At the East Multnomah Soil and Water Conservation District (EMSWCD), we understand that conservation and social justice are interconnected, and that more inclusive conservation efforts are necessary to ensure lasting and equitable outcomes. We cannot authentically and effectively advance our mission of helping people care for land and water without also caring for people. Everyone deserves a healthy environment and should have a voice in shaping what that means for their communities.
Throughout American history, Black, Indigenous, and other People of Color (BIPOC) have been forcibly removed from and denied access to land. Community members with these identities continue to experience significantly greater impacts from contaminated water and soils, polluted air, flooding, fire and the increasing effects of climate change. Until everyone has equitable access to a safe and healthy environment, dismantling racism must be central to our work.
At EMSWCD, we know it is our responsibility to make the organization and our work more equitable. In December 2020, the EMSWCD Board adopted an Equity Statement detailing 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?
Over the past several years, EMSWCD has begun to operationalize its equity commitment through individual and collective learning, program and policy changes. In the 2021-22 fiscal year EMSWCD developed a Five-Year Equity Action Plan and prioritized early actions.
Our Equity Action Plan Goals are:
- Goal 1: Meaningfully and authentically engage Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC), and other marginalized groups.
- Goal 2: Recruit, train, retain, and support a diverse staff and Board.
- Goal 3: Provide equitable programs and services.
- Goal 4: Allocate resources in a way that advances racial equity.
A Staff-led approach to operationalizing Equity
EMSWCD’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion efforts are led by an internal staff Equity Team that includes representatives from each program area.
The Equity Team is charged with helping to elevate EMSWCD’s awareness, understanding, sensitivity and response to the equity concerns of our constituents. The EMSWCD Equity Team advocates for and promotes access, inclusion and equity within the organization. We encourage staff’s equity literacy through educational programs and skill-building opportunities. We help identify key issues and suggest appropriate changes to EMSWCD’s operations and policies. We hold EMSWCD accountable to our equity commitments.
In 2022, an internal working group completed the district’s first Five-Year Equity Action Plan and prioritized actions for implementation through designated teams. The Equity Action Plan is led by an implementation team of staff and management committed to forward motion and organizational accountability. The Equity Team Coordinator serves as a liaison to the Equity Action Plan team.
The Equity Team’s key goals for the 2022-23 fiscal year include:
- Promote equity literacy and model best practices
- Support staff and board DEI activities
- Manage Equity Team budget; oversee contracts
- Support hiring committees (as needed)
- Participate in review of Equity Focused Strategic Opportunity Grant proposals
- Complete first annual Equity Audit
- On/off-board Equity Team members.
Questions or comments? We welcome your feedback, input and suggestions. Please reach out to a member of the Equity Team.