This article is part of Rails-to-Trails Conservancy’s Trail Moments initiative—to elevate new and tried-and-true trail voices around the country, and how trails impact the lives of Americans. Learn more at trailmoments.org and #TrailMoments on social media. Share your story, or view a collection of trail moments stories.
“Being outdoors gives people time to rest and recharge, which pushes back on the notion that the busier we are, the more valuable we are. As a result, we’re better able to show up for ourselves, for our families and for one another."
—Ivory Levert and Angela Mitchell, Co-Founders, Black Women In Nature
We’re fortunate to have trails connecting people and places all over the country! However, not everyone is familiar with, or has access to, these vital outdoor spaces, yet. That’s why we’re extra fortunate to have individuals and groups who are helping people to learn about, connect with, feel welcome on, and find community and joy on America’s trails.
#TeamRTC recently got to know a duo who is doing this type of awesome work—the co-founders of a group called Black Women In Nature—and we were so excited to have an opportunity to share their #TrailMoments with you.
Meet Ivory Levert and Angela Mitchell, the power pair beyond Black Women In Nature, and learn how they’re inspiring more people to get outside on the trail!
Tell us a bit more about you both and how Black Women In Nature came to be?
It all stems from our desire to help Black women be the best version of themselves. Ivory is a certified yoga and meditation guide, and Angela is a professional fitness competitor and health and wellness advocate. We both have a passion for health and wellness and helping women. So, in fall 2020, we teamed up to create a safe space for Black women to foster sisterhood and reconnect to their ancestral roots through the outdoors.
Why did you decide to start planning group events, and why do you share those experiences with others through @BlkWomenInNature?
Black Women In Nature was started during the height of the pandemic. After navigating feelings of loneliness and isolation, as well as fear and anger after the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, we really wanted to create space for Black women to just be, and we felt like nature was the perfect space for that. We combined our experience and passions around mindfulness, wellness and environmental awareness to bring Black women together to foster community and welcome a sense of release from the everyday pressures of life.
How do you choose your event locations, and what role do trails play?
At the time, we were all individually interested in exploring the numerous metro parks we have available in Columbus. We always knew we would expand our locations across the city and beyond, and now feels like a great time to do that with our new awareness of the various greenways and other types of trails connected to the Great American Rail-Trail®, which will seamlessly link Ohio to Washington, D.C., and Washington State by trail.
Your #TrailMoments took you on the Alum Creek Trail in Ohio. How was that experience?
Absolutely beautiful! We loved that we could find moments of stillness to bask in nature's glory by observing the ginormous trees, the Alum creek, and the squirrels and birds at play. With this being a multiuse space, we also loved seeing folks out with their families [doing activities together] such as playing basketball, inline skating and so much more!
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Did you view your #TrailMoments experience differently at all knowing that you were on a part of the Great American Rail-Trail, which, when complete, will provide opportunities for people to walk, bike and spend time outside along a connected cross-country route of 3,700 miles?
It was absolutely amazing to be connected to such an expansive trail!! It was like a mini getaway in the heart of the city! We’ve visited the Alum Creek Greenway Trail numerous times, but knowing that we were there and part of the Great American Rail Trail made it that much more special this time around.
What’s your favorite part of bringing people together on trails and in the outdoors?
Honestly, our favorite part is seeing everyone enjoying nature, embracing a sense of adventure, and inviting a moment of peace and rest into [their] lives. It seems that many people in today’s world live in a “grind culture,” which suggests that our value is derived by how much we do and how much we work. Being outdoors gives people time to rest and recharge, which pushes back on the notion that the busier we are, the more valuable we are. As a result, we’re better able to show up for ourselves, for our families and for one another.
Do you have any tips you’d like to share about getting outside?
Wow! Where do we begin?
One key recommendation we have is to try to get outside once a day, even if only for a few minutes. Perhaps start with a short solo walk or take a walk at lunch. Take short breaks outside throughout the day. Eat outside. There are so many options! The important thing is to prioritize time outdoors.
One of the things our participants like about Black Women In Nature is the sense of safety and sisterhood they feel being together outdoors. Invite a friend or a colleague to join you!
Are there any upcoming projects or updates that you’d like for people to know? How can they keep up and connect with Black Women In Nature?
Right now, we’re gearing up for our Fall series, which will consist of a few weekend meetups along with a half-day retreat at Blacklick Woods Metro Park in early November.
The best way to learn more about that series and our other projects is through social media. We hope everyone will connect with us by following @Blkwomeninnature on Instagram or Facebook!
Have you recently discovered trails, or are you a long-time trail enthusiast? Either way, we hope you’ll share your “Trail Moments”—and the stories of how trails have impacted your life. Take the survey below, or share using #TrailMoments on social media. Toma la encuesta en Español.