Staying silent in times of injustice is a privilege. We stand in support of racial equality, and all those who are working to achieve it.
Recent events compel all of us to examine how systemic racial and economic injustice occur in our communities and organizations. We recognize that the recent instances of murder and violence are not isolated incidents, but rather part of our country’s long history of systemic racism and structural disenfranchisement of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC).
The Androscoggin Land Trust’s mission is to protect, through land conservation and stewardship, the important natural areas, traditional landscapes, and outdoor experience in the Androscoggin River watershed. Especially in these difficult times, being outdoors in nature is a healing refuge for many. We also recognize all members of the communities we serve cannot enjoy outdoor spaces equally for reasons including racism, homophobia, transphobia, and poverty. We also acknowledge that land ownership, land conservation, and land theft have been used as tools of oppression and contributed to marginalization of BIPOC in this country and around the world. Therefore, we cannot separate movements for social justice from our mission to conserve land and to connect people to it. We cannot truly fulfill our mission unless all people, whatever their color, gender, country of origin, or economic status, feel able to safely enjoy our natural areas and outdoor spaces.
We acknowledge that we, as a currently white-led organization in a predominantly white professional field, have a long way to go to listen, learn, and act to address these complex issues within our land conservation work. Cultivating a more diverse and inclusive team on our board and staff is part of our work. We don’t have all the answers, but we recognize that it is our responsibility to join with millions of others in speaking up and refusing to settle for a culture that tolerates inequality, injustice, and violence.
To read a letter responding to recent events from the Maine Land Trust Network that our organization co-signed with many land trusts across the state, please click here.
If you’re interested to learn more about race and land conservation, here is some suggested reading: The Rise of the American Conservation Movement, Power, Privilege, and Environmental Protection, by Dorceta E. Taylor