Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

The West Multnomah Soil & Water Conservation District believes all people deserve improved quality of life through clean water, healthy soil, and diverse habitats. We seek to welcome, engage, and better serve communities of color and other historically and presently marginalized groups in all facets of our organization, activities, and programs. By working proactively and deliberately to be equitable and inclusive, we will be more successful in our work. Our goal is to become fully equitable and inclusive by holding ourselves accountable, utilizing an equity lens, addressing disparities, and sharing our experiences in this pursuit.

Our racial equity statement

Vision – The West Multnomah Soil & Water Conservation District is a culturally inclusive organization that welcomes and engages people of color in all facets of our organization, activities and programs. The Board and staff of the District, the customers we serve, the contractors we hire and the people who benefit from our work resemble the racial diversity found within our service territory. The District reaches out to communities of color to determine their conservation priorities for the purpose of enhancing livability through healthy soil, clean water and diverse habitats. We willingly share with others our experiences in pursuing racial equity.

Need – Our District has taken the initiative to review the history of racial disparity in Oregon, and how this history persists in the form of unconscious biases and cultural barriers that contribute to disparities in how we work, whom we work with and whom we serve. We recognize that gaining the perspectives of, and working with, communities of color will increase our organization’s overall strength. By working proactively and deliberately to be equitable and inclusive, we will be more successful in our work.

Accountability – We will hold ourselves accountable to racial equity by addressing disparities when found, and by developing, implementing, tracking and reporting on Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-Bound racial equity goals. Priorities include fully understanding the demographics of the communities we serve, developing new and lasting partnerships with communities of color and organizations that represent them, and recruitment and retention of persons of color on our Board, staff and supporting committees.

Our non-discrimination statement

West Multnomah Soil & Water Conservation District does not discriminate based on any class or identity including age, color, disability, gender identity or expression, genetic information, marital status, national origin, race, religion, sex, sexual orientation, and veteran status. The District is an equal opportunity employer and service provider. The District makes reasonable accommodations for persons with disabilities and special needs to provide access to District events, materials, and services. If you have requests for accommodations or complaints about discrimination, harassment, inequitable treatment, lack of access to District events, materials or services, or for any questions at all, please contact us at info@wmswcd.org or (503) 238-4775.

Why we pursue diversity, equity, and inclusion

1. Environmental health impacts all, and engaging and welcoming all stakeholders is crucial to ensuring success in the District’s mission.
2. District programs may not engage many racially diverse audiences and we lack the demographic information to track whether we are reaching all constituents.
3. The current make-up of our board and staff is not as diverse as it could be.
4. Having diverse perspectives in organizational decision-making would increase our District’s overall strength and relevance.
5. The District will be better able to identify and address the priorities of underserved communities of color if it works directly with them to ensure messages and programs are meaningful and accessible.


Publications

Whose Land is Our Land?
Spatial exclusion, racial segregation, and the history of the lands of western Multnomah County

West Multnomah Soil & Water Conservation District has resolved to pursue diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) as integral parts of our conservation mission. We face the challenge of doing so in a territory that has inherited roughly two centuries of legal, institutional, and economic factors that have inequitably distributed land and natural resources. By synthesizing existing historical scholarship in a literature review focused on western Multnomah County, we identified how barriers to property ownership for Native Americans, Asian Americans, Black Oregonians and other people of color were created and reinforced through the 19th and 20th centuries. These systemic barriers have consistently made this region’s land and natural resources available to white communities while withholding them from communities of color, a pattern of inequity which persists today; the color of one’s skin remains a strong predictor of whether one owns land in our district and of the environmental resources and hazards one shares a neighborhood with. In examining our own policies and activities, we found that the District’s work has reflected and reproduced these patterns of racial segregation. By focusing our efforts on privately owned larger properties and the people who own them, we have been investing in and led by predominantly white communities while missing opportunities, needs, and voices present in historically diverse neighborhoods. These findings will inform the District’s strategy as we build DEI into our next long-range business plan, and we hope that they may foster critical inquiries around race, land, and equity in our broader professional community.

Please note, this publication has been submitted for peer review and is currently in draft form.

Read the Review Draft Executive Summary. Read the full Review Draft Literature Review Report.


Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Committee

The Committee typically meets bi-monthly from 12:00 pm to 2:00 pm in the District conference room at 2701 NW Vaughn Street, Suite 450, Portland.  A special series of additional bi-monthly meetings related to the Long Range Business Plan have been added to the meeting schedule. Members of the public are invited to attend. Meeting agendas are posted below.

Meetings

9/23/20: Agenda & Attchments (This meeting will take place by conference call. See agenda for details.)

8/12/20: Agenda & Attachments (This meeting will take place by conference call. See agenda for details.)

7/22/20: Agenda & Attachments (This meeting will take place by conference call. See agenda for details.)

5/27/20: Agenda & Attachments (This meeting will take place by conference call. See agenda for details.)

3/25/20: Agenda & Attachments (This meeting will take place by conference call. See agenda for details.)

1/22/20: Agenda & Attachments

11/27/19: Agenda & Attachments

10/23/19: Agenda & Attachments

9/25/19: Agenda & Attachments

8/14/19: Agenda & Attachments

7/17/19: Agenda & Attachments

5/14/19: Agenda & Attachments

3/22/19: Agenda, Attachments

1/25/19: Agenda

11/30/18: Agenda, Attachments