June 10, 2020
Dear IslandWood Community,
Last week, we shared our reflections and solidarity with Black Lives Matter on our social media channels and website. Like many of you, our country’s history of racism and resulting violence against Black lives is something that’s been on my mind almost constantly the past few weeks. How do we do more? How do we do better? How do we once and for all dismantle the racism that pervades daily living for people of color, and very specifically, Black people? I’ve been grappling with these questions and wanted to follow up on our statement last week with how we are moving this work forward at IslandWood.
As a historically white-led environmental education organization, we recognize the legacy of racism, injustice, and anti-Blackness within our field, and understand that we have perpetuated and benefited from racism. It is our responsibility to use our unearned privileges to combat racism and stand with those fighting for justice. We understand there is an inextricable connection between educational justice, environmental justice, and racial equity. This work is not ancillary, or “outside” of IslandWood’s mission. It is central to our work in environmental education, and of inspiring healthy communities and a healthy planet.
Our Commitment To JEDI
Staff members have been prioritizing the advancement of justice, equity, diversity and inclusion (JEDI) within IslandWood’s work for some time. In 2019, as an organization, we formally made commitments to operationalize JEDI principles throughout the organization, in all aspects of our work, and laid out specific priorities to move this work forward. Key places of progress included our decision to focus our equity work on race equity in particular, equity trainings led by outside facilitation for our leadership team and all staff in managerial or supervisory roles, and the establishment of norms and significant changes in our hiring and onboarding processes. Our 2019 goals, along with our progress on those goals, are listed in full here on our website.
While we’ve moved some of our goals forward, there is still a lot more we need to do:
- Elevate our efforts to prioritize BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and people of color) candidates in our staff and board of directors’ recruitment efforts
- Set JEDI goals for each department that are relevant to our mission and all staff members need to have JEDI goals incorporated into their professional development plans
- Create meaningful assessments of our JEDI efforts and regularly assess the advancement of racial equity across all our work
- Amplify and listen to the BIPOC leaders and voices within our field
- Create a formal and regular process of gathering feedback from the various stakeholders and communities we serve to see how we are doing and how we could do better
- Provide JEDI training for all staff members and ensure staff have the opportunity to assess our progress against our JEDI goals through the annual staff survey
All of our 2020 goals, and the action steps we believe are required to make progress on each goal, are listed in full on our website here.
Holding Ourselves Accountable
We are committed to the work required to make continual progress on our goals and to being held accountable to these goals. We pledge to keep you updated on our progress through quarterly updates on our website, with the first update by September 15th. In the meantime, please don’t hesitate to contact me directly at [email protected] with feedback, questions, or thoughts. We need to continue to listen and learn, and we will.
I firmly believe we all have a role to play in uprooting racism. We can start by confronting the reality in front of us; by seeking out resources to educate ourselves; by having the necessary conversations with our families, colleagues and neighbors; by donating to organizations on the front lines of the fight for racial justice; and by actively listening and learning, specifically from Black voices and leaders.
Thank you for joining us in this effort,
P.S. As you may know, the Black Lives Matter Seattle-King County chapter is calling for a statewide general strike, silent march and a day of action on Friday, June 12th in support of Black lives. In solidarity, we are suspending all meetings and daily work at IslandWood, with the exception of celebrating our graduate program students at their virtual graduation. We are encouraging our staff to spend the day participating in the Seattle silent march (or a local march) or to spend time reflecting and learning about racism in ways that are meaningful to them. I encourage you to do the same!