Silence is Not an Option

In these times of such great upheaval, I’ve been thinking deeply about responsibility. Not just personal responsibility—the role each of us individually must play in standing up for what is right and just—but also the responsibility of organizations and foundations to take action to make the world a better place.

As an environmental organization, Laguna Canyon Foundation is focused on our natural world and wild spaces. We ‘walk the talk’ of environmentalism in our operating practices (cutting down the use of single use plastics!) and in our programs. It’s easy to focus on the wilderness portion of our mission, and quite frankly, it would be easy and safe to say that social justice is not part of an environmental organization’s mission.

But that’s just not true.

Not a single person on our staff went into conservation, working for a small nonprofit, because it was the easy thing to do. We protect our planet, and our open space, every single day because it’s simply the right thing to do.

Our mission, to preserve and protect the South Coast Wilderness, is inextricably tied to the systemic racism across our country. The land needs a broad base of support, from people across all walks of life and all demographics, and it’s our responsibility to meet those communities where they stand.

It’s simple. People of color do not have equal access to our open spaces. And that’s simply not right.

Our South Coast Wilderness Education Program has focused on this inequality for years. By bringing Title I schools with racially diverse populations into the wilderness for free field trips, we’ve been walking the talk.

And now it’s time for us to do more.

It’s easy to support wonderful groups like #blackbirders. Mission-focused, diverse groups of people who care deeply about our open space.

We can do more.  We can take action.  That’s why, organizationally, we’re exploring these initiatives.

  1. Amplify black voices. Amplify melanated voices. It’s our responsibility to foster diversity in the conservation world, and we can do that by promoting a diverse pool of experts in our field.
  2. Commitment to staff and board diversity. Like many environmental nonprofits, our staff and board don’t fully represent the populations we serve. We’re bigger than Laguna Canyon, and our staff and board should reflect that.
  3. Give back. We’re exploring an internship program that will support people of color joining the conservation field, and other ways we can encourage diversity in our field. We’re also focusing on organizations doing important social justice work and encouraging our supporters to support those organizations as well.

I acknowledge that as a white woman of privilege, I cannot fully understand what it is like to walk in the shoes of a person of color. But I can do my part, and Laguna Canyon Foundation can do its part, to make sure that our world embraces diversity and stands up for what is right.

It’s our responsibility, and it’s our privilege.

We welcome your respectful and productive feedback.