+
upworthy
More

Think you can't be gay and Muslim? You should see this powerful photo series.

Lia Darjes, a Berlin-based photographer, admits she went into her latest photo project with one wrong impression.

Can you truly be at peace identifying as both Muslim and LGBTQ? She wasn't so sure.

"At the point when I started working on this project, I myself did not think that there are queer Muslims who manage to reconcile those two parts of their identities," she says.


Darjes learned, however, she was wrong.

Her series, "Being Queer. Feeling Muslim," which she shot between 2013 and 2015, captures faces and stories of LGBTQ Muslims living in Europe and North America.

As evidenced by the seven photos below, queer Muslims — an often underrepresented and misunderstood group — deserve for their diverse and eye-opening stories to be heard by a world that often fails to listen.

1. Ludovic, from Paris, said being gay and Muslim opened his eyes to the injustice faced by many oppressed groups.

All photos by Lia Darjes.

"In 2012, after I did not find one single imam in France who was willing to bury a transsexual Muslim, I founded a mosque that is inclusive and open to all in Paris. The reactions were quite vehement. Being Muslim, Arabic and gay and thus a member of several minority groups opened my eyes: Minorities are being discriminated against particularly in times of economic crisis. We have to know more about Islam, and we have to understand who we actually are in order to fight homophobia." — Ludovic

2. Samira, from Toronto, doesn't understand why others can't see that Muslims are just as diverse as Christians.

“I am from a country where it is punishable by death to be gay. 1979, when the Islamic Revolution began, my family immigrated to Canada, where I grew up pretty secular; maybe that was why I never had that moment of a coming out with my parents, I think they always knew that I am a lesbian. When 9/11 happened, all of a sudden I became Muslim — not because I was behaving differently but because people saw me differently. Just one look at my name and people act differently. Why don’t they understand that there are so many different ways of Islam in different countries, different traditions, different shapes? Why can they accept it for Christianity and Judaism but not for Islam?” — Samira

3. Joey, from Los Angeles, used to be an atheist, but one powerful novel opened his eyes to Islam.

“I was a pretty strong atheist and then I came across a copy of Michael Muhammad Knight’s novel, ‘The Taqwacores,’ about a fictional Muslim punk movement that kind of became true after being published. I purchased it, read it in just a couple of days and it opened my eyes a lot more to the religion. … In a way, I was very orthodox in my thoughts when putting the LGBT community and Islam together. Because on first sight, it looks dark when you look in the Quran and the Hadiths, it clearly can’t be OK. But then you can read other sources, other verses of the Quran, other Hadiths, and it gets clear that it is all a question of how you decide to interpret it.” — Joey

4. Amin, from Los Angeles, sometimes feels as though he's fighting two battles in the LGBTQ and Muslim communities.

“I find myself in the middle of two fronts – sometimes fighting within the Muslim community for more tolerance of LGBT people, and at other times fighting queer people and non-Muslims against the rampant Islamophobia in this country. I feel like I’m obligated to educate people on both sides. At the same time, I don’t feel the need to be validated by anyone. I don’t feel any great inner turmoil because of the various components of my identity. Like, I don’t necessarily feel excited by the prospect of a mosque for gay people. If there was a big mosque and people went and prayed together, I would still feel uncomfortable – gay or not. But I feel like people should have the right to do that. Is that weird? It sounds like I am in denial, doesn’t it?” — Amin

5. El-Farouk, and his husband, Troy, from Toronto, believe the Quran advocates for the acceptance of LGBTQ people.

"Where I am at today is not necessarily where I started. And I could tell you where I am now and it would sound rather a happy place. But the journey to that place has not been an easy one. I started with the notion that it was sinful [to be gay] and that those who practiced it were problematic at best. But that didn’t quite sort of seem right in the larger construct of the Quran and the Prophet that I believed to be true and actually had been taught. I don’t believe that homosexuality is a sin because sexuality in Islam is not a sin. Sexuality is something that God has given. And in verse 49.13. Allah says, ‘I created you to different nations and tribes and you may know and learn from each other.’ I just see queer folk as one of those nations or tribes." — El-Farouk

6. Sara, from New York, has always felt empowered by — not limited by — her Muslim faith.

“Islam has never been a part of my life that I felt limited by, it has always been a source of strength. I feel that I come out as Muslim rather than coming out as queer. Many people have a very strong preconception of what a Muslim woman looks like and how she behaves. And though, when I actually share this with people as something that is really important to me, they are often very confused.” — Sara

7. Jason, from Los Angeles, says converting to Islam was initially about connecting to God.

“When I converted to Islam a couple of years ago, [being gay] wasn’t an issue for me. I had just realized that I wanted to be a Muslim, and being a Muslim at that moment, as a very early young Muslim, it was all about my connection with God, and getting close to God. A month later, I realized that I needed to look to what the Quran and everybody says about being gay. … And everything was extremely negative, very, very negative. And it was very disturbing to me.” — Jason

Everywhere she went, Darjes found "people who wanted to be visible, who wanted to share their stories and ideas," she says.

Homophobia and transphobia are often used as tools to discriminate against queer Muslims. But by giving others a platform through her photo series, Darjes — who is straight, cisgender (non-transgender), and does not practice Islam — says she hopes her subjects help shift broader attitudes when it comes to accepting LGBTQ people of minority faiths.

"Breaking stereotypes," she notes, "has always been something that interests me."

To see more photos in "Being Queer. Feeling Muslim," visit Darjes' website.

Update: Some of the quotes in this article were updated on April14, 2017.

Sponsored

3 organic recipes that feed a family of 4 for under $7 a serving

O Organics is the rare brand that provides high-quality food at affordable prices.

A woman cooking up a nice pot of pasta.

Over the past few years, rising supermarket prices have forced many families to make compromises on ingredient quality when shopping for meals. A recent study published by Supermarket News found that 41% of families with children were more likely to switch to lower-quality groceries to deal with inflation.

By comparison, 29% of people without children have switched to lower-quality groceries to cope with rising prices.

Despite the current rising costs of groceries, O Organics has enabled families to consistently enjoy high-quality, organic meals at affordable prices for nearly two decades. With a focus on great taste and health, O Organics offers an extensive range of options for budget-conscious consumers.

O Organics launched in 2005 with 150 USDA Certified Organic products but now offers over 1,500 items, from organic fresh fruits and vegetables to organic dairy and meats, organic cage-free certified eggs, organic snacks, organic baby food and more. This gives families the ability to make a broader range of recipes featuring organic ingredients than ever before.


“We believe every customer should have access to affordable, organic options that support healthy lifestyles and diverse shopping preferences,” shared Jennifer Saenz, EVP and Chief Merchandising Officer at Albertsons, one of many stores where you can find O Organics products. “Over the years, we have made organic foods more accessible by expanding O Organics to every aisle across our stores, making it possible for health and budget-conscious families to incorporate organic food into every meal.”

With some help from our friends at O Organics, Upworthy looked at the vast array of products available at our local store and created some tasty, affordable and healthy meals.

Here are 3 meals for a family of 4 that cost $7 and under, per serving. (Note: prices may vary by location and are calculated before sales tax.)

O Organic’s Tacos and Refried Beans ($6.41 Per Serving)

Few dishes can make a family rush to the dinner table quite like tacos. Here’s a healthy and affordable way to spice up your family’s Taco Tuesdays.

Prep time: 2 minutes

Cook time: 20 minutes

Total time: 22 minutes

Ingredients:

1 lb of O Organics Grass Fed Ground Beef ($7.99)

1 packet O Organics Taco Seasoning ($2.29)

O Organics Mexican-Style Cheese Blend Cheese ($4.79)

O Organics Chunky Salsa ($3.99)

O Organics Taco Shells ($4.29)

1 can of O Organics Refried Beans ($2.29)

Instructions:

1. Cook the ground beef in a skillet over medium heat until thoroughly browned; remove any excess grease.

2. Add 1 packet of taco seasoning to beef along with water [and cook as directed].

3. Add taco meat to the shell, top with cheese and salsa as desired.

4. Heat refried beans in a saucepan until cooked through, serve alongside tacos, top with cheese.

tacos, o organics, family recipesO Organics Mexican-style blend cheese.via O Organics

O Organics Hamburger Stew ($4.53 Per Serving)

Busy parents will love this recipe that allows them to prep in the morning and then serve a delicious, slow-cooked stew after work.

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cook time: 7 hours

Total time: 7 hours 15 minutes

Servings: 4

Ingredients:

1 lb of O Organics Grass Fed Ground Beef ($7.99)

1 ½ lbs O Organics Gold Potatoes ($4.49)

3 O Organics Carrots ($2.89)

1 tsp onion powder

I can O Organics Tomato Paste ($1.25)

2 cups water

1 yellow onion diced ($1.00)

1 clove garlic ($.50)

1 tsp salt

1/4 tsp pepper

2 tsp Italian seasoning or oregano

Instructions:

1. Cook the ground beef in a skillet over medium heat until thoroughly browned; remove any excess grease.

2. Transfer the cooked beef to a slow cooker with the potatoes, onions, carrots and garlic.

3. Mix the tomato paste, water, salt, pepper, onion powder and Italian seasoning in a separate bowl.

4. Drizzle the mixed sauce over the ingredients in the slow cooker and mix thoroughly.

5. Cover the slow cooker with its lid and set it on low for 7 to 8 hours, or until the potatoes are soft. Dish out into bowls and enjoy!

potatoes, o organics, hamburger stewO Organics baby gold potatoes.via O Organics


O Organics Ground Beef and Pasta Skillet ($4.32 Per Serving)

This one-pan dish is for all Italian lovers who are looking for a saucy, cheesy, and full-flavored comfort dish that takes less than 30 minutes to prepare.

Prep time: 2 minutes

Cook time: 25 minutes

Total time: 27 minutes

Servings: 4

Ingredients:

1 lb of O Organics Grass Fed Ground Beef ($7.99)

1 tbsp. olive oil

2 tsp dried basil

1 tsp garlic powder

1 can O Organics Diced Tomatoes ($2.00)

1 can O Organics Tomato Sauce ($2.29)

1 tbsp O Organics Tomato Paste ($1.25)

2 1/4 cups water

2 cups O Organics Rotini Pasta ($3.29)

1 cup O Organics Mozzarella cheese ($4.79)

Instructions:

1. Brown ground beef in a skillet, breaking it up as it cooks.

2. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and garlic powder

3. Add tomato paste, sauce and diced tomatoes to the skillet. Stir in water and bring to a light boil.

4. Add pasta to the skillet, ensuring it is well coated. Cover and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

5. Remove the lid, sprinkle with cheese and allow it to cool.

o organics, tomato basil pasta sauce, olive oilO Organics tomato basil pasta sauce and extra virgin olive oil.via O Organics

Science

Americans see gardening changes as 'plant hardiness zones' shift across half the U.S.

Here's a quick tool to find out if your zone has changed due to warmer temperatures.

Photo by Jonathan Kemper on Unsplash, Map by USDA-ARS and Oregon State University (Public Domain)

The USDA has issued a new Plant Hardiness Zone Map

Millions of American households have a garden of some sort, whether they grow vegetables, fruits flowers or other plants. Gardening has always been a popular hobby, but more Americans turned to tending plants during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic for both stress relief and to grow their own food so they could make less trips to the store. For many people, it's a seasonal ritual that's therapeutic and rewarding.

But a shift is occurring in the gardening world. Now, due to rising temperature data, half the country find themselves in a different "plant hardiness zone"—the zones that indicate what plants work well in an area and when to plant them. Gardeners rely on knowing their hardiness zone to determine what to plant and when, but they haven't been updated since 2012.


The U.S. Department of Agriculture updated its Plant Hardiness Zone Map in late 2023, months before people in most of the country start planning their planting. We saw the 10 hottest summers ever recorded in 174 years of climate data between 2014 and 2023, but hardiness zones are actually determined by the coldest winter temperatures each year. Winters are warming at an even faster pace than summers, according to nonpartisan research and communications group Climate Central, but that may or may not be the entire reason behind the zone changes.

The USDA acknowledges that some of the zone shifts could be due to climate change but cautions against using them as hard evidence for it since factors such as improved data collection also contribute to changes in the map.

people planting flowers

Gardening can be a solo or community endeavor.

Photo by Kenny Eliason on Unsplash

"Temperature updates to plant hardiness zones are not necessarily reflective of global climate change because of the highly variable nature of the extreme minimum temperature of the year, as well as the use of increasingly sophisticated mapping methods and the inclusion of data from more weather stations," the USDA wrote in November 2023. "Consequently, map developers involved in the project cautioned against attributing temperature updates made to some zones as reliable and accurate indicators of global climate change (which is usually based on trends in overall average temperatures recorded over long time periods)."

At the same time, Chris Daly, director of the PRISM Climate Group at Oregon State University that developed the map with the USDA, told NPR, "Over the long run, we will expect to see a slow shifting northward of zones as climate change takes hold."

As an example of zone shifting, Dallas, Texas, was classified as Zone 8a in 2012, when data showed the coldest winter temperature in the city was between 10 and 15 degrees Fahrenheit on average. In 2023, with data showing the coldest winter temps falling between 15 and 20 degrees Fahrenheit, it's been shifted to Zone 8b.

Some zone shifts resulted in moving to an entirely new zone number, such as Seattle shifting from Zone 8b to Zone 9a. The overall trend was for zones to be pushed northward, but not all areas saw a shift. NPR has a helpful tool here in which you can enter your zip code, see what zone your city was previously in, what zone it's in now, and the temperature changes that caused the shift.

The bottom line is if you have a gardening book with a hardiness zones map printed before 2024, it's time for an updated map. Or check online to see what zone you fall in now to give your garden the best chance of thriving this year.

Images provided by P&G

Three winners will be selected to receive $1000 donated to the charity of their choice.

True

Doing good is its own reward, but sometimes recognizing these acts of kindness helps bring even more good into the world. That’s why we’re excited to partner with P&G again on the #ActsOfGood Awards.

The #ActsOfGood Awards recognize individuals who actively support their communities. It could be a rockstar volunteer, an amazing community leader, or someone who shows up for others in special ways.

Do you know someone in your community doing #ActsOfGood? Nominate them between April 24th-June 3rdhere.Three winners will receive $1,000 dedicated to the charity of their choice, plus their story will be highlighted on Upworthy’s social channels. And yes, it’s totally fine to nominate yourself!

We want to see the good work you’re doing and most of all, we want to help you make a difference.

While every good deed is meaningful, winners will be selected based on how well they reflect Upworthy and P&G’s commitment to do #ActsOfGood to help communities grow.

That means be on the lookout for individuals who:

Strengthen their community

Make a tangible and unique impact

Go above and beyond day-to-day work

The #ActsOfGood Awards are just one part of P&G’s larger mission to help communities around the world to grow. For generations, P&G has been a force for growth—making everyday products that people love and trust—while also being a force for good by giving back to the communities where we live, work, and serve consumers. This includes serving over 90,000 people affected by emergencies and disasters through the Tide Loads of Hope mobile laundry program and helping some of the millions of girls who miss school due to a lack of access to period products through the Always #EndPeriodPoverty initiative.

Visit upworthy.com/actsofgood and fill out the nomination form for a chance for you or someone you know to win. It takes less than ten minutes to help someone make an even bigger impact.

Community

Elderly man donates $500k to struggling Missouri fire department using gear from the 1980s

The 91-year-old wanted to make sure they had what was needed to save lives.

Elderly man donates $500k to tiny struggling fire department

Most people don't think much about fire departments until you need one. You know they exist and the purpose they serve but many people take their existence for granted. One fire department in Calhoun, Missouri was barely a department in 2021 when the new fire chief, Mark Hardin took over.

When you think of a department you think of multiple people, especially for something as important as a fire department. It takes a lot of training, muscle and skill to do the things firefighters do when they need to battle a blazing building, sometimes rescuing people inside. But the Calhoun fire department was a one man show.

It took Hardin and his passion for helping people to drum up more firefighters in the tiny town of 500. He took the town from just one firefighter to 28 and he trained them all. The biggest problem was that their equipment was from the 1980s and none of the firetrucks were in working order. Can't put out a fire if you can't get the trucks to run. That's where 91-year-old Sam Sloan comes in.


“I'm making a donation to the fire department. I've been planning to for several years," Sloan tells KMBC 9. “It's half a million dollars and a half a million dollars is a pretty good donation."

Hardin and the rest of the fire department think it's a fantastic donation for the rural department who are all volunteers struggling to keep the bank account above zero. The chief already has big plans for some of the money.

Watch the video:

"The first thing that we're going to replace is our tanker pumper. Our tanker pumper has been patched together about 17 times in the last year I think I welded on that thing. Every one of our firefighters, from head to toe, we're going to be fitted next Monday for new gear," Hardin says.

Sloan doesn't see the big deal in donating a half million dollars to the fire department because he knows "how to make a dollar," he doesn't know how to fix the equipment. Overall Sloan and Hardin think of the massive donation as simply helping their community and that's all they care about.

@tabathalynnk/TikTok, Photo credit: Canva

They've still got the moves

Ready to get transported back to the Decade of Decadence? Cause this wholesome new TikTok trend is gonna put you right back in the attitude-filled, neon colored post-disco era otherwise known as the 80s.

Specifically, it’s going to take you back to an 80s dance club.

In the trend, kids ask their parents to “dance like it’s the 80s,” as the 1984 track “Smalltown Boy” by the British pop band Bronski Beat plays in the background. The song's high energy tempo mixed with heartbreaking, anguish-ridden lyrics make it a fitting choice to bring us back to the time period.

As for the parents—let's just say that muscle memory kicks in the minute the tune begins to play, and it’s a whole vibe.


Check out Tabatha Lynn's video of her mom, Leanne Lynn, which currently has over 8 million views.

@tabathalynnk My moms 80s dance moves, I wanna be her when I grow up 😍 our kids better not ask us this in 30 years 😂 #80s #momsoftiktok #dancemoves ♬ original sound - Tiktok / IG strategy 🚀

Leanne and Tabatha told TODAY that since going viral, the dance is now a common “topic of conversation in the family text group.”

There are two factors here that folks really seem to connect with.

One: 80s dancing was simple. Just moving to the rhythm, maybe a head bob for some flair or a robot if you’re feeling adventurous. Of course, the 80s had ambitious moves like the worm and the moonwalk, but for the most part it was just about groovin’ to beat.

@marynepi One thing about Ms. Suzanne, shes gonna slay. #fypage #dance #slay #80s #yasqueen #trending #trend ♬ original sound - Tiktok / IG strategy 🚀

Then there’s seeing the parents light up at the chance to go back to the days of their youth.

“I can literally see the young women in these women spring out in fluidity. Love this trend,” one person commented.

@lavaleritaaa Love her 😭 “Se me espeluco el moño” 😂 #80s #momdancechallenge ♬ original sound - Tiktok / IG strategy 🚀

Another seconded, “I love seeing moms remember when they were just themselves.”

Of course, dads are totally rocking this trend too. Check it out:

@chrisbrown711 I dont normally do trends but i got in on this one. How did I do? #fyp #blessed #80sdancechallenge #80smusic #80s ♬ original sound - Tiktok / IG strategy 🚀

The 80s was a time of rapid expansion for music. Much of this we have the birth of MTV to thank for, which subsequently dropped music videos, CDs and a vast array of sub genres straight into the heart of pop culture.

Plus, the 80s brought us the synthesizer, which remains a strangely satisfying sound even in 2024. So while the era might have brought some things that most of us would prefer not to revisit—like acid washed denim and awful, awful hairstyles—some of its gems are truly timeless.

The trend also shows how, even though the weekly outing to a dance hall might be a thing of the past, people inherently want to bust a move. Luckily, there’s no shortage of clubs that cater to someone’s music tastes, no matter the era.

Speaking for 00s teens everywhere…just play the Cha Cha slide and we’ll come a-runnin.

Representative Image From Canva

Imagine if everyone adhered to these guidelines.


We know too much screen time is not good for us. We also know that younger folks are particularly susceptible to screen addiction. What we don’t fully know is how to effectively help teens and tweens manage the habit, especially when screens are such an everyday part of life.

However, psychiatrist, author and dad of seven Richard Wadsworth recently went viral after showing his own personal strategy for getting his kids to do something other than scrolling. It could be the perfect solution for parents to not only break screen addiction, but instill some other healthy ritual as well.

In the clip, we first see Wadsworth’s tween son doing deltoid exercises with dumbbells. Which he apparently got up at 6:30 am to do.

What could possibly incentivize practically anyone, let alone a preteen to wake up at the crack of dawn to lift weights? Read on.


Wadsworth then showed a typed out list of various tasks that must be performed before even setting eyes on a phone or tablet. The list included a short workout in the form of one mile on the treadmill or 20 minutes of another exercise.

Wadsworth explained that rather than enforcing strict rules, this method provides necessary structure without taking away choice.

“I’m not forcing my son to exercise every day, but I am setting rules and boundaries around his screen time,” he said. “He decided he wanted to have more time after school to play with his friend. And so in order to do that, he realized that he’d need to wake up a little bit earlier and exercise in the morning.”

In addition to exercise, the list included domestic chores like cleaning the bedroom and shared areas, finishing homework, doing laundry, preparing for the next day…and, perhaps most importantly…making sure the toilet is flushed.

“We have all of their screens locked away. And if they want access to any of them, they need to come ask us and we’ll go through the list together. And they’re not getting their screens until the list is done,” Wadsworth continued.

He also drew a comparison between screen time and sugary sweets, noting how most parents probably wouldn’t routinely allow kids to eat dessert before a nutritious meal, but instead allow it to be a treat.

“Just as you would hopefully have your kids eat dinner before they had their dessert, you should probably be having them do something positive…before they get on their screens." Hence why he tries to get his kids to complete their list before going to the phone.

And in case you’re wondering how Wadsworth’s son feels about all this, he reported having “so much energy for school” feeling “so much better” since his dad introduced the to-do list.

@doctorwadsworth #greenscreen #parenting #parentingtips ♬ original sound - Richard Wadsworth

Bottom line: kids need guidance from their parents. And Wadsworth recommends clear cut boundaries to help them develop good habits, “because if you don’t do it, nobody else is.”

Wadsworth’s parenting hack was well received, with quite a few grown adults saying they could benefit from this type of boundary-setting in their own life.

“Even I’m addicted to this screen. I have to tell myself to put it down all the time and I’m a grown adult. Kids definitely need this!” one user wrote.

Another added, “I need someone to do this for me (I’m 28).” To which Wadsworth replied, “we all need parents sometimes.”

Even with potential TikTok bans, social media isn’t going anywhere. The sooner parents can implement guidelines like these, the better equipped their kids will be at balancing tech savviness with tech dependence.


This article originally appeared on 3.19.24

Joy

Texas family takes a $40 million hit to turn their massive ranch into a public park

They chose conservation and the public good over a lucrative private development deal.

RGK Ranch will become a 1500-acre public park outside of Austin, Texas.

Most people will never see a million dollars in their lifetime, much less tens of millions of dollars. Even fewer would pass up an easy opportunity to become $40 million richer, regardless of how wealthy they already are.

That's what a family in Central Texas did when private real estate developers from around the world offered upwards of $130 for their sprawling 1507-acre ranch. Instead of taking one of those huge real estate deals, they chose to sell RGK Ranch to Travis County, Texas, for a reduced purchase price of $90 million—$30 million below its appraised value—so the land could be preserved as a public park.

Nadya Scott and her brother Gregory Kozmetsky inherited the ranch from their parents, George and Ronya Kozmetsky, who purchased the land in 1970. The elder Kozmetsky was a technology innovator and co-founder of Teledyne Inc. who passed away in 2003. He was also an educator and philanthropist who gave away millions of dollars through the RGK Foundation. Now his descendants are donating tens of millions of dollars worth of their family's land rights for the public good.


The ranch sits outside of Austin, which has seen record growth over the past decade as America's fastest-growing metro area. The family credits Nadya Scott, Kozmetsky's daughter, with the vision to make the ranch into a public park.

“I want to preserve the land for future generations because I have seen what happens when the land around a city becomes so valuable that it is sold, and little wild area is preserved,” said Nadya Scott in a press release. “I believe in protecting unique land for the future and I am glad that people before me also wanted to protect land so that I can explore beautiful areas in my travels. The RGK Ranch is a beautiful and unique part of Texas.”

Scott's son, Jordan, told Texas Monthly that she had been inspired by picnicking and hiking at Will Rogers State Historic Park in Los Angeles, on land that had once belonged to the film star’s ranch, when they lived in California. “Those experiences truly planted a seed for [my mother] to see she could create a similar experience for people in Austin,” he said.

Jordan Scott also said in a press release, “Austin and Central Texas are beloved by the Scott and Kozmetsky families. The cherished memories our family created on this land will now be shared with our community. I am honored by my mother’s decision to preserve and protect this land.”

In the U.S. around 40% of land is publicly owned, while 60% is private. But state by state, the percentages vary widely. In Alaska, for instance, nearly 90% of land is public and the rest privately owned. In Texas, less than 5% of land is public while over 95% is privately owned. Public land is a big part of conservation efforts as it can be protected by law. Natural areas that are preserved for the public, such as our National and State Parks, serve to absorb harmful carbon in our atmosphere as well as keep ecosystems healthy. In states like Texas where very little land is protected, public lands are even more important.

The park will play a vital role in protecting the environment, acting as a natural filter, absorbing rainwater to contribute to the aquifer, and contributing excess run-off water directly to Lake Travis—a huge benefit since Travis County faces water scarcity concerns. The park will also serve the wildlife of the area, creating corridors for animals to wander from habitat to habitat.

“Due to the families’ generosity and the foresight of Travis County, a large and very valuable property with significant conservation value will become parkland, benefiting wildlife, water quality, and future park goers in our community,” said Jeff Francell, associate director of land protection for The Nature Conservancy in Texas, an environmental nonprofit organization that helped facilitate the transaction.

County Judge Andy Brown, who helped lead the efforts to acquire the land for the county, added, “The Scott family's generosity also ensures that future generations will have the chance to experience the beauty and ecological value of this land. We look forward to collaborating with the community to develop a park that reflects the diverse needs and interests of our residents.”

The county will create a master plan for the land, but according to Texas Monthly, a home on the ranch is already slated to be turned an events center. The Scott family will retain ownership of 90 acres of land adjacent to what, but Travis County will have right of first refusal to buy that land if the family decides to sell in the future.

The park is expected to open to the public in late 2025.