Ongoing violence against Black and Brown communities at systemic and individual levels of our society make it clear that there is more work to do for true liberation, equity, and safety for community members of color.
Thank you to those of you who have reached out and initiated conversations with us, reminding us that our work in conserving the places we all love is intrinsically linked to the well being of Black, Brown, and Indigenous communities. Thank you for holding us accountable, we are learning as individuals and as an organization. And thank you, again, for telling us how we can build your trust and for holding us accountable as we work to conserve the land that connects us.
We hear you.
The Land Trust’s work seeks to benefit present and future generations through conserving natural resources, agricultural land, and open spaces for people and wildlife. As important as what we do, is how and why we do it. Our strategic plan commits us to a set of core values that guide our conservation efforts and ensure integrity.
Over the past few weeks, we have revisited our five-year goals and rededicated ourselves to the role we play in ensuring healthy, livable communities for generations to come. We have searched for specific steps we might take in our work—to address inequities within our various communities.
- We are exploring options for increasing outdoor recreational opportunities for the people of the Santa Maria Valley, where the population is growing rapidly and places to connect with nature are limited. We will engage diverse community groups to understand their needs and how the Land Trust can collaborate to achieve them.
- The Land Trust is committed to expanding education and programming at our properties to serve more students and community members, nurturing the next generation of conservationists.
- Expanding the Arroyo Hondo Preserve Education Program, school bus transportation reimbursement, and working to represent and welcome historically marginalized groups to visit the preserve is a key priority in providing safe outdoor spaces for all to explore.
- We are taking steps to improve language and accessibility at our Arroyo Hondo Preserve. Spanish language signage and interpretation are in process, as are some website changes to foster more inclusive connection to the land and to our work.
- Improvements to the new Rincon Bluffs Preserve in Carpinteria are in the planning and permitting stage, offering the opportunity of a blank slate for creating a safe, welcoming space accessible by people of color, all ages, and all abilities.
There are many people we have yet to engage in our work and we must reexamine and overcome the cultural, geographic and economic barriers that hinder our progress in doing so. We accept the challenge to become more inclusive and to create opportunities for the people of color in our communities to recreate safely, feel valued, and be represented in conservation.
Your continued feedback is valuable as we assess the ways our organization can build trust with community stakeholders through our land conservation work. We are listening and we are learning.