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Annual nature walk invites Kansas City community members to reflect, honor the work of MLK Jr.

By Madeline Putman

Nature is a place of peacefulness, awe and inspiration. Heartland Conservation Alliance and our partners hope the walk can be restorative and provide a serene tradition for Kansas Citians. Photo by KC Parks and Recreation.

In his 1964 Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. stated, “We have learned to fly the air like birds and swim the sea like fish, but we have not learned the simple art of living together as brothers.”

Heartland Conservation Alliance invites you to honor the spirit, work and relevant words of Dr. King on Monday, January 17th. Reverend Antione Lee from Central Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) will lead a contemplative prayer to honor Dr. King's legacy and Nova Clarke from U.S. Fish and Wildlife will lead a restorative nature walk along Brush Creek. The walk starts at 9:30 a.m. at the 15 and the Mahomies Playground at MLK Jr. Square Park, and concludes at Bruce R. Watkins Cultural Heritage Center. The walk will be approximately 2.5 miles long. At Bruce R. Watkins there will be free refreshments, a reflection on Dr. King's quotes and a speech from Bill Coe, CEO and Director of Green Acres Urban Farm. The program concludes at 1:00 p.m. when shuttles will be provided to bring participants back to MLK Jr. Square Park. Following the conclusion of the program, KC Parks and Recreation is hosting a cleanup at both the MLK Jr. Square Park and around the Bruce R. Watkins building. Participants can register for the cleanup. About this year’s leaders

Reverend Antoine Lee is the Senior Pastor of Central Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) located in the metropolitan area of Kansas City, Missouri. Central Christian Church (DOC) has a ministry legacy that spans over one hundred and twenty five years. Pastor Lee will be sending participants off for this year’s walk in prayer.

Nova Clarke is the Visitor Services Manager for US Fish and Wildlife Service at Marais des Cygnes National Wildlife Refuge. She is a recent transplant to Kansas from Louisiana but has been a ranger for both the National Park Service and USFWS for almost 25 years. She has worked at 10 different National Parks Service sites and Refuges all over the country. Her job involves getting people out into nature and connecting them to where they are. Since moving to Kansas City she has been learning more about the area and looks forward to sharing it with everyone on the hike. Nova will be leading the environmental education walk along Brush Creek.

William (Bill) Coe is the CEO and Director of Green Acres Urban Farm and Research Project-KC, at the East High School campus. Bill has also been selected to be a part of the first African American Cohort of Silicon Valley Entrepreneurs and Leaders in 2021. Bill is an educator, entrepreneur, mentor, and lecturer, engaged in social and civic community activism. The programs championed by Bill reinforce biosecurity, sustainable agriculture and agribusiness systems. Bill will be giving a speech after the walk has concluded at the Bruce R. Watkins Cultural Center.

Details about the walk

Bring the whole family to this community event now in its eighth year. The peaceful nature of Dr. King's work will be reflected in this walk that encourages the community to come together, step away from the chaos of the concrete jungle, and find peace in the beauty of nature. The walk is partially paved and accessible for persons of all ages and abilities. Dress warmly and wear comfortable shoes.

HCA is still maintaining Covid precautions. Keep a safe distance from others, and please wear a mask that covers the mouth and nose when inside the Cultural Center and only remove it if eating or drinking.

“The 8th Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Nature Walk will commemorate Dr. King's peaceful nature through bringing the people of Kansas City together in an educational nature walk. Participants will be able to reflect on the connections between nature and social justice.” said Heartland Conservation Alliance’s Outdoor Education Coordinator, Madeline Putman “ It is an honor to work with several organizations and community members to be able to remember Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s essential work on this day of observance.”

Find more information and register for the walk on HCA's website.

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