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We must do more, we must do better, and we must do it NOW.

After the first closure in Ithaca Children’s Garden history due to covid-19, the Garden is now OPEN, for every child. To affirm that ICG is open for every child, we stand with those fighting for racial justice and against police violence.

We are infuriated by the killings of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, and the countless others whose lives have been taken or ruined by systemic racism and white supremacy. We acknowledge that the system of oppression that Black and Brown people in America live in–and have lived in for over 400 years–is not only unjust but inhuman and unconscionable. 

In November 2019, ICG adopted a new strategic plan, which includes a vision to build a world where every child has the basic human right to play, learn, and grow outdoors.

ICG defined five core values, one of which is that ICG be inclusive, safe, and committed to becoming a multicultural organization that challenges racist power structures

ICG’s mission–to connect children to nature to create a more beautiful, resilient, and just world–is simply not possible when Black and Brown children and their families are not safe–and/or do not feel safe–in public and park settings.

Today, we call on our community of friends and supporters; we call on our fellow nonprofit leaders and government officials; we call on our funders and our patrons; we call on our white friends and families and neighbors everywhere, to take action. If we are not acting as part of the solution, we ARE the problem. We invite all community members to share your ideas on how ICG can be part of the solution, and what your commitment is to being part of the solution by completing this 2-question poll or reaching out to We know we can achieve great things when we work together.

We don’t and won’t support a system that allows Black and Brown people to continually get harassed, threatened, demeaned, abused, and killed with no culpability. If we are really providing programs and services for children, we must show our children that we can change. We must show our children that they deserve better. That they are worth more, because we believe with our whole hearts that they are.

We commit to channeling our energy and resources into educating ourselves and our community about issues of racial justice, police violence, white privilege, and our collective duty to do more, do better, and do it now. Every nonprofit organization and agency is impacted by white privilege and racial injustice. Thus, not one of us can carry out our work with only a statement. The real impact comes from what happens next. Black and Brown people have waited far too long for justice. How will we work to bring them the justice they deserve? 

We urge you to join us in reading, among others, the work of Dr. Corliss Outley and Dr. Harrison Pinckney, whose seminal essay “Playing While Black” addresses the impact of race on the recreation of Black youth; Dr. J. Drew Lanham, whose work interrogates the role culture plays in perceptions of nature; and Dr. Carolyn Finney, whose book Black Faces, White Spaces: Reimagining the Relationship of African Americans to the Great Outdoorsunpacks the ways in which nature and the environment are racialized in America. We also invite you to watch Dr. Outley and Dr. Pinckney respond to “Playing While Black” in their keynote presentation at ICG’s 2019 Play Symposium.

We also urge the ICG community to engage with and support Black and Brown led organizations in our community, including Alliance of Families for JusticeBlack Lives Matter – IthacaDorothy Cotton InstituteGreater Ithaca Activities CenterLatino Civic Association of Tompkins CountyMulticultural Resource CenterSouthside Community Center, and organizations that center and celebrate Black people in outdoor spaces, including Outdoor AfroBlack Outside, IncCamp Founder GirlsGreening Youth Foundation, and Soul Trak Outdoors.

We hope that the Garden can provide a refuge for connection, reflection, resilience-building, recreation, and renewal. We extend a special invitation to our Black and Brown community members to come enjoy the Garden -YOUR Garden-any day of the year, dawn to dusk, always at no cost.
The entire team at ICG commits to redoubling our efforts to dismantle white supremacy, so that every child can enjoy their basic human right to play, learn, and grow outdoors.


Join us in reading the work of:

Dr. Corliss Outley & Dr. Harrison Pinckney

  • Dr. Outley and Dr. Pinckney’s seminal essay “Playing While Black” addresses the impact of race on the recreation of Black youth.
  • Watch their keynote presentation from ICG’s 2019 Play Symposium, “You’ve Read the Paper… Now What?” in which they provide tangible steps to play providers for creating safe spaces for Black and other racial and ethnic minority youth to enjoy play.

Dr. Carolyn Finney

Dr. Carolyn Finney’s book Black Faces, White Spaces: Reimagining the Relationship of African-Americans to the Great Outdoors unpacks the ways in which nature and the environment are racialized in America.

Dr. J. Drew Lanham

Author, poet, and wildlife ecologist and wildlife biologist, J. Drew Lanham interrogates the influence of culture on perceptions of nature. The sharp wit doesn’t hurt.

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