Our Commitment to Justice, Equity, Diversity, Inclusion
Rock River Coalition has historically, for the most part, viewed our work on the Rock River Basin’s environmental, recreational, cultural, and economic resources as separate from issues of equity and social justice. Today, we recognize that these issues are inextricably linked. We acknowledge that we have been slow to elevate equity as a core organizational value. We can and should do better.
We recognize that exclusion and displacement are woven into the history of the American conservation movement.
Today, communities of color and other underrepresented communities are disproportionately burdened by the adverse impacts of land and water use and environmental policy decisions. By failing to acknowledge these past and present inequities, we play a role in perpetuating them.
We also recognize that our organization does not represent the current diversity of the Rock River Basin. We must become more socially and culturally responsive if we wish to remain relevant, grow more effective, and garner broader support for our environmental, recreational, cultural, and economic resources. Solving the daunting challenges facing our waters will require new ideas, collaboration, and unique perspectives. A more diverse, inclusive conservation movement is a stronger, more innovative movement.
Moving forward, Rock River Coalition is firmly committed to becoming a more socially and culturally responsive organization.
Specifically, Rock River Coalition is committed to:
- Fostering an inclusive environment: embracing differences and ensuring that any individual or group feels a sense of belonging, feels respected and valued, and feels a level of support and commitment from others so that they can do their best work.
- Learning and attuning ourselves to how past conservation efforts have played a role in creating barriers to equitable conservation. We commit to applying this foundational understanding and more broadly-informed perspective of inequality to critically evaluate our policies, practices, and procedures, and to removing barriers to access. (Please see our Equity Lens Framework.)
- Maintaining and dedicating resources and thought to achieve these commitments.
- Engaging local communities of color and other underrepresented populations in decision-making, and working on building deeper relationships. We will work together to identify barriers and organizational intersections.
- Training our staff and board on inclusive communication and interrupting oppression. We are also committed to providing education and awareness around institutional racism, as well as historical and persisting inequities pertaining to environmental, recreational, cultural, and economic resources within the Rock River Basin.
- Maintaining a Justice, Equity, Diversity & Inclusion (JEDI) Committee that is active and provides continuous learning opportunities, holds the organization accountable, and sets future JEDI goals and actions.
- Shifting our staff, board, and volunteers to be more representative of the growing diversity of people in the Rock River Basin.
- Serving as a resource for other conservation groups, knowing that we are imperfect and that we have a long journey ahead of us.
- Integrating concrete JEDI objectives in strategic plan.
- Modernizing internal operations (such as policies, procedures, hiring processes, etc.) to eliminate bias.
- We acknowledge that following through on these commitments will be difficult and sometimes uncomfortable. We pledge to take the necessary risks and to challenge ourselves.