On this Juneteenth, 2020, it feels especially important to write on our support of Black Lives Matter and the worldwide protests for racial equity. We are proud of our organization’s commitment to equity, but we simultaneously admit that we can always learn more and do better.
Here’s a quick snapshot of some things we are proud of:
- One of our primary goals – Care of People. This means all people. Permaculture is most needed for the downtrodden. Our greatest impact will (hopefully) be on those who are most vulnerable.
- Diversity of those we serve (people of color are disproportionately affected by homelessness)
- Diversity of our leadership (including people of color, women, GLBTQ, and differently-abled)
- Anti-Discrimination Declaration – this was created with our initial policies in 2016. It is a living document/work in progress that can always be improved, but it is foundational in our processes. When our policies are approved by the Board they will be published on our site: if you would like to read the Declaration in the meantime please Contact Us to receive a copy.
- Indigenous leaders will be involved in our homestead development. Their history and representation will be woven into our design plans. We will pay “Real Rent” to the Duwamish people (assuming we are on Duwamish land) for the duration of our time on their land.
And here’s a snapshot of some ideas to help us better support our BIPOC community:
- While our leadership is diverse, we can still improve. Roughly 70% of our Board identify as white, which is reflective of the demographic in Washington state (80% white). That being said, we can always diversify to strengthen and provide more perspectives. Indigenous representation in particular would be ideal and we will seek to expand in this direction.
- The Board will discuss our support of Black Lives Matter at our Q2 meeting in July, with a focus on what more we can be doing. How can we further diversify? Should we create a committee to focus on this? Should we use consultants?
- I am committed to us finding a path for reparations within our policies. I do not know what this looks like yet, I just know that it is important and needed. The Board will weigh in on this and we will develop reparative justice policies as we continue to build our organizational framework. Reparations will be a part of our homestead from the start.
If you’re curious why (or concerned that) we haven’t spoken up specifically about Black Lives Matter before this moment, I will admit that I needed time – as a non-black person who is President of the Board – to find the right words. If you know me personally, you know I speak without abandon on my personal social media accounts, but speaking up on a business account is different. Yes, we stand in solidarity with Black Lives Matter, but what does that mean? What do we do that helps their cause? What do we have to learn? What do we need to do better? How do we speak up without our words being empty?
I must also acknowledge that as an aspiring 501(c)(3) we have to be careful about what we say: it is illegal for this kind of organization to speak out politically. We are not permitted to advocate for legislative measures or politicians that support Black Lives Matter’s agendas as that crosses into political territory. That being said, Black Lives Matter itself and the movement around it is not a political statement – it’s about people, equity, and justice.