SWMLC Statement on Inclusion, Diversity, Equity & Access
It has been a difficult year, with many upsetting stories in the news. As a land conservation organization focused on protecting land and restoring habitat, Southwest Michigan Land Conservancy isn’t used to talking about racial injustice.
But we cannot put our heads in the sand and ignore what is going on in the world around us. Nor should we. The board of directors of SWMLC has begun discussing the organization’s role and responsibility in the matter of supporting racial justice and inclusion for all peoples, and have recommitted to opposing all forms of discrimination. Further, we are committed to seeking broad diversity within our organization.
As a result, we wish to make everyone aware that the organization and its staff are committed to creating a culture where people from all walks of life are actively encouraged to collaborate and engage with SWMLC. We believe that everyone has a place in nature. We are not satisfied with the results of our efforts to serve marginalized communities, including those of color, in the southwest Michigan region and, though inclusion has always been a goal, we will actively pursue opportunities to make our nature preserves and our work more inclusive of these communities.
As a charitable organization approved by the Internal Revenue Service, SWMLC must work within our approved purpose and stay true to our mission, which states that we “seek to promote a healthy vision of community where people from diverse backgrounds can benefit from the restorative powers of nature.” In an effort to improve our performance in this area, we have created an Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Access Committee – composed of SWMLC staff and board – who are working together on strategies and specific actions to make SWMLC become a more inclusive and welcoming organization.