Jun 8, 2023 36 min read

Diversity Education in Nature

Image of hiker (Dan) standing on high rock overlooking distant valley with quote from transcript.

Episode 47, 54 min listen

If you have ever wondered what nature has to teach us about diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging, this episode is for you. In our discussion with Dan Kriesberg and Camille Simone Edwards, we'll explore how learning about and getting in touch with the diversity in the outer world will help us better embrace diversity in our inner world and in our community.      

This episode is an interview by host Tania Marien, originally aired on her podcast, Talaterra.


Listen on Apple Podcasts   or    Listen on Spotify


Learn more about Diversity Education in Nature (DEIN)

Read a recent article featuring the Diversity Education in Nature approach.

Contact Dan or Camille at DEINConsulting@gmail.com

Read the text of An Invitation to a Brave Space.

Learn more about Radical Empathy and author Terri Givens.

Visit the Talaterra website, learn more about Tania's work, and listen to more episodes there.


Dan Kriesberg is the author of two books for teachers, as well as over 100 articles on environmental education and essays about his experiences in the outdoors. He lives on Long Island with his wife, Karen. Ever since a young age, whenever possible, Dan spends his time in wild places backpacking, hiking, and hanging out. You can view more of his work at Witness to the Wild. https://www.dankriesberg.com/


Learn more about Camille by visiting: Camille Simone Consulting.


-Episode Introduction

Ame Sanders  00:11

This is the State of Inclusion podcast, where we explore topics at the intersection of equity, inclusion, and community. In each episode, we meet people who are changing their communities for the better, and we discover actions that each of us can take to improve our own communities.

I'm Ame Sanders. Welcome.

If you have ever wondered what nature has to teach us about diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging, this episode is for you. When I heard this episode on one of my favorite podcasts, Talaterra, I knew the message fit right in with what we've been talking about for so long. So, I reached out to my friend Tania Marien, host of Talaterra, and asked if I could share her episode with all of you on State of Inclusion. And she said yes.

So, what follows is Tania's Interview with Dan Kriesberg and Camille Simone Edwards, as they talk about their venture, Diversity Education in Nature. Along the way, they're going to touch on concepts such as biodiversity, radical empathy, mutualism, creating brave spaces, and how to be respectfully curious. They remind us that we can each take a lesson from nature about the importance and power of diversity and belonging. It doesn't matter if we're eight or eighty. The lessons are still there for us if we're willing to learn. As we're moving into summer and all hopefully spending more time out in nature, this is a great episode to listen to while you're out on a walk. I first listened to it while I was on a hike in the western North Carolina mountains.

This is the first time I've ever shared an episode from another podcast here on State of Inclusion, but it felt like there was nothing for me to add to the conversation, so I haven't changed a word of their interview. I simply wanted to share the discussion and lift up Dan and Camille's work, while also showcasing the wonderful work of my friend Tania. Join me as we listen in.

-Welcome and Guest Introductions

Tania Marien  02:24

Dan and Camille, thank you so much for stopping by today and introducing us to Diversity Education in Nature. I so appreciate Dan for reaching out and introducing both of you to me through email. Would you mind introducing yourself to listeners, please?

Dan Kriesberg  02:44

My name is Dan Kriesberg. I'm a sixth-grade science teacher at Friends Academy. It's a Quaker independent school on Long Island. I've been teaching there for almost 20 years--sixth-grade science. I've also been an outdoor educator ever since I graduated college. So, it's been a long time doing that work at different nature centers, other schools, and some independent work as well, and just love being outside.

Camille Simone Edwards  03:12

Hello, everyone. My name is Camille Simone Edwards, colleague, and partner to Dan Kriesberg. I also work at the same Quaker independent school on Long Island. Here, I am our Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. I've been doing DEI work at this particular independent school since 2012, but I have been the DEI Officer of this school for the last five years. Outside of this space, I work as an equity practitioner and personal development coach, and consultant.

-Engaging Both Children and Adults

Tania Marien  03:45

Wonderful, thank you. So, I'm going to begin by making a general statement about the field of environmental education, and this is that most of the time, you see activities that are targeted toward K-12 students. Your program, Diversity Education in Nature, is not, and the difference jumped out at me in two places. One is where you describe your program, and most organizations don't talk about corporate settings. You do. You talk about your work in corporate settings.

The other place is in the types of activities that you share in the sample pages for the Go-In guide--the walking guide that you have, and in particular, the biomimicry page and the things that you lead the participants through there. I think that it is a good challenge and good fun for all ages, but that one, in particular, stood out to me as I suspect, being of particular interest and engaging to more adult audiences and how that could be just a springboard to all sorts of conversations. That's what popped into my head. Let's begin with how your collaboration began. What spark gave rise to Diversity Education in Nature?

Dan Kriesberg  05:14

Well, our school was in person in 2021, and I was just looking for any opportunity I could do to teach outside because that's one place we could take off our masks. It was much easier to teach that way. It was also a time at our school when there was a lot of conversation and talk about how we can do more DEI work. And Camille was incredible about, you know, talking to the faculty and talking to everyone about, "We need to do this. It's okay to ask questions. If you have any ideas, I want to work in the classroom. I want to work with you." She really sent that message very powerfully.

So, as I sort of had this idea, because I taught some biomimicry before. But then, you know, once you start thinking about how much ecosystems in nature are doing that we could model in the DEI space, it's like, "Oh, wait!" So, I came up with the science side of it, the ecology, and the activity side of it. I knew I didn't know enough to how to tie DEI in. So, I took Camille's invitation. She came over one day, and we met out on the steps of our library because we didn't want to be inside. We walked through it, and then after that it was one conversation after another just led to what we're doing now. What became so powerful for me is, at that time, I was looking at how could I be part of the movement, make some contribution is everything else that was going on. I thought, "Alright. I love being outdoors. I know a lot about teaching. Maybe this is going to be a way to be able to have a meaningful contribution." So, it's just been incredible.

Camille Simone Edwards  07:04

Absolutely. I think that for me, what connects to that thought is that, as a practitioner, you were just trying to help people in your communities find their access points, right? Everybody doesn't come to work every day going, "I feel comfortable and confident doing diversity, equity, inclusion, social justice work. I know what my access point. I know how to..." Everybody's in their own space, and we really want to meet people where they are.

So, for me, anytime a colleague can pick up the phone and say, "I think I got an idea. I want to try something." My answer is yes, let's figure that out. Let's find this access point. Because authenticity is so important in this work because people have to be able to sustain the work that they're doing. So, when Dan said, "I've got these ideas. I'm looking for a place to kind of build, and I'm wondering if you want to do some of this work together," my response was, "Of course."

What started as working on four or five lessons with his in sixth-grade class has now become for us an entire platform and community's worth of work and offerings and programs. So, it's a powerful moment to think about how two folks that are in a community that have known each other for years came into this unique kind of partnership. What we're doing today, we only feel grateful for

-About the Program and Activities

Tania Marien  07:12

You have programs or activities. I don't wanna call them activities, because they're more than that. Do you call them you call them activities? Well, I know you call them activities, but it just sounds so school.

Dan Kriesberg  08:40

They're activities within a greater program. So, I guess activities within a work applicative program.

Tania Marien  08:49

Yeah. You set the stage for conversations with different age groups. How many age groups do you include in your program, and how many settings have you held conversations in?

Camille Simone Edwards  09:03

Absolutely. I'm happy to talk about what we've framed up so far and what we hope to live more into. Then Dan, weave in wherever you feel comfortable, friend. Grateful for your voice all the time. So, what we've established with Diversity, Education in Nature, are really four versions of this program. Some of the activities are the same, some of the workshop materials are the same, and then some are unique to the stakeholder group that we are targeting in the offering.

So, version one is for students, version two is for educators, version three is for organizations in any sphere or industry of work, and version four is specific to practitioners--people who are every day in the work that they do, identifying as practitioners no matter what their job title is, and are trying to find ways to do this work. So, to that effect, we know that the work that we're doing for students, charts K-12, and it's all about development and scaffolding for lessons. For our educators, it's educators at any kind of school, teaching any age of child that's really focused on guiding crucial conversations that pertain to identity and community building and meaningful change with regard to supporting a school in their diversity, equity, and inclusion goals. In a strategic sense, it's great for school leaders, classroom teachers, administrators, anybody.

Then, the organizational work is really about making sure that we're getting up alongside organizations to help them use Earth as a role model for fierce conversations they want to have about their human ecosystem within an organizational context and setting. Then the work for practitioners is all about personal resilience and helping them build a toolkit for sustaining DEIB work. At present, we've worked with adults in schools in all kinds of roles, and students in various grade levels. We are hoping to be invited into spaces where we can work with organizations. We also have done some great work so far with practitioners. So, we offer equity seminars and one-day workshops, and a plethora of things. So, that's the landscape at the 20,000 feet view.

Tania Marien  11:07

Yeah, that sounds great. Do you do online programs as well, or is everything face-to-face? Or do you travel a lot for your programs?

Dan Kriesberg  11:16

Well, that's on the agenda is to have an online program. We're very excited about that possibility. Because as much fun as it would be to travel all over the country and the world, we won't be able to. The idea would be that there would be like a workbook or activities and that people would do that wherever they are. They could come back to us, maybe Zoom with them, or Riverside, or whatever platform might be good. That would be an option so that people could work because you there's a lot you could do individually or to have groups. So yeah, we're hoping to have that.

Camille Simone Edwards  11:50

Absolutely. Yeah, absolutely. We're really excited about the potential of this--Dan was really fierce about helping us kind of configure this--that we're able to bring the outdoors inside, too. So, we're not bound by what a group has to offer or has access to. We're really thinking about how to do this work indoors and outdoors, as well as what content we can offer in person and digitally because we're also thinking about equity. There may be people that find us that don't have a way to get us to them. But by offering an online platform and building an online community, we're really thinking about how we just kind of get the groundswell underneath this work a bit and be connected to anyone who would like to be connected to the DEIN.

-Brave Spaces vs Safe Spaces

Tania Marien  12:31

Yeah, yeah. Okay, so Camille, you use an acronym just a little bit ago, DEIB. And at Diversity, Education in Nature, you focus on diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging. That's the DEIB acronym. I read that you emphasize brave spaces over safe spaces. How did you come to take this position?

Camille Simone Edwards  12:57

Absolutely. This is a wonderful question. So, there's beautiful, shared common language in the work of practitionership. When we talk about brave spaces, as DEI practitioners, there's beautiful writing out there. One of the things that we share with our participants is a piece written by Mickey Scottbey Jones, called Invitation to a Brave Space. It's not very many lines, would you be open to me reading it to listeners? Okay. So, the idea is that we have an opportunity to have an invitation to building brave spaces when we are together and learning.

So, the words are like this.

"Together, we will create brave space, because there is no such thing as a safe space. We exist in the real world. We all carry scars, and we all have caused wounds. In this space, we seek to turn down the volume of the outside world. We amplify voices that fight to be heard elsewhere. We call each other to more truth and love. We have the right to start somewhere and continue to grow. We have the responsibility to examine what we think we know. We will not be perfect. It will not always be what we wish it to be. But it will be our brave space together, and we will work on it side by side."

So, this is, again, Mickey Scottbey Jones. Many practitioners talk about the difference of a brave space and a safe space. And what we generally know--and when we talk about safety, we mean emotional safety, psychological safety. We want people to know that in spaces where we're stretching a little bit outside of our comfort zone, we want people to think of the fact that it has to be brave, that there is a stretch. They shouldn't expect pain, but they should welcome discomfort, and that we cannot guarantee safety in every single moment. Because safety means different things to different people, and when we're stepping outside of our comfort zone, sometimes what is psychologically or emotionally safe for one person might not be the same for another.

So, we agree that we're stepping into a space with bravery on our hearts and minds knowing that it's going to be vulnerable, because we don't walk through life protected every moment in every day from things that causes harm, or disruption, or pain. But together, we accept those sorts of terms of engagement, as we do this public learning together about things that are difficult to talk about, no matter how old you are.

Tania Marien  15:19

Dan, how do students embrace brave spaces? What is their response?

Dan Kriesberg  15:27

They like it. They like the opportunity to speak up. One of the things that Camille really brought to my attention is the idea that these low-stakes conversations are really important. It's almost like you need practice. When I first started thinking about this, I was all about, we have to solve this problem and that problem and this, this, this. And she said, "No, we have to kind of allow them just to talk about their friends in a way that they can start to talk about some of the differences. And that's not always the big issue." So, by prefacing that, they realized it's okay to ask. Some are still really nervous. "Are we really allowed to say that word or talk about that?" But, it opens it up, and it's been powerful. Even when we open up with an adult group, that poem sets a good stage.

Tania Marien  16:22

Yes, that was my next question. How do the adult participants respond to brave spaces? I just love the posture that you're taking, the position that you've taken there.

Camille Simone Edwards  16:35

Well, thank you for that. I think we're learning in real time because it tells us a lot about a community when we see how adults or students respond to this invitation. I think that one thing that we learned culturally, working with adults in any industry, is what the culture of that industry says about taking risks, what the culture of that industry says about perfectionism, what the culture of that industry says about what should be predictable and controllable and what success looks like.

Because by and large, as adults, we think that we should show up in a certain way and be ready for anything, and we don't necessarily put ourselves in situations, once we're in an arena, where we have prowess and ethos to be sort of taken off of that posture. We don't necessarily set ourselves up for things that feel uncomfortable. We don't choose or elect that every single day, depending on what work we're in. Because the work that we're in is requiring a certain positioning, where you have to be comfortable and confident. A lot of this work takes people off their axis.

So, we have found, I believe, that there's a really mixed bag. People are maybe a little nervous at the beginning but then are taking it in like water. Like, "Oh, my goodness, I didn't realize how applicable this was." Or, "Oh, my goodness, this is exactly what I thought it was gonna be. This water is so good." Or, "Oh my goodness, this is a lot of water. I don't think I want all of his water at one time." But at the end, they're going, "Wow, that was refreshing." So, we are definitely getting enough data that lets us know that our adults that we meet need this and want this as much as young people do. Depending on what industry they're in, they just don't have proximity to what the value might be at the onset. The curiosity is there, and the openness is there, and the willingness to grow across different stakeholder groups is something that we see.

Dan Kriesberg  18:29

What we're also finding is that (and this is for all ages) by engaging in outdoor activity first, or whenever we have the indoor version, it kind of starts to break down some of the barriers. They're doing things that they might not normally do. Whether that's building a bird nest with their own hands, or collecting insects, or digging in the soil to find whatever they can find the soil, or look at all the different kind of trees, or playing certain games, that sort of starts to break down the barriers. They start to feel more comfortable. It can lead to more opening to then having these kinds of conversations. In a way they're having fun. So, they're having a lot of fun, and now we're gonna talk about this, but it's starting with some laughs and smiles.

-Ecological Concepts

Tania Marien  19:22

Another thing that stood out to me is that you don't necessarily take an activity approach--there's that word again. I'm using that word again--an activity approach. You focus on ecological concepts. Which concepts do you focus on, and how do they relate to diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging?

Dan Kriesberg  19:43

Well, we started off--this isn't so much an ecological concept, but we started off with the idea that there are certain skills that the more we practice these skills, the more they're going to help us in being able to discuss and act on DEIB. So, one of the skills is empathy. So, we have an activity where they're trying to build a bird nest with their hands or with tweezers or clothespins. Then, that leads to conversations about empathy and radical empathy.

We have some activities about noticing patterns because that's the skill of pattern-seeking. You can see where things are working and things are not working. We have some activities about wonder, just asking questions.

Then we have some activities about creativity because we need to be creative. So, that sort of sets the stage where they're just learning the skills. Then the three big ecological concepts. One of them is biodiversity. So, we have some activities where they're learning about the biodiversity in the place they are. And then that leads to conversations about diversity. We need the biodiversity of our stable ecosystem. That's why we need diversity for our human ecosystem.

Then we have some activities about mutualism, the way organisms benefit each other in relationship, and then that translates to how can our gifts and the skills that we have benefit each other? We have some activities on that. Then, the third one is ecosystem interrelationships, just the way that an impact in one place can spread to others. You can have a positive impact in one place. Throughout this, we're using different animals and plants, and organisms as role models. So, like the beaver is our role model for ecosystem interrelationships. Lichen is our role model for mutualism. By having all these ecological concepts that just translates to like, "Oh, this is what would help our own community." Whether it's in my family, my friend, my group, my classroom, my school, my community, whatever the group is.

-Radical Empathy

Tania Marien  21:46

That's beautiful. That is a really big-picture, holistic approach. That's exciting. That's very exciting. Dan, you shared in your message to me that your program is about building radical empathy. In what ways do you do that? Can you provide an example of how you do that?

Dan Kriesberg  22:09

I'm going to mostly let Camille answer that question. The birds nest activity is to give them a chance to see what it's like to be a bird. Where do you find the materials that you need? Where are you going to put your nest so that it's safe? How is it possible that a bird can do this with their mouth? We joke around like, "Oh, you should build the nest with your mouth." I mean, that's what the bird is doing. Just giving them that experience.

We have another game where they're role-playing chipmunks and foxes, and they have to sort of figure out in their role gathering food, when to protect when to find protection. So, there are chances for them to have the idea of what it's like to be another being. After they have those activities, then we discuss radical empathy. But I'm gonna let Camille explain that because she does it so more beautifully than I do.

Camille Simone Edwards  23:04

Oh, well, this is where our partnership is one where we are really continuing to lean on each other and be teachers of each other. Dan teaches me new things about science every single day, genuinely. And so, I'm grateful to be thinking about how we work together to grow and partner as we educate communities. It's been amazing.

So, happy to talk about radical empathy. So, we take empathy, this idea that most young people that we work with have heard the word, or adults are like, "Yeah, I know what empathy is." But we take this idea of empathy and understanding. This idea that we're here to notice one another and that we're thinking to ourselves, "I seek to know you because I want to understand." But we want to take it one step further, and we are really inspired by the work of Terri E. Givens around radical empathy. This idea that radical empathy is empathy taken multiple steps beyond where we usually stop.

So, it's actually practicing empathy, having an empathetic practice, which I'll talk about, but it looks like becoming grounded in who you are. It looks like having a willingness to be vulnerable. We see how all these things might connect to being in a brave space. It talks about opening yourself to the experience of others. It talks about creating change and building trust. And then, perhaps most importantly, which adults and young people, when they hear this, they go, "Oh, taking action." It has to get sticky. So, it's not just about what's happening here and what I'm thinking, "I've learned this thing about this person, and now I understand them." Wonderful. Now, what will you do with this newfound sense of understanding?

DEIN uses the earth as one of our greatest teachers to say look at all of these things that the earth demonstrates and shows us how to do. How can we be more Earth-like is one of the questions that we're asking. So, when we talk about radical empathy, and Dan talked about how some of our activities directly lead us to thinking about being empathetic spirits, one of the examples that I would connect us to is, so if we're thinking about empathy looking like coming to a sense of understanding, then radical empathy is this idea that it's empathy in action. Empathy as a practice. Great. So, if empathy is actually a skill, how do we do the work of making that active?

So, one of the things that we will ask students and adults to do is start to do some self-reflection. So, pattern seeking, they're doing some noticing, they're doing some wondering. We ask people to think about empathy as something they can demonstrate through attentiveness. So, how can you be attentive to others, right? Because if you're going to do the work of growing to understand, you've got to be watching. And if you're watching and listening, you're getting new data and to understand and now what can you be attentive to? So, that's a way to turn something that you've learned into an action.

So, one of the questions we might ask our participants is how can you be more attentive to this said classmate, or this said colleague in a way that's going to help you be in a healthier relationship to yourself? To them? So, you're taking empathy and kind of putting it out in front of you and saying, what would an empathetic practice become? What is something in your life right now that deserves more of your attention? Then giving them an opportunity to think, okay, if I'm going to be empathetic, and I want to practice empathy, how can I apply that attentiveness to my own life? Then they can flip it around and go, "Great. Now how can I apply this attentiveness to this relationship that maybe I'm struggling to be in friendship with this classmate? Or I'm struggling because you're my new boss."

So, we're trying to take all of these skills while using these examples of biomimicry and mutualism and interrelationships and wild nature and going, what does the wild nature ecosystem do so beautifully that we could intentionally practice in our human ecosystem?

Dan Kriesberg  26:56

And what then happens is that, say, that's the activity where they're collecting insects. They start asking lots of questions about the insects. What kind is that one? Why does that one have stripes? They're feeling very free about asking questions. Then that can lead to, okay why was it easy to ask questions about all these insects, and sometimes not easy to ask questions about your friends? How do you ask a question with respect? Because we want to get to know each other.

One of the lines we’ve been sort of trying to get across is—hopefully, I'll do it correctly: "Instead of trying to find out how much you're like me, I want to learn more about what it's like to be you." So, asking questions with positive intent, but also realizing that maybe sometimes you do ask a question that wasn't as you might have done with great intention, but maybe the impact isn't what you want it. But, the only way to learn is to ask questions, and that practicing asking questions with wild nature opens the door practicing asking questions within your human ecosystem. Right. Yeah.

-Developing the Program and Targeting Schools & Corporate

Tania Marien  28:07

So, you lead this program throughout the school year? I think it's primarily through the school year, but also through summer sessions, after school sessions? I mean, where does it fit in your work day--your programs, your school programs?

Camille Simone Edwards  28:26

Dan, would you like to share a little bit about what it looks like during the scope of the school year, and I can talk about other pieces?

Dan Kriesberg  28:32

Okay. Well, I mean, we both have full-time jobs. So, right now, it's kind of, we work on it in the evenings and in the mornings, and the weekends. We meet at school, we have Zoom meetings. We're just kind of, at this point in a way, just finding a time when we can. We have been able to go to some conferences, visit some schools during the year. This summer, we're hopefully going to be able to put a little bit of a lot more time into it during the summer. We're hoping to eventually get more and more groups that we're working with, and then as we get more time, it can just expand, expand, expand it. Yeah, we wish there was more time. We want more time because we have so many ideas.

Tania Marien  29:26

Yeah, yeah. So go ahead, Camille, you could go ahead and answer.

Camille Simone Edwards  29:32

It's just a mix of things right now. I mean, we are fairly young. DEIN is fairly young, is what I mean. We're trying to figure out all of the ways we want this work to live and what we want it to be, which is why at this juncture, we're calling it a program that we've designed together that has several different kinds of offerings. Our work right now is pushing into communities in the ways that feel and make the most sense to us.

So, we have the curriculum that happens within the scope of the school year that happens through Dan's class. But last year, we started offering it as after-school workshops for colleagues, that just could give us a one-off here and a one-off there. And that felt really great. Coming back from presenting at the People of Color Conference last fall gave us some ideas about what it would feel like to create an equity seminar.

So, we're doing a Saturday equity seminar on Earth Day this year, because we thought, why not? Why not create another container for this to live in? So, we're doing a lot of what I would say, just like session design and unit design and finding different frameworks for parts of our work to live in, so that we can kind of meet people where they're at. We've had people ask us about online coaching and about online communities, and so we're sort of just in a space where we are exploring, responding to what people feel like they need, and trying to package this content in different ways that people are interested in interacting with. But in our in our imaginations and in the world of worlds, this work lives all year round with many different kinds of stakeholder groups and has lots of different frames.

Tania Marien  31:06

Yes, yeah. I would think that the extended learning community (the after-school people, the summer school people, intercession groups), those educators also will find this program wonderful because they can add such a different dimension to what they do to their programs.

So, another thing that stood out for me, lots of things stood out for me as I was reading and learning about your programs, is that you reach beyond the field of environmental education. Tell us about your corporate work. Who do you speak with in corporate settings?

Camille Simone Edwards  31:51

So, this is a new space for us. We are hopefuls in that arena. That version of our program is designed and living. But we are not yet because of how we've lived our lives so far, gone beyond educators, students, and practitioners. So, that is a space that we hope to be in, knowing that we have folks that we've met already that have interest in us being connected to their organizations. We have gotten feedback that we seem to be the kind of program that might be low stakes, but good strong DEIB, professional development offerings for organizations of all kinds.

Dan, I leave space for you to add more there that you might want to say. But that's just an arena that we know that we have an opportunity with, and a group of folks that we are hopeful, to be connected to in the future. So, that's just one of our newest components.

Dan Kriesberg  32:51

Yeah, we're very excited to explore that version of DEIN and start to work with some of those groups. In sort of talking with people informally, there is some concern. You hear that a lot of DEI work in corporations ends up backfiring. There's a lot of resistance. It can sometimes make the situation worse. So, we're thinking that this is a different way, like I said before, it starts with some fun. It starts with some ways where people are working together interacting and then builds into some of the other conversations and, ideas and actions.

But, we want to have something that's measurable, that something has a positive impact. We want to be very mindful that when we're going into the organization that it's going to be positive, and that we're doing something that's going to help

Camille Simone Edwards  33:50

Absolutely. And something that's different. You know, that was one of the first things that people said when they started looking at our work-- that it just feels so different from other DEI learning or training, right? Because that is also really popular language in the field that people hear about. They're like, "Wait a minute. You're saying that you would come, and we would go outside, and we would do what? Or that you could bring that inside, and we could do what? That seems so low stakes and less scary and less right polarizing." All of these things. So, we're hoping to meet people in the very near future. But we sort of started taking our show on the road only a year and a half ago. So, we're new out here and excited to meet folks.

Dan Kriesberg  34:32

I think another part of it is that there's the DEI component, but what we've discovered and been super exciting is that since just going outside is such a benefit for your health and emotional health, physical health, that in a way, even if the DEI, there's not this dramatic change in that, people are getting outside. They're getting excited about the outdoors. They're becoming more comfortable in the outdoors. That's a real positive, too.

If they're gaining a sense of belonging to the outdoors and wild nature and getting a sense of belonging to their community, it's good all around. This is the one thing that Camille taught me at the very beginning. We're not going to come into some organization and just like fix it, but we can get things started. I keep coming back and keep going back to it's just good to be outside. That's gonna be helpful for everybody.

-Summer Camps

Tania Marien  35:40

Dan, you have years and years of experience as a science teacher, as an environmental educator. You've written books. You've authored, what, 100 articles? So, there are many points of entry. Many ways to start your conversations. This is such exciting work. Does it have you digging through your file cabinets, reminding yourself of what you did and all the good work that you've done?

Dan Kriesberg  36:08

Well, yes. Sort of an aside story, right now, we're taking the sixth grade on an overnight outdoor education trip to the residential nature center where I first started. It's been a few years since we've done it, so kind of getting it all together. So, I was talking with the nurse at our school because you have to arrange all the medical forms.

She's like, "Oh, are you going to Greenkill?" She was like, "I remember you from I went to Greenkill like thirty years ago." Daisy. So, that sort of blew my mind about how long I've been doing it. Just sort of realizing how much of the same what I learned in those early years--I'm saying 30 it's really 40--here, I am using them still and bringing them in this whole new work.

So, yeah, it is super exciting to kind of go back and be like "Oh, yeah." Or even just, "Oh, those are quotes that I used to use." Or there's this or that. It's just exciting to have this whole kind of revises. I don't know if that's the right words. To answer your question, yes. Sorry. Does it answer your question?

Tania Marien  37:23

Yes. It absolutely does. My own experiences with outdoor camp, very limited. The last time I went as an adult in 2018. I had so much fun. I was so impressed with these young educators and their energy, how thoughtful they are, and how inclusive they are. They really want to make sure people feel safe and comfortable. Just the whole weekend, that whole conference, it was really positive experience. So, I can only imagine that when you take your class out there, it's just going to be that plus so much more. Then when you take adults out there--I don't know where you would take adults. Would you take adults to that same type of a setting, or would you take to someplace else?

Dan Kriesberg  38:23

That's it. We're open to everything. We have so much we want to share. So much where we can probably have a whole weeklong session just because we keep getting new ideas, new ideas. Like when we did our equity seminar at the People of Color Conference, well we have three and a half hours. And then we didn't even get through everything. So, yeah, it'd be cool to have like a weekend retreat. You could just do so many good things.

-What's Next for DEIN

Tania Marien  38:55

Okay, so you have programs for your students. You have programs for reaching out to other educators, extended learning professionals. You're reaching out to parents. You're reaching out to businesspeople and other professionals outside of the field of education. What's next for you?

Camille Simone Edwards  39:23

So, Dan and I have so many dreams and so many things that we're excited to do together. One of the first things that I would pick up out of that beautiful big bucket that just keeps getting more stuff in it is that what's next for us is just building community. We are meeting people and what we hope is that we can create a movement that will bring people together, but then keep them in a sustained dialogue and keep them together.

So, not thinking about becoming that program that a company sees one time and they're like, "Oh, yeah. We did that one thing years ago. " And even if you know, a company, it was only bringing us one time knowing that there are five people that we met that day, that have become a part of this DEIN community of their own choosing. Because what we also hope to do is to create an impact through others, right? We're not teaching about radical empathy because we want people to think about it for a moment.

Dan and I came together and then stayed together because this could have just been isolated to his sixth-grade class. We came together, and then we stuck together because we care about this work living through people. For us, it's not a one-time thing or that thing you did one time, but we hope that people will build new friendships because of this. We hope that people will join us if we ever created an online community because of this. We hope that people will follow the movement, but also become a part of what's happening.

I'm thinking about people that we met when we hosted our equity seminar at the People of Color Conference last year, that we're literally finding moments of, "I could be mentoring this person that's sitting across the room for me. How do I bring them into what I'm doing, even though I'm in this school over here?"

I'm thinking about this piece that we're doing on Earth Day this year, where people are going to be coming together from all so many schools, right? It gives people an opportunity to think about being a part of something. So, for me, of all of the many things that we could be designing next, or places we could go next, or pitches and proposals that we could be submitting next, my heart is so focused on how do we start building community. So, people don't think of us as something that they're consuming, right? Like a program--"I'm just going to consume this." But something that they're bearing witness to and then gonna become a part of so that we can be long-lasting changemakers. That's what I would say,

Dan Kriesberg  41:55

I agree. I'm all in for it. That's why I'm really grateful for being on this podcast because it's a way of just spreading the word and being involved. So much of this has been a learning process for me, learning so many things from Camille, and with the other people that we meet, learning from you. You know, this learning, it's a group effort.

Tania Marien  42:21

Yes, and that's a perfect way to explain it, Camille. It's not just something that is consumed. Your work, your program, is not something that's consumed. It's something that people stay engaged with, and I love what you said about bearing witness to its growth, what comes next, and being open to future partnerships and conversations with other people for the participants.

-DEIN as a Practice, Community, and Journey

Dan Kriesberg  42:48

If you just start thinking about it, just the habits. You have the habit of when I walk out the door, I'm gonna look up at the trees on my way to my car as you start to be feeling more sense of belonging. Or, I'm just going to get in the habit of being more mindful of how I'm speaking to a colleague who I don't know very well. Just start gaining all these little, you know, habits. So, it isn't just a one-time thing. These are just practices I'm gonna try to put into my life.

Camille Simone Edwards  43:20

I appreciate that, Dan. If I could say one more thing about it, because I was using a lot of words before because I was kind of feeling my way through it. But I think that if I could just summarize it into a thought, we don't want people to think that DEIN is a product. We're not selling a product. It can be really easy to see DEIN trainings and the DEIB workshops and think that you're just there. That's what I'm saying about that consuming piece, right? Like, we're gonna go buy this product.

That's not what it's about for Dan and I, and we want people to feel like DEIN is a community and we're having a journey. We want people to be a part of that journey, and we want to co-construct that experience. And we want people to collaborate with us on that experience.

I mean, we've met people, Dan, in the last few months that are like, "I want to know what you guys are thinking about and talking about, and I want to work with you." That, for me, is what makes it feel like the work that we're trying to put in front of people is something that we're inviting people to bear witness to, because we want it to be about the process and the journey and the storytelling and the learning. Not that that thing on the back of a brochure that you're like, "Do I want to have that? Would we like that? Would we like to own that or buy that?" But it's really about being a part of something with others in community.


Tania Marien  44:40

Beautiful. So, your Earth Day event. Will it happen on April 22 or will it be a weekend event?

Camille Simone Edwards  44:47

Dan, would you like to talk about it?

Dan Kriesberg  44:49

Yes, we're holding it at our school on Earth Day, April 22. There are some other local independent schools near us, so we invited all of them. But we are starting to branch out to find basically anyone that wants to join us. So, if there are any of your listeners that live on Long Island. Yeah, we've got some of our own colleagues that we are working with, so hopefully, we'll have a nice group and a beautiful day. But even if it's raining, doesn't matter, and we'll be able to really share and learn from others.

Camille Simone Edwards  45:28

Absolutely. I think what we would be saying is we are designing this specific event to give educators that we know of in the New York area that maybe you didn't have access to going to the People of Color Conference, to get kind of a taste of what we were presenting in our equity seminar right here on Long Island. Because we're always thinking about building community partnerships. We are thinking about opening up that list even more. We have enough facility space to host a beautiful group of people.

I agree with Dan--if somebody is in the New York area and curious and you're interested in just talking to us about it, you're more than welcome to contact us. I'm sure at some point, you'll ask us about our contact information. But we would welcome meeting new friends, especially if they're your listeners, and they're interested in sharing a little bit about who they are. We'd be happy to welcome them into some of these spaces with others that we're building.

-Where to Learn More

Tania Marien  46:20

Where can listeners learn more about you and reach out to you when they have questions about your program?

Dan Kriesberg  46:28

All right, well each of us, we have our own website and we also have a website for DEIN. So, for me, https://www.dankriesberg.com. So, this is probably the best one to try and get contact us directly is contactdeinconsulting@gmail.com.

Camille Simone Edwards  46:51

Absolutely. You can find me, Camille Simone Edwards, at CamilleSimoneconsulting.com. My email is Hello@CamilleSimoneconsulting.com. What Dan and I have done is made sure that on both of our websites, because we are both consultants outside of working in, our work here at school, we have embedded information about DEIN, so you can contact us about DEIN through either portal or pathway that you take.

Or you can reach us at the email alias that Dan shared because we share it and that's contactdeinconsulting@gmail.com. We are putting resources on our site page. We are always going to be talking to people about content, and we're happy to just start conversations. Like we said, it doesn't have to be about a product that you want to buy. It can be about building relationships. We love that.

-Future Target Audiences

Tania Marien  47:44

Thank you for that. Thank you for this information. And I'll make sure that it's all listed in the show notes, links to both of your websites. Is there an audience that you would like to connect with that you haven't been able to connect with?

Camille Simone Edwards  48:00

I love that question. Sorry, I just got so excited. My short answer would be people who are decision-makers in their organization. I think it's really easy to look at the work that we do and think, "Oh, this would be great for my people." I say that lovingly like, "My people. I love my people. Let's get my team there." And I'd love to know that we are in rooms, co-constructing experiences for decision-makers in organizations, knowing that schools are also organizations, right? That we are sitting at a table with people who are making decisions about things like culture, about things like pace, about things like productivity, about things like objectives and outcomes, and metrics for success.

These are folks that I would be grateful to know that we are meeting regularly and that we are not only meeting people that have been, you know, offered this opportunity on behalf of someone who's looking out for their organization as a decision maker. I would like to, and I know that Dan would too, philosophically based on how we're aligned, meet people that are making decisions about others, because this work is for everyone. Dan, what do you think? How about you?

Dan Kriesberg  49:20

Definitely. I would add also that, I'm able to get out. I have a lot of access to the outdoors. It's not a problem for me, I could go a lot more. But for a lot of people, they don't have that kind of access to the outdoors for a variety of reasons. I think it'd be really important for us to help people gain more access to the outdoors, people who might not have that opportunity for all the benefits that we gain from feeling a greater sense of belonging to nature. We all we all belong. We can't not belong. But not everybody feels like they belong. So, part of our work I'd like to see is more of that and talk to those people.

Tania Marien  50:11

Is there anything that I haven't asked that you would like to make sure listeners know about? Did I not ask a question that you would like to have answered?

-Conversations that Matter and Learning from the Earth

Camille Simone Edwards  50:23

It feels like the questions give us space to share a little bit about who we are and what we do and why we do it. I think that if there was something that I'd love to share, just as a closing thought, first is gratitude just for the space. It's so generous of you to invite us into your community of listenership and a podcast as just two guests. We're grateful for that opportunity.

I also would like to say that we are just here to help people have conversations that matter and to really think about everything the Earth can teach us about being a role model for care. So, if that even remotely interests you, as a thought or idea, and you're curious, you are two moments away from being able to reach out to us and to start a conversation that matters to you. I believe that communities can heal each other in concentric circles. We believe that this work is for everyone. And there is a way for us to commit to making sure anyone can have access to something that they can use in the work that we're doing to lead a more sustainable practice of living that's about inclusivity and belonging. So, thank you so much.

Dan Kriesberg  51:43

And that it doesn't have to take place in a national park. It can be a city park. It can be virtually anywhere. One of the things that we've sort of developed, we are calling it the continuum of wildness that, there's wildness everywhere. Some places have more or less human presence. But if you really want to start being attentive and paying attention, you can gain your sense of belonging in the middle of New York City, in the middle of Alaska. You just have to start paying attention, and the more you pay attention in both ways along the continuum, the more places you're going to have that sense of belonging.

Tania Marien  52:26

Thank you so much, Dan and Camille, for joining us today, and for teaching us so much.

Camille Simone Edwards  52:32

Thank you for having us.


Ame Sanders  52:35

Wasn't that interview a real treat? There are so many things that stood out for me. You know, we readily accept the value and importance of biodiversity in ecosystems and in nature. Yet still, people struggle with concepts of diversity in our community and organizations. And I know their training and programming must be incredible because this interview itself was just jam-packed with little lessons for us all.

From reminders about how to practice respectful curiosity, to share, and what radical empathy means. Oh, and the idea of using a beaver as a model to talk about mutualism and relationships. That's so creative and insightful. I loved, loved the small poem about creating a brave space. Isn't that just what we're all doing in this work? Thanks to Dan and Camille and we wish you the very best in your collaboration as you grow Diversity Education in Nature. Our world needs more of what you're offering. As always, we'll have links and more information in the show notes.

And thanks again to Tania Marien at Talaterra for allowing me to share this beautiful episode. Don't forget to check out some of her other episodes at Talaterra.com. This has been the State of Inclusion podcast. Join us again next time, and if you enjoyed this episode, the best compliment for our work is your willingness to share these ideas with others leave us a review. We'd love your comments. Thanks so much for listening.


Guests: Dan Kriesberg and Camille Simone Edwards

Host: Ame Sanders

Social Media and Marketing Coordinator: Kayla Nelson

Podcast Coordinator: Emma Winiski

Sound: FAROUT Media

Ame Sanders
Founder of State of Inclusion. A seasoned leader & change-maker, she is focused on positive change within communities.
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