Join CLC on a journey toward greater diversity, equity, and inclusion.
The Columbia Land Conservancy works with our community to conserve the farmland, forests, wildlife habitat, and rural character of Columbia County, strengthening connections between people and the land.
Achieving this mission calls for all of us to work together under a shared purpose. It calls for seeking out the voices of those who have been excluded from stewarding this land we love. It calls for trying new and innovative approaches. This plan is grounded in the notion of commitment to perpetuity. Just as CLC commits to caring for land and conservation easements in the long term and modifying our approach as we learn more, we also commit to adapting to the needs of our community. This journey is an ongoing, collaborative process that will evolve over time.
What do diversity, equity, and inclusion have to do with conservation?
CLC is proud of what our community of volunteers, donors, and supporters has achieved in nearly forty years. Together, we will continue to spark the interest of people in the environment. Keep family farmers on their land. Ensure that iconic landscapes and special places are available for future generations to enjoy. Protect the health and function of important ecosystems for wildlife habitat, climate change mitigation, and healthy drinking water.
Caring for people and the land requires an approach grounded in diversity, equity, and inclusion.
It means asking questions like:
“If we build this trail, who will use it? Who might not use it?”
“How do we balance different land-use needs?”
“Would preserving this property impact the availability of affordable housing?”
It means reckoning with the history of conservation, and recognizing that Indigenous communities, People of Color, disabled people, and low-income communities have not had a strong voice in shaping what it means to care about the land we love.
It means moving forward with values-driven intention and a commitment to transparency and accountability.
What goals is CLC working toward?
CLC is excited to envision what can be possible when more voices are included in the conservation conversation.
- Strengthening our community. Like a thriving ecosystem, conservation efforts are stronger when they are connected. CLC commits to building trust-based relationships grounded in multiple perspectives to collaboratively address issues that impact the lives and dignity of our community, including safe drinking water and local food, lack of affordable housing, and climate change.
- Providing equitable access to and meaningful connection with the land. There is no “right” way to connect with the land. CLC commits to providing broad and meaningful access to land – including Public Conservation Areas and conserved properties – for connection, recreation, cultural practices and ceremony, and income generation through farming and forestry.
- Building a healthy workplace. Change begins at home. CLC commits to building a culture where staff and board thrive, diversity is celebrated, and challenging conversations are embraced.
What values guide decision-making?
- Including many voices and perspectives. CLC wants to hear your voice and your perspective, acknowledging that you may not have always felt welcome or included. CLC takes our role as a facilitator seriously and convenes conversations about land conservation and community needs, acknowledging the importance of challenging long-held assumptions and incorporating new perspectives.
- Learning from the past and preparing for the future. Land trusts have a responsibility to protect land forever. Part of that responsibility is considering the impact yesterday’s actions have today and today’s actions will have tomorrow. Black, Indigenous, and other Communities of Color remind us that land conservation historically involved oppression and violence. That history impacts their lives today. As a steward of the land, we commit to using conservation tools to equitably serve our community.
- Accessing land is a right everyone deserves. CLC believes you deserve the opportunity to access land in ways that are safe, welcoming, and meaningful. We commit to working together to solve problems innovatively, providing expertise and resources, and learning from others.
What will this look like?
Part of the work is creating a comprehensive plan of action to integrate diversity, equity, and inclusion in everything CLC does, but a few projects have already begun.
- Reviewing existing research about community needs. This aligns CLC’s resources with organizations already reaching underserved communities within Columbia County. We have been authentically growing relationships and supporting leaders serving local Communities of Color, the LGBTQIA+ community, and others.
- Creating more welcoming site features at CLC’s Public Conservation Areas. This helps all visitors access and enjoy our beloved public sites. This work has included updated trail naming systems to accommodate visitors with color blindness, published trail grade and terrain to accommodate visitors with mobility aids, and projects to improve site accessibility.
- Improving recruitment, hiring, and onboarding processes. This helps CLC hire more fairly and retain staff. This work has included exploring new ways to widely share job openings, emphasizing that education and experience can be gained from a variety of sources, and questioning whether each criterion we post is “nice to have” or a “need to have.”
This vision is just the beginning. Right now, we are standing at a trailhead ready to embark on our next hike. We have examined the map of where we have been. Let’s pack snacks, tighten our laces, and take our next adventure together.