What does it mean for the climate movement to welcome and include everyone? How would we have to act differently, to make this happen? Why is it important for 350PDX, and what does it mean for each of us, personally?
These kinds of necessary questions framed 350PDX’s weekend leadership retreat on the theme of Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (JEDI for short). JEDI values have always been present in our mission, but we haven’t always prioritized making sure they lived and breathed in all of our organizing, our internal spaces, or our relationships. With the guidance of Marcelo Bonta, who has been an advocate and trainer working on JEDI in the environmental/climate movement for over a decade, we took two days to dig deep into where we are now, and where we’d like to be.
Day 1 brought about 25 of 350PDX’s staff, Board and lead volunteers together to share diverse dimensions of our identities, discuss and define what JEDI would look like at 350PDX, and assess our organizational culture through a JEDI lens. We also discussed difficult terms that we needed to define, like power and privilege, which need to be recognized to be used in meaningful alliance with frontline communities. We talked about white supremacy culture and the way it has shaped the norms of the mainstream environmental and climate movement. We can go about working towards more inclusive norms that create a better environment for everyone. We ended the day with observations and recommendations for the organization as a whole.
- Supporting staff with adequate pay and benefits is an equity issue
- Reducing harm, being more intentionally welcoming, and providing more fun and time for relationship building in our climate organizing spaces
- Providing safety and support to those who bring up hard issues is an area where we need to improve
- An important aspect of being more equitable and inclusive is recognizing existing and historic social justice struggles and having them take precedence over the fast-paced demands of our climate activism
The group also posed some important questions:
- How will we get all of our volunteer teams to gain and incorporate JEDI skills in their work?
- How do we make 350PDX’s active work on diversity and inclusion more visible, so that people of different races, ages, abilities, and socio-economic backgrounds will feel welcomed into our work?
The JEDI Work Group, established in October 2018, has been charged with carrying this work forward into a comprehensive plan. On Day 2, the JEDI workgroup of 10 volunteers and 350PDX staff met to review and discuss these observations and questions. Over the next few months, this group will be refining our definitions of terms and developing a JEDI statement outlining 350PDX’s history, current actions and future goals in this critical area.
In coming months the workgroup will be reaching out across the organization to gather feedback for a vision statement, as well as working with staff to develop or find and promote the trainings our volunteers need to thrive in doing this JEDI work. Eventually we’d like every volunteer team to have a JEDI who takes on making sure this work in incorporated into every team’s actions.Think you might be your team’s JEDI? Let Anissa know you’re interested with an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Growth and change are rarely easy, and we have work to do that might sometimes be uncomfortable for those of who already feel welcome and at home at 350PDX. Our retreat made clear that we share a commitment to creating that feeling of community and solidarity for all, empowering and nurturing us all to act against climate chaos. As one retreat participant wrote, “We are strongest when everyone is included and working together. The movement needs all of us.”
(Written by Anais Tuepker, Lucy Kennedy-Wong, Anissa Pemberton, 4/5/2019)