The Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Forums are local or regional level dialogues that convene the environmental community and communities of color to discuss and find action-oriented solutions to the problems that perpetuate a racial divide in the environmental movement.  Forums, like CDE’s other sessions and retreats, emphasize the creation of safe space in which open dialogue, deep learning, and heart and head level change can all take place. In 2008 and 2009, a pilot Diversity & Environment Forum Series was held in Portland, Oregon, which built a broad, diverse, and powerful coalition of community and environmental leaders and yielded recommendations for concrete actions to help facilitate moving this work forward. Nearly 220 leaders from over 110 environmental, sustainability, environmental justice, and social justice institutions participated in the series. Together they made several key recommendations to help guide organizations in a more successful path forward. From those recommendations emerged CDE’s Exploring Power, Privilege, and Tools for Change Retreat, which guides participants in a deep exploration of their individual lenses and filters, and an examination of the role of power and privilege in their lives, their work, and in the larger environmental movement. Participants also created individual and organizational diversity action plans, and their success stories include: development of diversity strategies and initiatives; initiation of community needs assessments; board diversification; new recruitment practices; equity audits; and staff trainings. Read the report here.

In the fall of 2011, CDE held two Environmental Health and Equity Forums at Metro Regional Center and at the June Key Delta Center. The forum brought together nearly 75 top leaders and thinkers in the environmental, sustainability, equity, environmental justice, and social justice fields to discuss and find action-oriented solutions to issues such as: gentrification; community displacement; health inequities; inequitable park and greenspace access; greening of neighborhoods; and income disparities. These forums are turning out to be an invaluable organizing vehicle for engaging interested community members, building partnerships, strengthening our networks, and developing a comprehensive strategy for moving this important work forward.

Participant feedback:

“The forum was AMAZING. The tools and follow up materials have been incredibly helpful, and I have already begun sharing the fruits of this forum with folks in my position across the country…We are really moving the mark here in Portland, actually much faster than other parts of country, as far as I can tell. I can’t tell you how thankful I am that [my institution] is so well connected with The Center for Diversity and the Environment, and now, with many other organizations also addressing this important topic.”
~ Michelle Emmons, REI

“I see [the forum] as a great beginning to a long conversation and a lot of hard work ahead. It’s important to know that organizations see diversity as integral part of the environmental movement. It has given me hope that the redefining of environmentalism can happen, that people of color can be seen as part of the movement, and that this will lead to greater environmental justice.”