Happy New Year! As January 2022 begins to take shape, it is both refreshing and daunting to be faced with a new year. 2021 was unimaginably taxing and challenging, so a new year brings the hope for a better year and forward progress. However, the many movements for social reform, the COVID-19 pandemic, and political unrest are as prevalent as ever in this new year, allowing the unease and worry to translate as well. In my mind, it is important to start the new year with realistic expectations and habits that are grounding and supportive of the many stressors, long-term anxieties, and uncertainties that remain with us.
Entering the new year, The Project Outside recognizes the importance of focusing on the present; the everyday routines, activities, and challenges we find ourselves consumed by. As the pandemic continues to tax our mental and physical health, we must seek the benefits of nature in places we didn’t previously turn to, such as local parks, open spaces, and even our own backyard.
We also must continue to fight climate change. For The Project Outside, this means working to redefine the term “nature” and increase education about and engagement with the natural world in cities. Changing our concept of nature, of the wild, of conservation will broaden the mindsets of those living in cities and redefine how we engage with nature, sustainability, and the fight with climate change in the urban environment. We must bring the fight to us and the nature we experience every day, not just reserving it for the “pristine” wilderness visited in National Park and open spaces.
In 2022 we are excited to launch new content and continue to work to increase engagement with the natural world. Using our Instagram and website, we want to continue to inspire people to get outside where they live and think about the natural world right outside their doorsteps in a new way. You don’t need to drive hours to visit a National Park to engage with the natural world in a meaningful way.
Along with a practical environmental education curriculum, The Project Outside is working to think critically about broader conceptions of nature in the 21st century and how to redesign how Americans think about the natural world in order to fight environmental justice issues and climate change. By rethinking the framework, we can tackle education from a new lens and inspire different forms of change.
Our first #outside2022 challenge is starting in January, and similar to past challenges, each day we will share a way to get outside on Instagram @the.project.outside. Tag us in your posts as you follow along with the challenge yourself! While this challenge may seem insignificant in fighting climate change, continuing to strengthen the connection between kids, families, and adults and the environment is the only way to develop passionate, sustainably focused leaders for the fight against climate change. Additionally, the benefits of getting outside are endless, and what better way to start the new year than to invest in ourselves and the natural spaces we inhabit.
Have a safe start to the new year and we can’t wait to see all the ways you get outside this month!