Published June 8, 2020
Farm & Wilderness has a long history of striving to create a welcoming environment that values and demonstrates diversity, equity, and inclusion for our campers and staff. We acknowledge that we have struggled at times and not always gotten it right. We want to take this time of leadership changes as an opportunity to re-affirm our long-term commitment to this work. Our Board of Trustees has a long-standing Inclusivity & Equity committee comprised of diverse members of our community. This group governs the work of our staff in our Program and Inclusivity & Equity Teams.
As an organization, our year-round staff want to emphasize that we are looking internally at refining our systems, such as our hiring practices, staff training, professional development, and conflict resolution processes so they reflect our organizational commitment to dismantling white supremacy culture.
It is important for us to create a camp community, including our summer staff, that is diverse across race, class and gender identities and that represents the diversity among our campers as well. While we actively recruit people from many different backgrounds, we acknowledge the need to improve how we care for and provide leadership opportunities for those staff members. Our BIPOC staff have consistently brought to our attention the challenges of working in a rural environment and predominantly white organization and we are seeking ways to mitigate those challenges. This includes:
- Continuing to provide our seasonal and year-round staff with Inclusivity & Equity training to build their knowledge and skill before campers arrive. These tools will shape the camper experience and their own. Staff should be prepared to identify teachable moments and lead discussions around allyship with campers and other staff members, which arise from both natural curiosity and planned programming around topics of racism, classism, sexism and more.
- Intentionally and regularly holding space for year-round staff to engage in discussion, self-examination, and action around our growth as anti-racists and the goals of our Inclusivity & Equity plan as a living document within the administration of our organization.
Our intention with our summer programming has always been that campers will experience a multicultural setting and become comfortable discussing issues around race, gender, and class, and with older campers, the structure of privilege. Is there more work to do be done? Of course. We are committing to continuing to do the work, learning from our mistakes, and strengthening and informing our approach as we move forward in this time of transition.
As always, we want to hear your thoughts and feedback. If you would like to have a conversation, I encourage you to reach out to me at Jay@farmandwilderness.org to share your thoughts, feedback, or to schedule a time to talk. I’d love to hear about your experience and thoughts on how Farm & Wilderness can strengthen its approach to these issues that are important to us all.
Jay Kullman, Interim Executive Director
Posted in News From Our Executive Director