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As the chilly embrace of November beckons, bringing with it thoughts of Thanksgiving and reflections on our society's relationship with its Indigenous peoples, we at the G5 Trail Collective are filled with reflections and gratitude. Our trails are not just pathways through nature; they are vessels of shared memories, connecting us to the earth and to each other. In celebrating our recent state funding and planning for the future, it's paramount we first honor our past. The land that cradles the G5 Trail Collective is sacred ground, originally inhabited by the Eastern Band of Cherokee People and the Catawba Nation. As we forge ahead with our mission, this knowledge anchors every step we take. Central to our endeavors is a vision where the trails remain accessible to all for generations to come. As Old Fort witnesses rapid development because of its natural beauty, we're working tirelessly to ensure that every community member, regardless of their background, has unhindered access to these trails. For the earth beneath our feet is not just land—it's a legacy deserving of reverence and protection.
Historically, urban growth has often sidelined the preservation of outdoor spaces. The G5 Collective aims to change that narrative. Our focus is to ensure every individual—especially those from underrepresented communities—feels at home in these outdoor sanctuaries. Systemic barriers have long deterred people of color, women, people with disabilities, and the LGBTQ+ community, from embracing the outdoors to their fullest extent. This exclusion is further exacerbated by educational institutions not prioritizing outdoor experiences for students. By addressing these issues, and collaborating with other partners within the community, we are championing diversity and inclusivity in nature for ALL. But why is this bond with nature so indispensable? For Indigenous communities, the land is more than just terra firma; it is a wellspring of spiritual, emotional, and physical rejuvenation. Their traditions, enriched by the land's ancient wisdom, offer invaluable lessons in healing, grounding, and belonging. The Grandfather District, a region imbued with rich history and unparalleled natural beauty, is a testament to this symbiotic relationship between humans and nature. We urge each of our supporters to introspect, to genuinely ponder the bond they share with the environment. Let us appreciate the ancestors who tread these paths before us and assume the role of guardians for the trails that will host future generations. Together, let's champion equal access to nature's bounties and embrace its role in our collective health and wellness, now and for generations to come.