This story is part of Fix’s Outdoors Issue, which explores how we build connections to nature, why those connections matter, and how equitable access to outside spaces is a vital climate solution.

Many climate advocates and conservationists trace their passion for the work back to formative experiences they’ve had outside, as children or adults. Some are positive — the sense of wonder that came with tasting a homegrown vegetable for the first time, or looking down on their town from the summit of a mountain. But the outdoors can also be a challenging, or even dangerous place, whether due to conflicts with other people or the ravages of climate impacts. Those experiences, too, show us what we have to lose and what we stand to gain from building a more just and sustainable future.

This project showcases those stories. We invited more than two dozen people from across the climate and justice movements — activists, farmers, scientists, and artists — to share some of their outdoor memories, and how those moments shaped their trajectories. Their photographs and words provide a glimpse into 26 journeys and relationships with nature. All comments have been edited for length and clarity.

Send us a postcard of your own — a brief recollection, and a photo if you have one — of an outdoor experience that shaped your path. We’ll be sharing more postcards on Instagram throughout this spring.

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Reporting by Britny Cordera, Marigo Farr, Izania Gonzalez, and Maryam Noor
Additional reporting and lead editing by Claire Elise Thompson
Additional editing by Jaime Buerger and Chuck Squatriglia
Audio editing by Jess Stahl
Art direction by Mia Torres
Design and development by CMYK
Image assets from Getty Images; Unsplash