Nature Retreat Centers Healing for BIPOC, Queer Communities


On a farm an hour away from the Twin Cities, a cooperative is creating a respite from tense police-community relations. “The Fields at Rootsprings” offers a connection to nature for communities of color who’ve historically had limited access. 

Feven Gerezgiher reports:
This Saturday, the City of Brooklyn Center passed a sweeping public safety resolution that would put policing under a new, public-health oriented department. The news was welcomed by the family of Daunte Wright, whose killing by Brooklyn Center police in April sparked protests and a militarized law enforcement response.

On a farm and retreat space an hour away from the Twin Cities, a cooperative is creating a respite from tense police-community relations. Rootsprings Cooperative member Erin Sharkey says black, brown, and queer people need a space for healing.

“The sort of ambient stress it has been to be in the Cities as a person of color over the last year has been really challenging,” said Sharkey. “It has felt like we are being surveilled where it just feels, we’re feeling it all the time, it’s all around us. And so to be able to get away from that, to hear the sounds of nature, to connect with a slowness, to unplug from our devices – it’s something we deserve.”

The retreat space, called the Fields at Rootsprings, has cabins, hiking trails, and a wellness center to facilitate rest.

The cooperative was given the opportunity to take over the long-established farm and retreat center after the uprising last summer. Sharkey says they center black and brown people reclaiming their relationship with land. 

“There are lots of folks in Minnesota who understand the power of nature, understand the power of retreat, and have had that because of privilege, because of their families’ generational wealth,” said Sharkey. “Folks maybe aren’t wealthy in other ways but it’s part of Minnesota culture that a lot of folks have been able to go out north to have respite and connection with lakes, and with rivers and streams and forests.”

The cooperative is still raising funds to complete the purchase of the retreat center which officially opens to the public on May 24.

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