Last month, you may have seen our president Walter Moore’s response to the nationwide protests over the unjust deaths of George Floyd and countless others. While it may not be obvious what a land trust has to do with all of this, land ownership and inequality have been inextricably linked in the history of this country. Among Walter’s reflections, he shared POST’s pledge to make our outdoor spaces equitable and welcoming to all.

POST timeline on work towards diversity, equity and inclusion
Click image above to expand.

At this time of heightened awareness, a statement of solidarity might seem like lip service without the context of what’s been happening in the background. Although our statement was published among a wave of other similar rejections of racism, this is not the first time POST has considered these issues in the context of our work. As an enthusiastic participant in POST’s work on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI), I want to share more about our progress to date:

POST’s Past DEI Work

Much of this was set in motion long before I got involved. It’s actually been in the works at POST for the last few years. In 2014, POST and partner organizations across California began putting together what became the Conservation Horizons Report in 2015. This report became a major wake-up call for POST to focus on how our work can better benefit everyone in our region.

This led to the creation of the California Council of Land Trusts Early Adopters Circle in 2016 – 2017, which was a group of conservation staff from different organizations, including POST, getting together to learn, engage and connect about the relationships between land, access, privilege and equity in our field.

Since then, POST has embarked on the path towards living the “for the benefit of all” part of our mission. This internal work on what DEI means at POST is ongoing with the help of outside experts who know much more about all of this than we do. Like anything involving humans, there have been stumbles, course-corrections and victories along the way.

Where Does This Put Us Today?

Right now, POST is in the middle of a multi-year planning process in collaboration with our DEI consultant, Promise 54. A core group of staff, as well as members of our Executive Team and Board of Directors, are driving the work, sharing findings with our whole staff and board, and working on putting our values into action.

Here are some examples of what we have been doing to advance DEI at POST:

  • Understanding staff’s experience of working at POST through surveys and focus groups and incorporating that feedback into our approaches.
  • Highlighting the importance of DEI through many hours of dedicated unconscious bias trainings for our staff, and sharing articles and resources with them and the board.
  • Finding ways to ensure our job openings are seen by a more diverse pool of potential candidates.
  • Articulating what diversity, equity and inclusion mean for our work and turning those definitions into actionable goals.
  • Moving beyond the “business case” for DEI by examining our culture and internal systems that may create exclusion.
  • With our partners, finding ways to engage a broader range of community voices when planning for public access to parks and preserves, and exploring how to remove barriers some people have accessing open space.
  • Evaluating our online content and events to better represent the diversity of people, topics and interests of the many communities we serve.

As a majority-white organization since our founding in 1977, POST’s staff and board have had much learning and reckoning to do, and we are continuing to discover our blind spots. I know that for me, engaging in this work has helped reveal my own privilege and assumptions in a deeper way. It can be uncomfortable and sometimes shame-inducing to recognize how we are failing certain communities in our region that have not been invited to the decision-making table for so long. At the same time, articulating our failures opens a path forward for a POST that embodies equity in every aspect our work, and that gives me hope.

This is where we are, and there is much more ahead of us.

About Post

Peninsula Open Space Trust (POST) protects open space on the Peninsula and in the South Bay for the benefit of all. Since its founding in 1977, POST has been responsible for saving more than 87,000 acres as permanently protected land in San Mateo, Santa Clara and Santa Cruz counties. Learn more

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