East Multnomah Soil and Water Conservation District (EMSWCD) recognizes that communities and workplaces are strengthened by diversity and that more inclusive conservation efforts are necessary to ensure lasting and equitable outcomes. We acknowledge the historical and ongoing disparities in income, education and health in our communities. We also understand that these disparities can impact who has access to healthy land and water. For these reasons, our staff and board are committed to making meaningful changes in the work we do so that all communities can benefit from our programs.
In the summer of 2015 EMSWCD embarked on a journey of awareness building, training and program development around diversity, equity and inclusion. Since then we have become deeply aware of how much there is still to learn and realize the journey will continue throughout our lives and careers. We strive to approach this work with humility and accountability to the communities we serve. We know we can do better – as an organization and as individuals – and we intend to. We welcome feedback on our process and tools, and on any missteps as we move forward.
We have recently developed a draft Equity Statement and are seeking input (see comment box below)
Draft EMSWCD Equity Statement
The East Multnomah Soil and Water Conservation District (EMSWCD) appreciates that conservation and social justice are interconnected, yet we have much to learn about the history and implications of this relationship. Everyone deserves a healthy environment and should have a voice in shaping what that means for their community. However, historical exclusion and marginalization have meant that many communities have been denied the benefits of conservation, such as nearby parks and natural spaces. In addition, low income and communities of color have experienced significantly greater impacts from contaminated water and soils, polluted air, and natural disasters linked to climate change. As a public conservation organization, we have a responsibility to acknowledge and address these disparities.
EMSWCD is committed to making its organization and work more equitable. This is not only a moral imperative with regard to our local communities, but it will also result in healthier land and water. By investing in efforts that foster equity, diversity, and inclusion (DEI), we hope to create more effective and enduring conservation benefits for all.
In an effort to create more equitable outcomes within the organization and throughout the community, EMSWCD will:
- Incorporate diversity, equity, and inclusion into all aspects of our work.
- Develop and maintain an inclusive working environment where everyone feels welcome and respected, and where staff and Board better reflect the demographics of our service area.
- Consider the full range of impacts and benefits of our programs.
- Engage and build meaningful relationships with historically marginalized stakeholders and diverse local communities.
- Continue to learn and apply DEI tools, knowledge, and community feedback with intention and humility.
- Provide bold equity leadership within the local, regional, and state conservation community.
Comment on the Equity Statement
What have we done and what we are doing?
- EMSWCD’s Equity Team began meeting regularly in 2015. The Team consisted of representatives from each program area and one board member.
- The Equity Team completed a self-assessment in 2016, using a tool provided by the Coalition of Communities of Color (Organizational Self-Assessment Related to Racial Equity, 2014).
- In 2017, the entire EMSWCD staff participated in extensive multi-day racial equity training with the Center for Equity and Inclusion (CEI), while the board held a one-day training session with CEI.
- The EMSWCD Equity and Management Teams met monthly with CEI for a year, continuing to expand awareness and embark upon an organizational DEI planning process.
- EMSWCD is currently developing a DEI plan with the intention of identifying clear goals, objectives and action items to move the organization forward with its commitment. We hope to share with our constituency in spring of 2019.
Through our training, we have learned that developing plans and strategies without external community input can result in organizational efforts that are unresponsive and ineffective for many communities in the areas we serve. It is our intention to engage communities at important junctures in the process and we ask for your support and involvement. Please continue to monitor our progress and we will do our part in reaching out to our diverse communities to help make our programs more equitable and effective for all.
If you have any questions about our DEI efforts, please contact Chelsea White-Brainard, the chair of the EMSWCD Equity Team, at firstname.lastname@example.org or (503) 935-5376.