Nature and Wildlife Help City of Tucson Connect One Year After Tragedy

The goal is to commemorate, celebrate and commit.

This weekend thousands of Tucsonans will gather to do just that while memorializing friends and family lost in the tragic violence on January 8, 2011.

JHadow\Flickr 2012.
Only one year ago, that horrific day took the lives of Christina Taylor Green, Judge John Roll, Gabriel ‘Gabe’ Zimmerman, Dorwan Stoddard, Dorothy Morris, Phyllis Schneck, and wounded many others including Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords (AZ-08).

Congresswoman Giffords enjoys the outdoors and one of her favorite activities is horseback riding. Photo by Melinda Koslow, 2008.
Beyond Tucson is a day-long event that includes live music, nature sits, hikes, outdoor “recess,geocaching, cave exploring, reptiles and other wildlife exhibits, trail runs/walks, yoga and health and wellness seminars. Community art projects are also underway. These events take place all around Tucson and surrounding communities, such as Sahuarita.


People can enjoy a new trail in Davidson Canyon, named the Gabe Zimmerman Memorial Trail in honor of the Giffords staffperson and avid hiker who lost his life on that day. What an incredible way to memorialize a wonderful person by giving others access to nature, memories, wildlife sightings, sounds and education of Tucson’s children and grandchildren.

Photo by Sandy Redding\Flickr 2012
Through connecting with nature Beyond Tucson hopes to

Celebrate the spirit of togetherness we felt in the days and months after, and re-commit ourselves to working together to build a stronger community every day.

How do you heal when tragedy occurs from such a senseless act of violence?

My nephew Michael leaving a turtle outside of the hospital with the caption, "Shells are for turtles, not guns." Photo by Melinda Koslow, 2011.
I struggle with this myself. I have the privilege to know Congresswoman Giffords and some of her staff so I feel this tragedy personally. I believe there is no simple answer as healing comes differently to each individual person. One thing I do hope is that we can begin by expressing ourselves actively, especially in a natural setting, as Beyond Tucson is doing.


Nature is what it is… unexpected, strong, beautiful, loud, soft, uncompromising, amusing, warm, cold, delicate, bold, challenging, whimsical, purposeful. Like our lives. I find peace in that. There are more reasons to connect us than divide us.

For more information about Beyond Tucson visit their website or “like” them on Facebook.

Congresswoman Giffords continues to heal “Beyond” expectations and will attend a vigil in Tucson on Sunday January 8.

Whether you are in the midst of a healing process or feeling a need to build community or wanting a good laugh, there is never a better reason to get outside. National Wildlife Federation encourages us to Be Out There.