Our justice mission is trifold: to help people of privilege to change their mindsets and actions for a better world; to ensure underprivileged people have access to resources and tools to enact the changes they know are needed; to facilitate disparate groups of people working together to create the world we want.
You could say we have an ecosystems worldview — it seems obvious to us that everything is connected. For example, take the tall grass prairies that once covered much of what we now call the United States. If you were to stand in the middle of a prairie, it would seem that you were surrounded by multitudes of individual plants (along with bison, insects, birds and small mammals, to name just a few of the other organisms in the biotic community). But underneath the soil’s surface, just out of your vision, there’s a vast and complex network of connection. Underneath the surface of the soil, the perennial grasses are woven together via their root systems and mycorrhizae into a thick, strong tapestry.
Like the prairie grasses and the ground below it, we humans are also made of the same atoms, the same energy. Everything that exists is really no more a physical “thing” than it is a web of connections, of relationships. The tall grass prairie was in reality a complicated ecosystem of relationships. Even your body has more microbial DNA in it than it has human DNA in it. That’s right — your body is an ecosystem. Together, the communities of our ecosystems and our bodies create the biotic and human communities.
Separation is an illusion.
In his “A Christmas Sermon on Peace” in 1967, Martin Luther King, Jr. tied it all together beautifully: “It really boils down to this: that all life is interrelated. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied into a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly. . . This is the way our universe is structured, this is its interrelated quality. We aren’t going to have peace on Earth until we recognize this basic fact of the interrelated structure of all reality.”
Our systems view of the world requires us to see that relationships are the essential pattern of the universe. Our systems view also requires that we understand that just and equitable systems are essential to a sustainable world.
A sustainable world is thriving, healthy, abundant, equitable, and regenerative. It requires just institutions and systems. Because the currently dominant institutions and systems are not just, humans need a vision for how to get there. This is our justice vision.
- We know that people of color are disproportionately impacted by environmental degradation. But historically, people of color have been intentionally and unintentionally excluded from environmental leadership and decision-making, as well as other forms of leadership and privilege. We also know that people of color make up the vast majority of the world population, and that by 2042, the majority of people in the United States will be people of color. It is beyond time for power to shift and for people of color to be recognized as environmental leaders and to have access to better tools, resources, and opportunities to help them make their communities more sustainable.
- We know that women, girls, transgender people, and nonbinary people worldwide suffer discrimination and lack of access to resources that increase well-being and opportunity. Climate change and environmental degradation can exacerbate these inequalities, leading to instability and unrest, which in turn increase instances of domestic violence, child marriage, sexual assault, and hate crimes. We acknowledge the global multi-faceted need for gender equity. We have partnered with Project Drawdown and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals to work toward gender equity and women’s empowerment, which leads to a better world for us all.
- We know that globally, people with economic privilege are better represented -- by political representatives and legal entitlements, by popular media, and by legal representatives. The experience of poverty and the likelihood of living in poverty is compounded by other factors, including race, gender, and location. Poverty is not just lack of access to financial resources, but also means lack of access to resources that meet human needs, like nutritious food, health care (including mental health care), legal justice, education, job opportunities, and representation. This lack of access feeds into a cycle of poverty that is extremely difficult to break out of. A sustainable world is an equitable world where poverty is eradicated.
- We believe that empathy, systems thinking, and restorative justice are our best approaches for healing both the oppressed and the oppressor. This universal healing is necessary to prevent future injustices. By searching for solutions, we are appealing to the very best in the hearts and minds of our fellow humans. Creating and refining a solutions-based framework and abundance mindset is a necessarily collaborative process that requires diversity and inclusion.
- We believe our Ecochallenge events and Discussion Courses transform participants’ worldviews and lived actions. We educate from a systems perspective to help people realize the impact of their actions on other communities. We seek to tell stories that honor a variety of demographic backgrounds and lived experiences, provide opportunities to examine historical and individual bias, and create partnerships with organizations that help us diversify our audience and impact.
- We value systems thinking, equity, diversity, collaboration, reciprocity, compassion, and solutions-oriented approaches.
- We envision a world in which the human circle of compassion extends to all people whose skin color, thought, daily experience, and opportunity differ widely.
To achieve our mission, we commit to broadly apply an anti-racist, anti-bias equity framework in the following measurable ways:
- Culture - Acting as a learning organization
- Since 2015, we have participated in Intertwine Alliance’s Equity and Inclusion learning communities to assess our organizational equity; advance our language, skill sets, and toolkits; and integrate diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) into our organizational culture, policies, practices, and programming.
- As of May 2019, we hold monthly DEI meetings with our entire staff and a board representative.
- We will ensure that all new staff and board members receive anti-bias, anti-racist (ABAR) education within their first year of employment, paid for by Ecochallenge.org.
- Through weekly, monthly, and yearly formal and non-formal conversations, we will ensure our culture honors and nurtures the “head, heart, and hands” of each employee.
- Operations - Impacting communities in a positive way
- By December 1, 2020, we will develop and implement an operations equity policy.
- Hiring and employment - Implementing an equitable hiring process
- By January 1, 2020, we will develop and implement a hiring equity policy.
- We will actively recruit candidates from diverse backgrounds for new hires by increasing connections and relationships with diverse communities and leveraging partner networks that connect with diverse communities.
- We will use our hiring equity policy to limit the bias and increase the equity of our hiring process and outcomes.
- Audience and participants - Ensuring inclusion and accessibility by prioritizing cultural relevance
- As of July 31, 2019, we offer all instructions for Ecochallenge.org programs in formats accessible to hearing impaired and vision impaired people, including closed captions and written transcripts of interviews and longer-form videos.
- We will increase the number of partners we work with who: serve and support diverse audiences, work to increase equity in all spheres, and help us learn to be more equitable in our programs and policies.
- We aim to be bridge builders, connecting the dots among people, actions, and solutions.
- Programs and content - Increasing equity through education and engagement
- We educate our audience on environmental injustice and inequity, as well as the demonstrated solutions that eradicate them. In order to do this effectively and with humility, we also commit to finding ongoing opportunities for our staff to learn about sustainability issues and solutions from affected communities.
- In our programs and publications, we will center the perspectives and lived experiences of people marginalized by our societies, and articulated in their own voices.
- We actively work to decolonize the language we use in speaking about and addressing sustainability issues and solutions. This is an ongoing process that requires continual commitment, learning, and growth.
- We commit to leading when necessary and walking alongside or following when appropriate, but doing all with compassion and empathy.
Board and Staff of Ecochallenge.org