In the aftermath of the horrific murder of George Floyd, my heart aches for his family, for the Black community that he represents, and for the systemic racism that persists in America that enable such tragedies to continue to happen – to include the senseless murders of Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery.
As individuals we can strive to make a difference by using our voices, our solidarity with peaceful protesters against police brutality, and our votes.
As an organization, we ask ourselves what the Willistown Conservation Trust can do to help heal the wounds of years of injustices and inequality that pervade our society. We recognize that we and the land trust community need to do better in taking up this challenge.
I believe that there is a lot more we can do to make a difference, and that with meaningful actions we will be not only helping the healing process but will be making our organization and the land trust movement stronger. Historically, the conservation of land and nature has been enjoyed primarily by the white segment of our society. We have had the privilege of feeling safe and free in nature while others feel threatened – as was evidenced by the experience of Christian Cooper, a Black birder who, on the same day as George Floyd’s murder, was falsely accused of violence while birding in Central Park.
We must strive to make our land, our natural resources and all of our programs, from Community Farm to Bird Conservation to Habitat and Watershed Protection, more widely accessible and welcoming to all. The opportunities for sharing and inclusion are many, and we pledge to renew our commitment to this goal, starting now.
As a first step toward developing a positive and intentional path forward we have begun to form a volunteer working group to address this complicated issue – starting with an introspective look at our own practices. The group will consist of staff, Trustees, and volunteers to include those who are passionate about the issues of Equity, Inclusion, Justice and Diversity in the conservation movement. We will share our progress with you in the next six months.
If you are interested in joining the conversation, please send me an email with your thoughts. All voices are welcome as we work together on this important topic.
With hope for a better future in these troubled times, I look forward to hearing from you.
Bonnie Van Alen
President and Executive Director