This Group Is Helping Black Families in Metro Detroit Experience the Healing Power of Nature

One of the best things about summer in Michigan is our state’s natural beauty. However, outdoor recreation isn’t as accessible as it should be for all Metro Detroiters, especially for BIPOC communities.

One of the best things about summer in Michigan is our state’s natural beauty.

Hiking, camping, canoeing and similar outdoor activities are some of the ways many Michigan residents love to spend time during the warmer weather months. 

However, those opportunities aren’t as accessible as they should be for all Metro Detroiters, especially for BIPOC communities. That’s where the founders of the Black to the Land Coalition come in. 

The group organizes outdoor trips for families and also helps provide equipment like tents, sleeping bags, backpacks and more.

In 2018, Detroiter Djenaba Ali was invited by a friend to camp with her five children at Proud Lake Recreation Area in Commerce Township. She says it was such a wonderful experience that she felt that it was now her mission to make camping more accessible for families like hers.

“I was always a nature girl but … this was my first opportunity [in years],” she says. “The rest is history.”

Ali and a group of other fans of outdoor recreation began the Black to the Land Coalition. Journalist Rhonda Smith recently wrote about the group and the importance of connecting with natural spaces for Black families for the environmental website Planet Detroit.

“Many of us [in the BIPOC communities] have reclaimed that because we recognize the healing power of nature,” Smith says. “I want to share that with people, it’s a real thing, it doesn’t cost much, but … the gear can cost a lot so that’s why we need supporters like Black to the Land Coalition.” 

Listen: Hear Ali and Smith discuss the importance of time in nature for Black Metro Detroiters and how the Black to the Land Coalition helps make it easier to do. 

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  • Amanda LeClaire
    Amanda LeClaire is an award-winning host and producer of CultureShift on 101.9 WDET-FM Detroit’s NPR station. She’s a founding producer of WDET’s flagship news talk show Detroit Today, and a former host/reporter for Arizona Public Media. Amanda is also an artist, certified intuitive and energy healer, and professional tarot reader.