Bringing Environmental Awareness to the Community
Growing up, AmaRece Davis (pictured) didn’t have the most-positive outlook. In fact, it was the same outlook as most of the young men in Homewood, one of the most economically depressed, crime-ridden areas of Pittsburgh, Pa.
Drugs, gangs, poverty, lack of opportunities. The turf is as familiar as the routine. Two of his older brothers got caught up in that routine and are serving life sentences for murder.
“There were a lot of negative influences present,” Davis explained to me when I called him this week. “Every day when you wake up you hear about someone being shot.”
With AmaRece, though, the routine wasn’t the focus, it was the turf.
At 15, he became involved with an organization called the “Student Conservation Association” (SCA), an organization that places young people in activities that help preserve the environment, giving them internships in parts all over the nation.
It was his chance to express a desire to rebuild his dilapidated community literally from the ground up.
His work with the SCA, landscaping trails, clearing bush, digging, planting, building, and cultivating around Pittsburgh got him a shot working in Seqouia National Park in California. For a kid who never had any exposure to the outdoors other than a camping trip, AmaRece took to conservation like a fish to water.
“I just realized how free I was in that environment, and you don’t have to be trapped in that environment.”
In the park, he sat under trees that shot as far in to the sky as his dreams. And he began to see possibilities. Not just for himself, but for the place he came from that so many had given up on, even its residents.