Although temperatures were in the 90’s on Saturday, June 11th, over 500 adults and children attended the Forest Preserves of Cook County's Beaubien Woods Celebration.
They arrived by bus and carloads, eager to enjoy spending time together outside with their families and faith communities. Activities included canoeing, fishing, archery, and even the planting of needed native plants. It so happened that June 11th marked National Get Outdoors Day, when people are encouraged to explore the natural world and learn how our actions affect the land, water, and air that we all share.
Faith in Place, as well as the partner organizations, honored this vision of the National Get Outdoors Day. Ramont Bell, Pastor Booker Vance and Rev. Debra Williams shared information with attendees about the need to care for the Earth by conserving water; planting food and vegetable gardens; recycling, reusing, and repurposing materials; and getting involved in advocacy.
Beaubien Woods is the right place to experience and appreciate the outdoors. Beaubien is located just about as far south as you can go in Chicago before running into the south suburbs. With the Little Calumet River flowing on the southwestern border of the preserve, and a lake in the mddle, Beaubien is home to great ecological diversity. At Beaubien Woods, the habitats of animals, birds, fish, trees, and plants native to our state can all be explored.
The Forest Preserves of Cook County Recreation Manager, Art Matthews, and his staff, as well as John Kidd of Fishin’ Buddies, and his staff, are to be commended for the vision that drives the Beaubien Woods celebration.
A special feature was a part of this year’s celebration. 2016 marks the 100th anniversary since the migration of African Americans from the segregated south to the “promised better” in the north. It is during this year that conversations about migration are even more relevant and worthy of note.
One of the tools of engagement and information utilized by Faith in Place’s Migration & Me program is Story Circles.
During these events, where persons share their migration stories, the common needs of those who migrate are uniquely coupled with our need to care for the Earth. This time of storytelling allows the reality of the need for food, water, shelter, and a place to rest to be lifted up. These needs are a reality for people as well as, for example, the Monarch Butterfly.
A highlight of this year’s celebration was hearing a 97-year-old gentleman, named Mr. Timuel Black, Jr., tell his family’s migration story. He jokingly said that he told his parents that they had to get out of the segregated south. He could not have made that declaration, because his family brought him here as an infant from Birmingham, Alabama.
With his experiences and background as a black man in America, an educator, family man, activist and author, he walked us through the good, the bad, and the ugly, of history in a magnificent and riveting manner. He intentionally charged those listening to be mindful to leave a legacy that mirrors the hope and faith of those who came before us.
Watch the video of Mr. Black telling his story
Feeing inspired to experience the impact of the unique coupling of storytelling and the outdoors? We have several upcoming Nature Outing opportunities in the Chicago area and Lake County. Check out our Events Calendar to find one near you!