Amy Cooper, Rachel Carson and the Japanese art of Kintsugi

The Audubon Naturalist Society Calls Out Racist Actions and Calls Forth Healing America’s Brokenness

Statement by ANS Executive Director Lisa Alexander

On the day that media and social media exposed a white woman’s racist actions, meant to threaten and potentially destroy a black man’s life, we at the Audubon Naturalist Society were in the throes of preparing for a first-time virtual celebration of the great Environmental Champion and former ANS Board Member Rachel Carson.

We conceived of a celebration that would bring together the voices of women in science and public affairs who are as diverse as we could manage in the time that we had for planning. What we have managed includes white women, a black woman, a Latina woman, and the works of children. It’s not a complete representation of the diversity in our region, certainly not the racial or ethnic diversity, but, for us, it’s progress. And this progress is part of our ongoing strategic and humanely-inspired effort to perform something of the Japanese art of kintsugi – the bonding of what is broken — with gold.

The brokenness of our nation is on display once again. And we at the Audubon Naturalist Society are here to say to our members, supporters, and the communities that make up this wonderful Washington, DC region, that we intend to pour gold into our brokenness, our flaws, our scars, our human fabric. Today we do that by lifting the voices of women in honor of a woman who lifted the voice of humanity. Amy Cooper’s reaction to being asked by Christian Cooper (no relation) to leash her dog, in accordance with the rules for dog walking in New York City’s Central Park, is shameful, heartbreaking, deeply disturbing, and outrageous. She wounded an innocent man, perhaps for life, and certainly wounded African Americans who have suffered for too long from irrational and deadly fears, based on the color of their skin. Our program today is one of many ways that we continue to act on the need for healing, understanding, and brotherhood. It’s just one of our many conscious attempts over the past several years to pour gold into the unmistakable brokenness that is a part of our world and a glaring part of the environmental movement. Our great hope is that all of our friends and supporters will look for ways today, and each day forward, to be that gold that bonds, that heals, and that beautifies our human fabric.

Read about “The Japanese art principle that teaches how to work with failure.”


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About ANS: Throughout its history, ANS has championed nature for all by playing a pivotal role in conserving our region’s iconic natural places from development including the C&O Canal, Dyke Marsh and, most recently, Ten Mile Creek. Past ANS member and board president, Rachel Carson, author of Silent Spring, is credited with launching the now global environmental movement. ANS‘s nature experts provide hundreds of opportunities each year for children and adults to enjoy, learn about, and protect the environment.