The recent deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery have caused us to reflect deeply on our role in promoting equity and fighting racism. We join the community of conservation organizations to speak out in support of Black lives.
We recognize that conservation is an environmental issue that also has an integral social component. Staff members of the Sandy River Watershed Council have developed thoughtful opportunities to share the science and joy of watershed restoration. While we have made small steps to be more inclusive, we recognize that the Council has not successfully promoted the inclusion or addressed specific desires of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) communities in and around the Sandy River watershed. We recognize that we are past due to speak out against racism and injustices.
Our mission is based on values. The Sandy River Watershed Council must examine our attitudes, words, and actions so our values reflect the values of our neighbors, community members, and partners. We must examine how institutional racism and systematic oppression have created barriers for inclusive participation in conservation movements. We must do better to support the sense of belonging for Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) communities in the Sandy watershed.
Our intention is to expand our equity lens and practices, both as individual staff and board members as well as an organization. These actions include:
Saying explicitly that Black lives matter
Meeting our neighbors in the watershed to listen and share values
Engaging in a continuous process of educating ourselves about the BIPOC communities who live, work and play in the Sandy Watershed
Supporting monthly Equity Committee meetings to develop an organizational equity plan
Creating opportunities for the board and staff members to learn the tools, language, and skills for shifting organizational equity
Prioritizing representation of BIPOC cultures and communities in the watershed through partnerships & programming
Inviting and receiving criticism and feedback with grace and receptivity from those who may have been harmed and/or left out by our (in)actions
We recognize this work is ongoing. Our intention is to create a structure for transparency and accountability to our equity commitments moving forward. We strive for racial equity to be intrinsic to our mission and we will work to prioritize it. While we will make mistakes in this process, we are here in solidarity to listen, self-reflect and adapt. We are grateful for BIPOC leaders here and across the nation who have shared their perspectives on race and the outdoors. We are listening with full attention.
Sara Ennis, Interim Executive Director
Roy Iwai, Matt Stine, Luke Johnson, Katelyn Hale, Anna Stifter, Bill Weiler, Equity Committee & Staff