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.
We love hearing about individuals who share their passion for the outdoors with others, which is why our team was excited to learn more about Valerie Pasión, an outings leader with Latino Outdoors in the Baltimore area. We hope you enjoy reading her responses and are inspired to share your own #TrailMoments with us.
What I do
I am privileged to have many opportunities for working, learning and playing. My work at the Patterson Park Audubon Center, graduate studies at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, and volunteer service-leadership with Latino Outdoors are all centered around my relationship with nature.
“We got this together. We can hold this together. I will continue to stand with you through it all. As so many others will too. You’re not alone. You have community here. I believe in you. And I love you and all of your parts that got you here and help you travel along the way."
—“The Pain We Carry” by Natalie Y. Gutiérrez, LMFT
Person I admire
I admire all the women around the world who choose to engage in subtle, everyday rebellion.
Why I started using trails
My relationship with cycling here in Baltimore grew from my experience using biking and walking as my primary modes of transportation during Peace Corps service. There were so many things I didn’t know I would love about using trails to get around. My physical and mental health improved, I got to slow down and look at the plants and the birds, and I could enjoy a commute as an enriching experience rather than a burden.
My favorite rail-trails
Related: Top 10 Trails in Maryland
Why trails/the outdoors are vital to quality of life in our communities
Trails bring everything together. They can meet so many different community needs: transit equity, human health, emissions reductions, native species habitat, erosion control, socioeconomic development, water quality—everything.
A meaningful life story
As the first person in my family for so many things—to be born in the United States, attend school here, travel through study abroad or through Peace Corps service—I feel a great responsibility. Not only to my parents for the sacrifices they’ve made for me, but also to every person, plant, animal, landscape that I have met and loved along the way.
How our collaboration with RTC is creating positive change in the community
Working with Rails-to-Trails Conservancy as a Latino Outdoors leader has opened a new avenue for connecting Latines of all backgrounds and intersecting identities to engage with the trails that we share. Having presence and representation in the [rail-trail] movement is key to making Latine community members feel we are welcomed and that we belong on the trails just as much as anyone else.
Related: Watch video of Valerie's remarks as part of "Creating Community Through Trail Networks" panel
Why I support RTC
I support RTC for valuing the voices and lived experiences of local communities here in Baltimore and doing their best to elevate our perspectives on the future of trails.