Help MLTN Explore How to Support Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Last June, Maine Land Trust Network (MLTN) leadership issued a statement in response to the murders of George Floyd, Breanna Taylor, and other (at the time) recent violence perpetrated against Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) in our country. Many of your organizations signed on to that letter. Words like these need to be followed by actions. 

MLTN exists to support and strengthen Maine land trusts with resources, training, and opportunities for peer-to-peer exchange, so we embarked on an effort to do what we could to support those land trusts in addressing equity, diversity, and inclusion at their organizations. While justice is a key part of this work, we recognize we are not yet equipped to provide recommendations as to how to pursue it. Justice will remain a goal that we strive for, and out of respect for the communities it serves, we commit to furthering our own learning.

MLTN started with a group of people from within the land trust community and we began meeting. During this process, MLTN realized that to do something impactful more voices were needed with different viewpoints on conservation, including those who have a lived experience none of us have, and those with expertise in this complex work. The first step was to engage in a process to identify and reach out to some individuals with those voices and ask for their help. We came up with a list of individuals with a diversity of experience and skills, and from locations across Maine and asked them to join our effort; thankfully they agreed to join us.

This resulting group of eleven people represent a greater variety of races, ages, gender identities and professions than in a typical MLTN workgroup, and some of us had never met each other before. We are learning that groups of this sort don’t hit the ground running. We are learning to trust one another. We’re finding we need to grow together, and are steadily gaining new skills, new capacities, and even new language and new processes. We’re learning that we can’t fall back on the way that we’ve always done things, and we are examining old habits with the hope of transforming them into stronger, more adaptive ones. 

All this learning takes time and patience. Sometimes it feels like we should be progressing more quickly, but we’re also discovering that this process is part of the product. By that we mean, we need to acknowledge and learn from our discomforts going through an equitable process before we can hope to support others in theirs.

We share this with you today because we want you to know what’s happening. Transparency and access to information is a critical part of equity. We also wanted to give you some insight as to why MLTN hasn’t yet produced a toolkit for this work, as we have done in other cases. We are learning that this is not an issue that can be addressed with a toolkit and resource list. We don’t yet know what form this support will take. We’re just beginners ourselves and there is not a single model to do this work. 

We’ll be sharing our progress with you in the months to come, and we hope that if you’re working on equity in some form at your organization, you’ll do the same with us. To better inform our work, please complete this less than 10-minute survey, by Tuesday, March 2nd. 

 

Amy Titcomb – Three Rivers Land Trust

Ciona Ulbrich – Maine Coast Heritage Trust 

Donna Bissett – Maine Coast Heritage Trust 

Doreen MacGillis – York Land Trust 

Emily Greene – Saco Watershed Collaborative & Wells National Estuarine Research Reserve

Hadley Couraud – Loon Echo Land Trust, Western Foothills Land Trust, Sebago Clean Waters

Jess Burton – Southern Maine Conservation Collaborative

Nina Young – Maine Farmland Trust

Red Fong – Maine Environmental Education Association, Southern Maine Conservation Collaborative

Stefan J. Jackson – NATURAL DIFFERENCE, LLC

Warren Whitney – Maine Coast Heritage Trust