Follow-up questions to Nov. 11 Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Webinar | eePRO @ NAAEE
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Follow-up questions to Nov. 11 Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Webinar

Thank you once again to Marcelo Bonta, Stefan Moss and Audrey Peterman for serving as guest panelists for today's webinar... Part II of Building a Successful 21st Century EE Movement: Accelerating Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in Environmental Movements! They will be serving as discussion board hosts until Nov. 23 should any of our audience members have any follow-up questions from the webinar.

Marcelo, Audrey and Stefan- Would any of you like to respond to the following question which we ran out of webinar time to answer?..."Can you provide suggestions for working with families of the underserved to reinforce the EE learning? We do not have a problem involving underserved youth in our EE programs but getting the families involved is a challenge."

Speaking very candidly, we have been concerned for years about the inequality in the environmental arena that places our young people in the charge of mostly-white educators who seem to prefer to deal with this impressionable group rather than with their parents who potentially have more “baggage.”

So your question raises the flip side of that – ie, how can environmental educators develop meaningful relationships with adults of color in predominantly urban communities, especially when they are the elders of the young people the EE professionals serve?

I’d say we need to start off with an honest assessment – putting ourselves in the others’ place.

How would we feel to be considered the “challenging” family of “under served” young people?

Exactly. Those words have specific connotations and are not positive.
However, we can strive to find ways to include the families of the young people we serve in enjoying and treasuring the natural world, and benefiting from the information we have to share.

That will include devising an outreach program that is meaningful and relevant to the particular community – including reaching out to them, appreciating their focus and needs, inviting them to the outdoors “table” in a social setting with others of their peers, conceivably including refreshments.

At www.delnsb.com we devise such programs, so please let us know if you need help.

In addition to Audrey's excellent recommendations, I would add from my own experience that if the organization in question is seriously interested in offering family-focused programs, this organization needs to seriously and honestly ask some stakeholders from the targeted group if such programs would interest them I the first place, and how the organization can develop programs that are relevant to this group's needs.

There are many community groups, places of worship and social service agencies that are already offering parent/child support services whether it be parenting programs, ESL classes, social justice activism, neighborhood watch support. If you approach such groups who already understand the value and importance of the family unit in supporting their child's growth and success, the organization may be surprised in how their EE programs and such community programs overlap.

Such community group feedback will also help the organization better understand the different cultural definition of the family unit...in my community a typical Asian-immigrant family may include the parents and two children and two grandparents whereas a typical Hispanic family unit may include a mom, four children, an aunt and her three children and a grandmother.

Understanding the cultural family nuances will influence your program design...and staffing. You will really attract folks from such groups uif the staff member talks in the same language, has the same shared cultural experiences and values, and looks like the folks you would like to serve.

Marcelo- A question that popped up in the chat box during the webinar was "Where can I find Marcelo's article on white privilege and environmental philanthropy?" Can I also ask how has the funding community reacted to your blog?

Along with the brilliant response of my colleagues, I would like to add the value of leveraging your current success in youth involvement as a way to draw in families. I worked as a youth mentor for many years and struggled also with parent support. I noticed that whenever we had ceremonies to honor the success of our teenagers, parents would come to "show their faces". I capitalized on this opportunity and used those graduation celebrations to have one-on-one time with parents and engage them directly. It worked and we ended up having more parents getting involved and even volunteering at our events!

Marcelo, Audrey and Stefan thank you for taking the time to give such insightful answers. i really enjoyed the webinar on Thursday. I have question for our panelist. I have a friend who is interested in hiring a diversity coordinator for his organization. Do you feel like this is a useful position for a mid-size organization? In addition are there resources you would recommend that he use to model the position from?

Answering this questions..."Can you provide suggestions for working with families of the underserved to reinforce the EE learning? We do not have a problem involving underserved youth in our EE programs but getting the families involved is a challenge."

1. Ask yourself first, "why is it important that we engage families?"
2. Reach out to the families directly. Focus on building relationships first, not pushing your agenda. When parents show up, talk to them, listen to them, focus on the relationship, then see what comes of it later. Or go to where they gather even if (and especially if) it has nothing to with environmentalism, show up, and build relationships.

From Daryl- "'Where can I find Marcelo's article on white privilege and environmental philanthropy?' Can I also ask how has the funding community reacted to your blog?"

Here's the link- https://philanthropynw.org/news/what-we-can-do-about-environmental-phila...

For the most part, the blog has been well received (as you can tell by much of the follow up commentary). I know this article was going to push the envelope and make some people uncomfortable, which was the point. As I learned from Queta Gonzalez, Center for Diversity and the Environment's Director, it is is these places of discomfort where we lean into our learning edge. My goal with this article as with much of my work was to uplift the voice of people of color- to bring my voice and wisdom as someone who has worked on racial DEI issues for over a decade and to bring up the common themes, concerns, and solutions that come from people of color in the field. Saying that, I believe much of the supportive comments came from those working at non-profits rather than foundation staffers.

I would love to hear reactions from those of you on this thread- with what do you agree or disagree? what do you want to learn more about? what is missing or what would you like to add?

Regarding Parker's question, "I have a friend who is interested in hiring a diversity coordinator for his organization. Do you feel like this is a useful position for a mid-size organization? In addition are there resources you would recommend that he use to model the position from?"

I am often asked this question. My answer... First, do the foundational work as an organization, develop an organizational diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) strategy/plan, provide staff and board DEI training to inform the strategy, gather your DEI change agents and provide space for them strategize and think deeply, develop a vision of your desired future state, develop benchmarks based on this vision, acknowledge how you will do your work differently and be committed to a change management process, etc. After you complete the foundational work, then see if it makes sense to hire a diversity coordinator. Be clear on the job duties (which ideally will be co-created by internal DEI change agents) and be careful of the trap that people may default to the coordinator as the sole person doing diversity work. For DEI to be successful, all staff and board must own it and apply it to their own work. DEI capacity building is crucial for success and means developing the DEI knowledge and skills of each staff and board member.

If at this point, you conclude that you need a specific staff member, then from this work (identifying needs, opportunities, strategic work, etc.), you should be able to co-create a job description that will be tailored to meet your specific DEI needs and objectives.