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, which details our commitment to incorporating diversity, equity and inclusion into all aspects of our work. We invite you to read it here and encourage any and all feedback. To leave a comment or make suggestions, please contact a member of the Equity Team.
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. Development of the Equity Plan is still in progress, and we hope to share with our constituency soon.
- The Equity Team has created two sub-committees, a Planning Committee and an Internal Equity Committee.
- The Planning Committee members are Chelsea White-Brainard, Brandi Boersma and Monica McAllister. Together they are working on the development of the Equity Plan. This committee meets twice a month and provides updates and opportunity for input as needed to the staff and Board biweekly and monthly.
- The Internal Equity Committee members are Monica McAllister, Matt Shipkey and Lindsay Nelson. This committee is tasked with keeping the internal equity initiatives current and ongoing while the Equity Plan continues to be developed.
- Internal Discussion Groups: Small internal groups were formed to help provide a collective learning environment for EMSWCD staff. The discussion groups meet monthly to discuss a variety of topics. The goal is to bridge the gap between formal education and work experience and provide a platform for deliberate sharing and co-creating knowledge and ideas. This platform will also provide a safe space to communicate the intersection of our work with racial and other disparities. Both committees come together and meet monthly to discuss progress and any new equity work.
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.