Equity and Inclusion Updates
The Johnson Creek Watershed Council’s (JCWC) mission is to promote restoration and stewardship of a healthy Johnson Creek watershed through sound science and community engagement. JCWC aims to make our programs and community engagement efforts serve all residents of the watershed.
Johnson Creek Watershed Council welcomes ALL people who live, work, and play around Johnson Creek. We acknowledge there is a legacy of systemic inequalities within our watershed. The Council is devoted to doing our part to heal the legacy of systemic racism and inequality by enriching the lives of all people who touch Johnson Creek Watershed.
Community Engagement and Inclusion Committee
The Community Inclusion Committee (CI Committee) is a Board committee composed of JCWC staff, Board members, and community partners . The committee has organized to address equity, diversity, and inclusion in our work. This CI Committee meets monthly to discuss how JCWC can better represent our diverse watershed.
From September 2016 to January 2017 The Community Inclusion Committee completed the Coalition of Communities of Color Tool for Organizational Self-Assessment Regarding Racial Equity. At this point, the committee was composed of 3 board members and 4 staff members. Throughout this process, committee members identified goals and objectives for an Equity and Inclusion Plan. The Equity and Inclusion Plan is designed to guide the Council’s movement toward becoming a more equitable, inclusive, diverse, and anti-racist environmental organization.
Equity and Inclusion Plan
The Equity and Inclusion Plan is organized around three main categories: governance, facilities, and building community. These categories reflect the structure of the 2017-2022 JCWC Strategic Plan. These two guiding documents were created with the same structure at the same time to allow for the two to work together. The Equity and Inclusion Plan is active for 5 years, from 2017-2022.
Read Johnson Creek Watershed Council’s Equity and Inclusion Plan.
Equity and Inclusion Plan Progress Report: The first 5 years
Find out more about our first five years from 2017 to 2022 in this work, our goals, accountability, lessons learned, unexpected progress, and where we’re going from here in our progress report linked here.
What have we been up to lately?
We’ve had the chance to participate in many external workshops and trainings and help each other do internal work and learning as well. We’ve turned to the leadership of marginalized groups in collaborative project development, and are continually learning and deepening our partnerships over time. At the board and staff level, we’ve been taking a close look at our policies and practices and restructuring them to be more equitable from recruitment for hiring to how we hold relationships with each other.
Here are some of our most recent highlights…
Leach Back 5 project
The Leach Back 5 project was conceived in 2018 as a living laboratory to provide science and mindfulness experiences through a habitat restoration project with BIPOC youth. The 3 acres that was previously a pig farm is being transformed into a healthy native ecosystem and urban field station. This five partner project includes the Blueprint Foundation, The African Youth and Community Organization, Wisdom of the Elders, Leach Botanical Garden, and the Johnson Creek Watershed Council. Full website and video projects telling the story of this project are coming soon- ETA June 30, 2023!
Community Inclusion Committee (CIC)
The Community Inclusion Committee meets every other month. Recent projects we’ve been working on include a workplace culture document for new employees, legal review of our employee handbook with special attention to discrimination and harassment, discussion of restorative/transformative justice methods for use at JCWC, demographic collection, and integrating the Equity Action Plan with the Strategic Plan.
One staff member and our board chair have been participants in two of the Intertwine’s equity cohort trainings, in the Change Agent and Implementation cohorts. These experiences crystalize many of the existing DEI learning and trainings we have completed in the past and put them into concrete forms, such as vision statements, personal equity lenses, learning modules, group problem solving, and peer support networks. This is approximately 30 hours of learning and practice each.
Two staff participated in an invite-only, two-half day Meyer Memorial Trust Tribal relations workshop. This highlighted a brief history of Indigenous treaty law, ‘the four pillars of our people,’ a discussion on land acknowledgements, and best practices for working with tribes in environmental organizations.
Weekly staff meetings have historically had a 30 minute, rotating staff led DEI discussion section, and our staff made the plunge away from talk and into action! We have shifted the focus into project focused work, where the full staff can have a role in planning, and implementing a DEI focused project that impacts the watershed. Currently we are in the works on a DEI centered stormwater project.
Policies and practices we have in place
Volunteer Creek Crew Leaders Interrupting Bias training
Our volunteer leaders are trained to work with restoration volunteers and receive hands-on training for how to address racial and other biases in a productive way as a leader representing JCWC.
Employee Handbook updates
Legal review, resulting in identifying options for safe routes to report harassment or discrimination, and incorporating ideals of a restorative justice framework when dealing with harm.
Hiring practices for contractors who are on the Minority-owned, Women-owned, and Emerging Small Businesses list
A ranking system for selecting contracts includes positive points for if the contractor is on the MWESB list.
The Workplace Culture Handbook is a living document and an accompaniment to the Employee Handbook, which is a set of policies regarding workplace conduct. Both of these documents will be given to employees, Board, and interns when they are oriented to their work with the Council. The Employee Handbook encompasses legal policies and actions regarding harassment, discrimination, pay, vacation, and other logistics of employee conduct while working at the Council.
At the Johnson Creek Watershed Council (JCWC), we aspire to a higher standard of interpersonal conduct for our employees and interns than the law requires. Thus, the Workplace Culture Handbook is intended to outline our cultural standards as an organization.
-Values and expectations agreement for speakers and other representatives
People in positions of power who represent the council are asked to consider the relevancy, messages and methods they plan to use when interacting with our community, for example, at events.
What’s coming up in the future
Policies and practices we’re working on:
-An official equity lens:
We have been practicing and implementing equity thought and action in all of our programming and policies, but would like to develop a formal equity lens by the end of 2021.
-DEI training resources for new Board members
Personal commitment to DEI is a priority characteristic in members of our Board, and we want to share resources with newcomers to orient them to where we’re at organizationally in this work.
-Relationship building strategy for the full Board
Capacity building strategy to guide Board members in long-lasting, reciprocal relationship building with community partners, to support in staff efforts to minimize loss of relationships in turnover in either Board or staff.
-Integrating the Equity Action Plan with the Strategic Plan
Equity becomes more interwoven to our fundamental guiding policies.
Thoughts or feedback? Please let us know! Email [email protected]