Dear Members of the Wilderness Leadership & Learning (WILL) Family, Friends of WILL, and the Greater Community
Across the country, we are witnessing and feeling the pain of injustices that Black individuals, families, and communities have suffered for centuries.
The murders of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor have blown the embers long glowing beneath the surface due to scores of countless widely unknown other slayings into a fire calling for and demanding decades of overdue change. Inequality and injustice affect us all and are an albatross around society’s neck keeping us from achieving our best and our collective greatness.
The Fourth Pillar which provides structure and support for the WILL experience is Cultural Awareness and Appreciation – to be receptive to, to appreciate, and to respect diversity and differences in others. We stress that compassion and empathy are essential qualities for one to be an effective leader, and that leaders give to others and their communities.
Individually, our voice may be small, but together our voices are a force. WILL joins others in standing in solidarity with our black, brown, and native brothers and sisters. While we may not all know the same pain and injustice, we do feel it. Our WILL heart organizationally and the heart of each individual in the WILL family is heavy with grief, mourning, and outrage at the wanton killings of people of color.
WILL teaches and discusses SMART Goals with youth. We remind them that goals without plans are dreams and that we are effective and move forward with specific goals and the plans/steps we climb to achieve them. This is a time for action to reach true and real equality in education, health care, housing, and for justice for all (not the justice you can afford); to name a few.
We ask the WILL community (and others) to practice empathy – put yourself in the shoes of people of color who have lived for generations with the weight of negative bias, racism, and bigotry on their shoulders.
In WILL, we say that we all put our pants and skirts on one leg at a time – we are all in this together (and we are)! WILL is committed to working to create a just society that honors humanity.
Together let’s listen, learn, and partner with our brothers and sisters of color; together, with specific goals and the steps we will climb to reach them, we can and will dismantle systems of oppression; together we will build an equitable community. We are in this together and WILL is with you.
With Caring and Respect,
President, Wilderness Leadership & Learning, Inc.