I met Desiree Adaway at the Botanical Gardens for Forest Friday, where we nestled on a rock under a tree. Desiree is recovering from a leg injury, so I picked a beautiful place that didn’t demand much walking. The Botanical Gardens is a great place to feel in community with nature without having go out of town.
Desiree is a Dogwood Alliance favorite. She worked with our organization a couple years ago to coach us, and we have yet to let her go. She is currently coaching our Executive Director, Danna Smith. Luckily, the feelings are so mutual. Desiree said:
There are two things that I adore about Dogwood. One is the absolute utter unabashedly, unashamed commitment that Danna and all the staff and the board have for this work. Every day just in it and really committed to that. I love that Dogwood sees this work as a part of a larger piece of social justice and that it is not just about the trees and the water, but about the communities and the people. I love that Dogwood is not only committed to the environment but to understanding how the environment intersects with race, class, and gender and making it accessible to everybody. That’s really important to me.
Desiree is a very busy woman completely committed to her social justice work. Currently, she is primarily doing anti-oppression work. She has a few online classes she teaches with her colleague Erika Hines. In April she launched a social justice intensive course that focuses on racism and privilege, religion and what it means to be non-Christian in this country, and sexism and heterosexism. You can look at other classes Desiree offers and read more about her incredible work here.
Desiree talks about relationships as transformational and not transactional. She said:
When we both step away from the table, we’re both better from being there. Not just you, but we both are. We both are stronger organizations. We both are better equipped. We now have stronger, more useful tools to get this work done. I always say let’s get free together because we have to. We have to do this together. You can save all the trees you want, but if the people in the communities with those trees are not having their needs met, then what’s saving those trees for? You want people to come out and enjoy it and be in community and harmony with it. We have to save the earth in all ways for everybody. That’s the work. You can’t do that if it’s only you sitting at the table talking about trees. It’s the trees AND the gift and the impact they have on the quality of life for everybody.
We want to thank Desiree for joining us for a Forest Friday! Please keep checking back for more Forest Fridays coming soon!