12 PM – 1 PM
Topic: Healing with Nature: A Social Justice Framework
Speaker: Starla Simmons
We depend on nature for our health, well-being, and survival. There is a growing body of research that proves the many benefits of spending time in nature from simply walking in the park to engaging in clinical ecotherapy interventions. Using a social justice lens, Starla will inspire critical thought about the historical traumas that have impacted the relationship between nature and marginalized communities. We will talk about the power of nature to heal individuals & communities, while honoring the ways people of color have always leaned on Mother Earth to thrive.
Starla Simmons, LCSW is a Clinical Assistant Professor and Field Liaison at the UT Steve Hicks School of Social Work. She is strongly rooted in social justice and racial equity, with a passion for supporting the vitality, resilience, and collectivism of BIPOC communities. She is experienced in holistic practices such as eco-therapy and mindfulness. Starla facilitates training in Austin around the topics of racial equity, social justice, mindfulness and eco-therapy. She is the faculty liaison for the Environmental Justice/ Ecotherapy student organization and Black Student Network at Steve Hicks School of Social Work.
Starla has over a decade of experience working as a school social worker, providing a range of direct care services to students, families, and staff. She worked as the liaison and coordinator for Austin ISD’s school mental health centers, providing consultation and operational support for school-based therapy services at 19 middle and high schools.
Currently, she serves as Interim Executive Director for Black Mamas ATX, a maternal health organization that provides full-spectrum birth support and advocacy for Black women. Previously, Starla has served as an Austin leader for the national non-profit Outdoor Afro, which celebrates and inspires Black leadership in nature and previously served as board chair for Mama Sana Vibrant Woman.
At home, Starla is Mama Bear to her two children Maya and Langston and spirited partner to her husband, Thomas. She loves exploring natural swimming holes, sitting under trees, camping and creative expression.
Throughout the summer, listen to speakers knowledgeable about birds and birding. We will have a different speaker most Thursdays at noon. All presentations will occur through Zoom Web Conferencing and registration is required for each meeting (and a suggested donation of $10 is encouraged).
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