Lorie Shaull helps bring KAXE stories to life with colorful imagery
Shaull recently began taking photos for the station as part of our efforts to expand our digital presence and present local news in new ways. On a recent trip to Bemidji, Shaull was able to meet up with Crystal Gail Welcome to showcase Black Birdwatchers Day.
BEMIDJI — When Lorie Shaull discovered KAXE/KBXE, she became a fast fan and a dedicated member.
Shaull also recently began taking photos for the station as part of our efforts to expand our digital presence and present local news in new ways. On a recent trip to Bemidji, Shaull was able to meet up with Crystal Gail Welcome, the outreach coordinator for the Mississippi Headwaters Audubon Society. Welcome was a guest on the KAXE Morning Show earlier this month as she shared the organization's plans to host Black Birdwatchers Day.
Listen to our conversation with Shaull about her love of community events, her photographic efforts and her desire to straighten out the Sports Page contributors on their takes on women's sports. Then, relive the Morning Show conversation with Welcome on the Between You & Me podcast.
Black Birdwatchers Day
The natural world around us doesn’t discriminate, and neither should we.
That was the message of Black Birdwatchers Day earlier this month at the Neilson Spearhead Center south of Bemidji. Welcome said all were welcome for a day of learning about birds and birdwatching, nature hikes and other experiential learning.
“Nature doesn't care what we look like. Nature just exists,” Welcome said during the Thursday KAXE Morning Show. “So being outdoors, like, it removes that … layer that humans place on individuals.
“ … There's so much beauty and so much inner peace that comes from my time in nature, and so I would like to promote that to more folks — more folks in general, not just Black folks or people of color. All people deserve that peace that just comes from being without all the hangups that we have here.”
The local event capped off the nationally recognized Black Birders Week 2023, spurred in 2020 by a Central Park birding incident involving the accomplished science writer and birder Christian Cooper. Amy Cooper, a white dog owner, faced a charge of falsely reporting an incident to police after she told them Christian Cooper, who is not related to her, threatened her and her dog. He did not. The charge was ultimately dropped in 2021.
The event week was created by the BlackAFinSTEM Collective, a group seeking to normalize the historically overlooked presence of Black birders, scientists and nature enthusiasts in the field.
"All people deserve that peace that just comes from being without all the hangups that we have here."Crystal Gail Welcome
Welcome, who is Black, said it is a struggle sometimes to do things outdoors. She said the Central Park incident illustrated that people of color often don’t have visibility within these spaces.
“It’s almost like we aren’t meant to be out there,” Welcome said. “ … Having the cops called was something that was … sadly necessary in order for us to bring awareness, and that is unfortunate about us as humans in general, that we are so quick to just like, judge others and not see the beauty that is the outdoors.
“ … We’re so caught up in who belongs outdoors and who belongs in these spaces — who gets to watch the birds.”
The National Audubon Society stated it has a responsibility to address systemic racism within, including the racist history of its namesake and the broader environmental movement. The organization faced backlash earlier this year when its board rejected the idea of changing the name after a historical review of John James Audubon’s life and views showed he was an enslaver with deeply rooted racist views of Black and Indigenous peoples, according to NPR.
“Black individuals and the Black community must be respected, honored and valued within our own house and in the birding community,” the organization states on its Black Birders Week page. “This requires a culture shift within the Audubon community well beyond this week. We are committed to building a workplace environment that is respectful and kind and where Black, Indigenous, people of color, women and everyone across the gender spectrum are respected.”