Our mission is to advance the health and sustainability of our region’s watersheds, rivers, streams and habitats - both in natural areas and urban neighborhoods. We do this through science-based research, education and inclusive stakeholder engagement.
CWH Values and Visioning
Dear Partners and Friends,
This past year has been full of reflection and growth for Council for Watershed Health (CWH). Our mission to advance the health and sustainability of our region’s watersheds for all continues to guide us as our work intersects with recent and widespread social challenges. We publicly recognize the impacts of systemic oppression and environmental racism, and we’ve been actively reflecting on our principles and practices related to diversity, inclusion, equity, and justice.
Our initial reflection questions centered around questions of “how.” How do we envision our organization’s responsibility to diversity, inclusion, equity, and justice? How are our personal and organizational values reflected in our work? And how do we take on a values visioning process as a team?
In early August 2021, we started this process with an all staff workshop led by consultant Susan Gust. Together, we built trust, revisited the founding goals of CWH, talked through what we and others appreciate about this organization, and openly discussed opportunities for growth and improvement related to diversity, inclusion, equity, and justice. This kind of work is humbling; it took honest conversations to get the process started.
Working Group Meetings
We then created a staff working group to carry the work forward. This group centers the trust and consensus decision-making that we fostered in our original staff workshop. The process hasn’t always been linear and it has led to many important and valued discussions and decisions.
We identified and are following the ten step process of the Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Collaborative’s Self Guided Pathway. So far, our working group has accomplished the first four steps by:
1. Engaging staff and leadership
2. Designing a supportive infrastructure & creating an internal committee
3. Coming to a shared understanding of diversity, inclusion, equity, and justice
4. Crafting a values statement
Next, we will review and finalize our values statement with our Board of Directors. This statement will foster accountability to ourselves, our partners, and the greater community. It will be a living document that can be reviewed and refined as our values and work expand. We will then identify our commitments and develop an action plan, create key performance indicators, get buy-in from our entire staff, and seek community support. Lastly, we will implement our plan - and after some time, revisit and renew it.
We agree with the many thought leaders and activists who have shared that a systems approach is needed to uncover and change how oppression functions at personal, interpersonal, institutional, and cultural levels. We’re proud of the progress made thus far, and we’re committed to continuing this work in the new year and beyond. We want to thank those around us who are leading on this path and we look forward to learning from others who are also on this journey.