Developing Equity Protocols for CalWild’s Programs
For years, CalWild’s Board of Directors and Staff have been working to understand the legacies of racism, sexism, elitism, and other problems that have plagued the conservation movement. Grappling with this exclusionary and prejudice past can only be overcome through consistent dedication, self-reflection, and a persistent, long-term effort.
At the end of 2019, CalWild adopted its first equity and inclusion statement. The statement was adopted after a long process with the Board and Staff to understand the conservation movement’s sometimes sordid history. By adopting the statement, the Board hoped to ingrain the stated values into all of our work.
To both deepen and further CalWild’s commitment to equitable access and use of public lands, we also had an opportunity, provided by a generous major donor, to hire our first San Joaquin Valley Organizer to engage the communities in the Valley on the public lands around them.
That hire was part of an organizational transition to integrate equity and inclusion into all of our work. To that end, we launched the Public Lands Equity and Resilience Program to publicly elevate these statements and hold ourselves accountable in living up to our professed values.
Adopting the equity protocols below for all of our programs and campaigns is the next step in this process.
The adoption of specific equity protocols is designed to emphasize measures that our campaigns should take to ensure that voices historically left out of conservation efforts are now included. CalWild prides itself on including groups rarely engaged by other conservation organizations. However, by codifying these protocols, we are making it both official organization policy and practice. Listed below are the values we hold that drive our work and the specific protocols and actions necessary to embody those values. Please let us know if you have any feedback.
CalWild’s Official Equity Protocols
Value #1: We love and respect the land and waterways we work to protect. Many others feel the same both today and throughout history. It is our job to understand that background and connect to those who want to protect it as well.
- Do your homework early
- Research and learn about the history of the region. Who has cultural or historic ties to the area? Is it of importance to any groups outside of the conservation community?
- Prioritize outreach to people and groups who have not been historically engaged by the conservation movement including Tribes, Black and Latinx communities, low-income/working class communities, youth, people with disabilities, and other minority groups.
Value #2: The importance of protecting the values encompassed by public lands are not uniformly held or understood in exactly the same way. Therefore, we must approach those who value these wild places in their own way with an open-mind and without narrow preconceived notions about the process or the precise outcomes of public lands conservation campaigns. Such input is invaluable in helping to shape a successful, modern conservation proposal.
- Make initial outreach without conditions or “pre-baked” ideas
- As we engage in these efforts, CalWild staff should make initial outreach with the intention of understanding a potential partner or interested party’s vision for an area and without an expectation of future support. This is simply about listening to their perspective. It is our job to integrate that perspective, if applicable, to our work in an area.
Value #3: CalWild is fully aware of the mixed history of the environmental movement. With that understanding, we believe it is incumbent upon us to elevate voices of groups historically marginalized in these conversations and ensure a meaningful role in the decision-making process.
- Develop projects or campaigns in a collaborative manner. Incorporate the feedback you get in a listening tour and be open to changing it as you seek specific feedback on a proposal.
- While the front-end engagement is most important and the most often neglected, historically marginalized groups should be empowered with meaningful leadership roles. In an ideal world, we would be empowering them to do much of the direct engagement with lawmakers and other significant stakeholders.