As we continue to reflect on the violence and hate, the peaceful protest and celebration, and the ongoing dialog in our workplaces, schools, homes, and communities… it is abundantly clear that we have a responsibility for action, acknowledgment, and accountability. Metro DNA stands with our leadership partners in stating, without question or qualification, that Black Lives Matter. We have not done enough to deconstruct the racism and oppression that are at the root of the problem, and we will do better, both as an organization and a network of partners.
We believe in and work toward a future when all Metro Denver residents have equitable access to parks, open spaces, and other kinds of nature meaningful to them; all Metro Denver communities integrate nature to promote healthy, active residents; this region protects, restores, and stewards natural systems that support people, wildlife, and ecological function.
We cannot achieve this vision without cultivating an open, shared, and adaptive learning environment that actively seeks to include broadly diverse perspectives. In the words of Black environmentalist Leah Thomas, “The longer racism is not addressed, the harder it will be to save the planet, in part because Black activists’ time and energy are being drained. Inclusive climate justice activist Mikaela Loach notes that allies should ‘step up, so Black folks have the time and energy to invest in creating climate solutions’ instead of using our energy to ‘explain [our] existence to other people’ in predominantly white environmentalist spaces.”
We condemn anti-Black racism, violence, and harassment. We commit to the following actions to better understand and lean into our role in dismantling institutional racial inequality within the environmental movement at home and more broadly.
Immediately and over the next year, Metro DNA will:
- Support and lift up our Black-led and Black-serving partners who work each day toward representation, equal opportunity, and youth development in the outdoors. Check out this emerging project – a Digital Green Book – by Crystal Egli (Colorado Parks & Wildlife and Inclusive Journeys) and Parker McMullen Bushman (Butterfly Pavilion and Ecoinclusive).
- Complete anti-racism training as a Steering Committee and partner network through Summit for Action and other avenues, building on existing Metro DNA and partner commitments to equity and investments in learning and action.
- Make thoughtful changes within our organization that are necessary to live up to our equity principles and commitments (e.g., staff and leadership accountability, partnership structure and commitment, how events are planned and facilitated) and led by our POC (people of color) and LGBTQIA (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, and asexual) partners.
- Continue to facilitate dialog among Metro DNA partners and stakeholders around equitable access to nature, safety and representation in the outdoors, and breaking down barriers to the decision making power necessary to our achieving a thriving region for people + nature. This will take shape in our Stakeholder Convenings and other small group meetings.
- Purposefully integrate diverse voices and ways of knowing into the Regional Conservation Assessment as we co-create a Regional Vision for People + Nature, ensuring that this data-driven exercise is inclusive and transparent, is not extractive, and is able to uplift people with marginalized identities.
We thank our partners and supporters for their words and actions in support of Black lives and encourage others to step up and speak out in solidarity.
Cottonwood Institute – “As an organization that directly works with Youth of Color in the outdoors, CI stands in solidarity with Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) communities. The fight for racial equity in the outdoors is our responsibility as an organization and we take action to ensure Youth and Families of Color feel safe, welcomed, represented, heard, and supported in their homes, communities, and especially in the outdoors.” Read the full statement online.
Rocky Mountain Land Use Institute, University of Denver – “Here at RMLUI, we bear witness to the devastation wrought in communities of color and have asked ourselves how we can confront the racism that underlies our history of land use planning and access to property ownership in America and in this region. What can we do to better understand the roles that land use law and policy have had in creating barriers to opportunity, promoting segregation, and in contributing to the health and economic disparities experienced by people of color? Because the role of RMLUI has always been to convene thought leaders, to facilitate conversations, and to educate professionals, that’s where we’ll begin.” Read the full statement, sent via email, here.
Denver Parks and Recreation – As protests and marches continue in the parks and in the streets, the City is stepping up and speaking out against anti-black racism, most notably through collaboration with local artists supported by Denver Arts & Venues and Denver Parks & Recreation. On Friday, June 12, artist Adri Norris and a team of volunteers painted the words “Black Lives Matter” across Broadway near the Capitol protest site. The Black Love Mural Festival is a collaboration among twenty black artists curated by Rob the Art Museum to create positive art on mobile mural walls in support of Black Lives Matter. Completed in time for Juneteenth, this past Friday, the murals will remain up through June 30. Denver Parks & Recreation’s Executive Director, Allegra “Happy” Haynes, also released a statement to employees on June 18, which read, in part: “Like so many communities across the country that have been protesting to express their outrage and grief about the brutal murder of George Floyd, our Denver community has come together in a spirit of unity and resolve to address the institutionalized racism and discrimination that underlies this national crisis and to heal the wounds that divide us. For the first time, people of all backgrounds are coming together to say, ‘enough is enough’ and that together we must address this problem at its core. It is no longer just one group or another’s problem, but our collective responsibility to end racial injustice.” Read the full statement, sent via email, here.
The Trust for Public Land – “The killings of Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and many other Black Americans has rightfully stirred grief and anger across our nation. The Trust for Public Land stands against racism and the racial violence that has long plagued this country and continues to threaten the lives and livelihoods of Black people as well as Hispanic, Asian, Indigenous, and other communities of color. We believe every person deserves the right to feel safe and welcome on our streets and in our schools, in our parks and on our public lands. Every person deserves the right to express their beliefs in peaceful protest and public demonstration.” Read the full statement online.
The Nature Conservancy – “At The Nature Conservancy, we aim to create a world where people and nature thrive. Acts of racism and violence threaten this goal, harm our communities, and put vulnerable lives at risk… Many will ask why a nature conservation organization is weighing in on this dialogue. Does it really impact our mission? My answer is: yes, it does. And yes, we must speak out. When injustice reigns—whether it is unequal access to nature, unfair and inequitable laws, or police brutality—we must all do our part to push for change.” Read the full statement online.
National Wildlife Federation – Multiple NWF leaders have contributed to an organization-wide anti-racism dialog in the last few weeks, including their president and CEO, Collin O’Mara, and Vice President of Equity and Justice, Chanté Coleman. “We must do more in response to the brutal murders of Black men and women George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, the threats of police violence towards Christian Cooper, and the militaristic response to protests in many cities—which are the latest injustices of a 400 year history of brutalization and dehumanization… If we’re going to fulfill our mission, we must live up to our equity and justice values.” Read the statements, sent via email, here.
Network for Landscape Conservation – The organization behind our Catalyst Fund grant and its supporting peer learning network, the NLC is committed to advancing the practice of conservation at the landscape scale. In a recent email from their leadership team, NLC The Network for Landscape Conservation stated their commitment to “embodying and advancing diverse, equitable, and inclusive conservation. This core value is a fundamental pillar of our work and of the collaborative landscape conservation movement overall. We condemn the systemic anti-black racism and injustice that has pervaded our country for 400 years… [and] embrace the urgent need for concerted action and societal change.” Read the full statement, sent via email, here.
Colorado Nonprofit Development Center – Our fiscal sponsor has also come out against anti-Black racism and is taking internal action and supporting the actions of projects, including Metro DNA, to change. “CNDC stands in solidarity with those fighting for justice and dismantling the structure of White supremacy in our communities. Systemic and structural racism still affects nearly every aspect of life in America. It leads to persistent and oppressive inequities in health, education, employment, housing, and safety for communities or color, especially the Black community. It is quite literally killing people. This is unjust, unfair and unacceptable. Change is overdue. And it starts with each of us.” Read the full statement online.
Together, we can foster an equitable, inclusive, and thriving home for people + nature throughout Metro Denver. Please join us in learning and taking action.
This statement was originally sent to all Metro DNA partners via email on June 22, 2020.