Cleveland Botanical Garden Welcomes Renowned Author Dr. Carolyn Finney for a Conversation on Equity and Inclusion

Tue., Jan. 31, 2023


Contact: Margaret Cook at or (216) 712-2929

Race & Place: A Conversation with Renowned Author Dr. Carolyn Finney at the Cleveland Botanical Garden

(CLEVELAND) January 31, 2023– The Cleveland Botanical Garden is pleased to welcome storyteller, author and cultural geographer Dr. Carolyn Finney for an important conversation about equity and inclusion in the great outdoors. This talk will take place on Saturday, February 25th from 1-3 p.m. in Woodland Hall at the Cleveland Botanical Garden. Tickets are $20 and can be purchased online in advance at A limited number of free tickets are available for our Access level members and through Museums for All. To inquire about free tickets, please send an email to

Using both academic and artistic ways of knowing, Finney’s work explores the important intersection of race and place, challenging us to question and expand the language of mainstream environmentalism to include a multitude of Black experiences on the land. Her powerful writing combines environmental history, arts and culture, and social justice to highlight the past, present and future of African Americans and the outdoors.

“Racial diversity in Greater Cleveland has been growing in the last decade,” said Joel Alpern, Co-Interim president and CEO of Holden Forests & Gardens. “At the same time, audiences for cultural attractions like public gardens and museums have historically lacked such diversity. We are honored to host and learn from Dr. Finney, as we work to expand our audience and foster a more vibrant, inclusive community.”

Finney is the author of Black Faces, White Spaces: Reimagining the Relationships of African Americans to the Great Outdoors. The aim of her work is to develop greater cultural competency within environmental organizations and institutions, challenge media outlets on their representation of difference, and increase awareness of how privilege shapes who gets to speak to environmental issues and determine policy and action.

About Black Faces, White Spaces: Reimagining the Relationships of African Americans to the Great Outdoors

Why are African Americans so underrepresented when it comes to interest in nature, outdoor recreation, and environmentalism? In this thought-provoking study, Carolyn Finney looks beyond the discourse of the environmental justice movement to examine how the natural environment has been understood, commodified, and represented by both white and black Americans. Bridging the fields of environmental history, cultural studies, critical race studies, and geography, Finney argues that the legacies of slavery, Jim Crow, and racial violence have shaped cultural understandings of the “great outdoors” and determined who should and can have access to natural spaces.

Drawing on a variety of sources from film, literature, and popular culture, and analyzing different historical moments, including the establishment of the Wilderness Act in 1964 and the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, Finney reveals the perceived and real ways in which nature and the environment are racialized in America. Looking toward the future, she also highlights the work of African Americans who are opening doors to greater participation in environmental and conservation concerns.

About Cleveland Botanical Garden and Holden Forests & Gardens 

Cleveland Botanical Garden, located in Cleveland’s University Circle cultural district, is an ever-changing 10-acre urban oasis where visitors find enrichment and inspiration through fabulous gardens, an exotic Glasshouse, and seasonal events. The Cleveland Botanical Garden is part of Holden Forests & Gardens along with the Holden Arboretum in Kirtland, Ohio.  Holden Forests & Gardens is making an impact in Northeast Ohio through urban greening and forestry initiatives, environmental research, educational programs, and world-class visitor experiences at its two campuses. For more information, visit 



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