Re-Connecting with Nature
May 19, 2023
For more than twenty years, Wildwoods has provided nature-based programs for children and families across Los Angeles. Beyond traditional "environmental education," Wildwoods works at the nexus of natural science and social science. Wildwood's founder, Dwain Wilson, shared his ideas with us about sustainable solutions for LA's community and his experience with introducing outdoor education into the city. Read on to read the full interview.
N2N: How do you think non profits are important to LA’s future?
Dwain: Nonprofits address issues that the free market can't or won't. While I wish the entire world was a social democracy, the reality in the US is that this is how we've decided society will deal with these challenges. And given that LA is a veritable hot bed of social problems, the nonprofit sector here will be tilting against these windmills for generations to come. Will we ever solve these problems? No. Will we help make some lives better along the way? Yes. So, that's why we do what we do. And that's why it's important to the city's future.
N2N: What are your hopes for the future of LA?
Dwain: Equity. The end of homelessness. Abundant mental health services. Completely overhauled and retrained law enforcement (both police and sheriff's departments). Vibrant public schools. Tree-lined streets eliminating heat islands.
N2N: Do you have any stories about positive interactions you've recently had with your local community?
We serve a population that lives in one of the densest, most park-poor neighborhoods in all of LA County. They have told us the story of a Latin American diaspora that was at one time very close to nature in their homeland. Now, one of the most important things to them is sharing that love of nature with their children and grandchildren.
You can take people out of nature, but you can't take the nature out of people.
N2N: Are there any ideas on your mind that you believe could help LA become more sustainable and community-oriented?
A few ideas include: Hyper-localized energy grids; permanent street closures to create city-wide walkable/bikeable transit routes. Also, community gardens throughout the city functioning as co-ops to address food insecurity and nutrition.
N2N: What are some of your favorite parts of working in the non profit world?
The people in the organizations and the people in the communities we serve. They are the best humanity has to offer.
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