SMCC’s EQUITY IN CONSERVATION COHORT
During this unprecedented time of COVID-19, more people than ever are using our trails and preserves in their need to be in nature – but not everyone finds those places safe or welcoming. Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) face many barriers that keep them from accessing and enjoying these spaces.
One of these barriers is that BIPOC are underrepresented in our organization’s volunteers, staff, and program participants. BIPOC have shared that this is one reason they may feel unwelcome and even scared to enter protected places, join events, and engage in outdoor activities in Maine.
Additionally, BIPOC know how the history of land protection and acquisition has gone hand-in-hand with oppression and violence. That history connects to their lives, and it continues with current events that are a direct continuation of these cultural and physical systems of inequality.
This moment in time gives us an opportunity. As conservationists and as part of the SMCC
community, we’re called to look more deeply at our role in creating and perpetuating these systems.
And most importantly, we have an opportunity to address and change those inequities.
For people and organizations, it can be hard to know where to start on this work. The issues and injustices of race, racism, and systemic oppression are so big, so unclear, and so overwhelming.
But the good news is, you don’t have to try to address these issues alone. If you’re looking for ways to transform your organization into one that’s more inclusive, equitable, diverse, and welcoming, SMCC is here to support you!
- Click here to learn more about how SMCC can help you and/or your organization.
- Click here to get in touch, if you are interested joining Equity in Conservation Cohort.
Learn about some of the past DEIJ work we have done alongside our member organizations.
“Participating in the Equity in Conservation Cohort hosted by the Southern Maine Conservation Collaborative started the path for my business to explore how to engage in our work while considering diversity, equity, and inclusion strategies. It prompted me to dig deep into the question we all ask ourselves, “why do I do what I do”, and how can I make it more accessible to underrepresented communities? It is the beginning of what I imagine will be a long journey. The Collaborative and members of the cohort are giving me the resources, ambition, and support to chart this course for my business and the fishing communities we serve. Most importantly, they pushed me to take the first step on this journey. “-– Jessica Gribbon Joyce, Principal, Tidal Bay Consulting
We are committed to the principles of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Justice and have worked hard with our full staff and board to develop a statement that shares our commitments and holds us accountable. This statement is a reflection of our learning and as such will be changed from time to time based on new perspectives, feedback, and growth.
Southern Maine Conservation Collaborative Statement of Equity, August 29, 2018
All people have the right to access nature in open and public spaces. To guarantee this right for all communities, it is imperative for the conservation community to build a more equitable, inclusive, and diverse movement. The Southern Maine Conservation Collaborative is committed to being a catalyst and partner in this transformation.
Just as biodiversity strengthens natural systems, conservation work is made stronger by the contributions, experiences, perspectives, and values of different people and communities. Biases and disparities disproportionately burden communities of color, indigenous communities, people with physical and mental disabilities, and low income communities with legacies of environmental damage and on-going harm.* It is our duty to ensure that our work is not repeating these practices but is addressing barriers and fixing inequitable systems.
We know that organizations embracing equity are more resilient, creative, and long lasting. Organizations outwardly committed to equity are more attractive to funders and to a diversity of people for volunteer or staff opportunities. Striving to become an organization that embraces equitable principles will make the Collaborative a stronger, more effective catalyst for environmental good.
The Collaborative is committed to building on its history of working in partnership with other organizations by embracing equity, inclusion, and diversity in all areas of our mission. We will continue to support, facilitate, and seek funding for ongoing learning opportunities for all member organizations to further their understanding of who is in their communities, what their barriers to engagement are, and how to listen for joint solutions.
SMCC will also seek educational resources to deepen our understanding of the true history of conservation and it’s ongoing perpetuation of colonization and exclusion. We will be intentional about our staffing and membership practices and strive to increase the diversity of our staff, vendors, board members, and supporters with strategic recruitment and partnerships, and an inclusive work place culture. We will review our policies and practices for communication and participation to ensure universal access for all.
Additionally, The Collaborative invites a dialogue with partners working on these issues to seek guidance and develop collaborations. By expanding our reach, SMCC intends to go beyond traditional cultural and social boundaries to become more effective in building an equitable and inclusive conservation movement in Maine. We invite all communities to join us in this journey of transformation.
Thank you to The River Network for providing an inspirational base and beautiful language to our statement. https://www.rivernetwork.org/about/mission-vision-values/
*The Rise of the American Conservation Movement: Power Privilege, and Environmental Protection