We recognize that we have much to learn and do where diversity is concerned. For example, do other people of color, of lower economic status, of different abilities, or living at a physical distance from the bay, feel welcome here? How might their experiences with nature and the environment inform our practices? Without inquiry into these issues, we may be unintentionally limiting access to the bay and overlooking valuable perspectives on our mission.
Our projects in process so far include the following:
- assessing the current make-up of our organization to discover how well it represents the diversity of Orange County, California, and our country;
- collecting data about the demographics of people we serve through a voluntary survey;
- examining our policies, practices, resources, and educational efforts to discover how successfully (or not) they acknowledge diversity, address diverse participants, and draw on the resources of diverse perspectives in achieving our goals;
- educating ourselves about entrenched practices, cultural norms, and decision-making structures that perpetuate inequities, and about the ways diverse groups experience the natural world, engage in environmental efforts, or have been prevented from engaging in these activities through racism, cultural bias, and economic disadvantage, both historically and in the present moment. We are pursuing this goal through the institution of a committee on diversity, equity, and inclusion; a diversity speaker series; a monthly reading group on diversity, nature, and environmentalism; and the development of a set of allies—regional environmental groups with diverse leaders and constituents.
The future of NBC depends on our ability to incorporate historically marginalized people and perspectives into our work. We approach this new initiative on diversity, equity, and inclusion with enthusiasm, courage, and optimism, knowing it requires sustained commitment. When we make mistakes along the way, we will adapt and continue to learn.