Over the last couple years, Washington Environmental Council staff and board members have been digging into concepts of diversity, equity, inclusion, and race and how these issues intersect with the environment. We understand that as a historically white-led organization, we have a responsibility to educate ourselves – and not rely on our community of color partners to educate us. We recognize that we are on a journey toward justice, that it is not a box to be checked, and that in these early stages we’ll be doing a lot of listening, learning, and leaning in to discomfort and new insights before writing a five year Racial Equity plan for our organization.
Incorporating environmental justice, racial justice, and equity into our organization and work is critical as we strengthen our relationships with partners who work on climate action, social justice, and equal access to voting in Washington state. We do this by:
- Approaching our work with a racial justice lens that prioritizes solutions from impacted communities and puts them at the center of decision-making
- Identifying and dismantling institutional racism within our organizational practices, policies, and procedures
- Engaging our members in conversation and reflection on racial and environmental justice to strengthen the broad, diverse movement for environmental justice
“If you believe that the power structures that are causing environmental degradation, racial oppression, and destabilizing the middle class, are the same folks, we really ought to make common cause and we have to combine our political power in order to make progress.” – Becky Kelley, President
Our newly adopted Strategic Plan calls out Racial Equity goals specifically, but also attempts to weave an equity lens throughout.
Statement from our Strategic Plan on Racial & Environmental Justice
We are a trusted ally for tribal nations and communities of color.
- Integrate a racial justice lens across our work with humility, and evolve our approach as we learn. Engage with impacted communities in creating and implementing solutions.
- Expand our reach to all Washingtonians who share environmental values, so our base becomes more reflective of the state’s shifting demographics and enables us to win at the ballot and in the legislature.
- Engage with our historically white membership in dialogue about systemic racism, and environmental and economic justice.
- Be clear and vocal about our organizational commitments on racial justice and equity, both to hold ourselves accountable and leverage our influence within the environmental movement.
- Ensure professional pathways for people of color and native people within our organization, and provide a work environment that supports and retains these staff.
- Grow our understanding of the role of tribal nations in the issues we work on. Devote time and resources to develop relationships and jointly identify areas for collaboration and connection.
We hope to forge a new path that challenges systemic racism while helping us meet our mission: to protect, restore, and sustain Washington’s environment for all.
To dive deeper into environmental justice, we’ve been reading books and listening to podcasts as a staff. Check out what books we’ve read recently, join us for an upcoming meeting, or suggest books of your own! Check out what we’re reading.
Historically White-Led Environmental Organizations
Historically White-Led Environmental Organizations is a learning community comprised of individuals who support diversity, equity, and inclusion in our historically white-led places of work. We acknowledge that our organizations have historically had primarily white leadership, and together we strive to do the internal and systemic work to create more opportunities and access to power for people of color.
We meet monthly to build community, exchange ideas, and learn together. People of color and white people working for historically white-led organizations attend. Most of us work for environmental organizations, but all who want to learn and contribute ideas are welcome. Learn more here!