rooted Trading Company and the City of Powder Springs, we will be bringing our Nature Play Adventures Program in Spring 2022. We’ll be starting small, with only room for 6 students – but we’ve always believed that it is the smallest of things that really make a difference.

Please consider helping us in our endeavor by sponsoring this program so that we can make it a cost friendly option for families in our community.

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