The 8th Annual Delaware River Watershed Forum organized and hosted by the Coalition for the Delaware River Watershed, September 2020 is an outstanding example of hosting a conference that is inclusive in equitable structure, messengers, and content. In the midst of a pandemic nonetheless.
As we build a future together, we must consider ways that white centered culture in the environmental field can change and stop harming black and brown people at every level.
The 8th Annual Delaware River Watershed Forum stands out as a model of diversity, inclusion, equity, and justice, for all of us to follow. Every one of the workshops that I viewed seemed to demonstrate a healthy serving of DEIJ. Plus the coalition for the Delaware River watershed created The Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Justice toolkit for the rest of us to consider and use.
Access Delaware River Watershed presentations: Uniting The Delaware River Watershed
This annual forum and the toolkit provide resources for continuing the conversation on the change that is happening, that needs to happen, in the environmental field with regards to white supremacy culture.
Resource: Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Justice of the Coalition for the Delaware River Watershed
The Town Hall with U.S. Representative Antonio Delgado (NY-19) & DRBRP Lighting Rounds -2020 DRW Forum presentation stepped solidly and unapologetically into the topic of diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice, acknowledging historical problems, and changing the narrative by example.
Recommended YouTube: Town Hall Presentation
There was no bemoaning of the lack of presence of people of color. Instead, stellar people of color were given the floor.
The opening speaker, Eric Stiles, from New Jersey Audubon Society acknowledged the harm done to people of color, and to trans folx. Then the floor and attention was centered on United State Representative from New York, Antonio Delgado. End of story. Excellent presentation by Rep Delgado.
Of note in the “lighting round” presentation following Rep Delgado’s presentation is the work done by Lamar Gore, Refuge Manager for Heinz Refuge Center, one of the 5 speakers. Follow Heinz on facebook, and look for Lamar’s comments about diversity the week or so after the “black while birding” incident of Central Park, NYC.
An Equally impressive presentation was Power and Privilege in the Workplace.
Recommended YouTube: Power and Privilege in the Workplace / 2020 Delaware River Watershed Forum
The lead expert was Todd Pride, Managing Director from The Land Conservancy for Southern Chester County (TLC). The topic was changing the diversity, equity, inclusion and justice of the board members of an organization. No apology, no small potatoes, the board needs to understand and embrace DEIJ. The workshop structure was: Todd as the senior expert, and two other people and organizations who had learned from Todd.
How often does an environmental conference give voice to a person of color who is the expert, demonstrating that white people can learn from a POC? This should not be momentous. But it is.
There were other presentations that were also excellent. During each presentation, the spotlight was shared amongst racially diverse presenters. One such presentation, by water utility leaders discussing COVID 19 challenges, included our own Randy Hayman, Commissioner of Philadelphia Water Department.
All in all, The 8th Annual Delaware Watershed Forum is a stellar example for all of us to follow.
We can be anti-racist by personal internal process, by intent, and by action. White centered culture is harming all of us by excluding some of us. We need all of us in order to be successful with facing today’s challenges that include climate change.
Resource: Dismantling Racism Works / White Supremacy Culture - White supremacy culture refers to the white centered culture that is (perhaps unconsciously) harming black and brown people.
Resource: New York Times / 1619 Podcast