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Our Equity Commitment

Aug 10, 2020 by Sarah Mowry
The Deschutes Land Trust is committed to building a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive organization. Our Equity Commitment is the commitment we make to our community to changing the way we work. Learn more...

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In 2018 the Land Trust began a concerted effort to understand how we can become a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive organization. Staff and Board have been learning about diversity, equity, and inclusion and exploring how our conservation efforts can truly engage everyone in caring for the natural world.

One of the first steps we took was to create an internal Equity Council in 2019 to help guide our efforts going forward. The Council has been helping provide learning opportunities for staff and Board and is beginning to integrate equity and inclusion into our internal plans, policies, and procedures. We know that we are early in our journey and we know that we have made mistakes, are currently making mistakes, and we will continue to make mistakes in the future. But we are committed to learning from these mistakes as we build a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive organization.

Towards that end, one of the first things the Equity Council did was define diversity, equity, and inclusion for the Land Trust and create our first Deschutes Land Trust Equity Commitment. We offer these definitions and our statement to our community as the commitment we make to our community to changing the way we work.

Deschutes Land Trust Definitions

What do we mean by diversity, equity, and inclusion? These concepts mean different things to different people. To the Land Trust:

  • DIVERSITY is a representation of the broad range of lived experiences that impact our community. This richness of differences extends beyond traditional considerations--such as those based on ability, culture, race, ethnicity, age, gender, sexual orientation, education level, class, beliefs, language, or political affiliations.
  • EQUITY is eliminating barriers that have traditionally prevented community members from fully participating in, accessing, engaging with, and benefiting meaningfully from our work. Different barriers exist and have existed for individuals of diverse lived experiences. Equity means offering to meet individuals where they are in order to provide opportunities to engage and benefit from our work.
  • INCLUSION is valuing and authentically welcoming individuals and groups that have traditionally been excluded from conservation. We strengthen our work by equitably welcoming, building authentic relationships, and leveraging diverse perspectives and experiences.


Deschutes Land Trust Equity Commitment

The Deschutes Land Trust believes in an inherent connection between all individuals and the natural world. Since our founding, we have prioritized the urgent need to protect natural areas for wildlife and other natural functions. Today, we are beginning to recognize and address the ways that conservation is necessarily linked to issues of social justice. By overlooking this connection until now, we understand that we have excluded the voices, participation, and values of marginalized and underserved community members at the expense of other worldviews, priorities, and forms of knowledge. This also means that we have not engaged with our broader community or realized our full potential to conserve land and resources for future generations.

We recognize that with the shortcomings of our past come opportunities for a better future. Committing ourselves to fostering a more culturally-responsive, inclusive, and equitable organization will require hard work and significant changes at the Land Trust, both at the individual level and in the way we work as a team of staff and board members.

Becoming a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive organization is an indefinite process that requires much more than words, which can feel hollow to the communities and individuals they purport to serve. This process will undoubtedly be imperfect, but within that imperfection, we can still make concrete commitments that demand accountability.

2020 Deschutes Land Trust Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Goals

While the following commitments only represent a starting point, we feel that we need to set realistic, quantifiable, and objective targets in order to hold ourselves accountable. We look forward to continuously expanding our commitments moving forward.

In 2020, the Deschutes Land Trust commits to the following:

  • Taking actions and making decisions that improve the diversity, equity, and inclusivity of the Land Trust. This includes within our organization and in programming and projects that impact the broader community.
  • Fostering a culture of learning around diversity, equity, and inclusivity at the Land Trust. This includes offering regular learning opportunities for staff and board members.
  • Building our understanding of how we can increase the resources we devote to serving underrepresented communities, representing marginalized voices, and hiring/retaining staff from underrepresented/minority/marginalized backgrounds. Equity is, at root, about resource allocation, and this commitment recognizes that underlying truth.

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