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Our Commitment to Learning and Action on Equity and Inclusion

Posted Friday, April 2, 2021

At Stowe Land Trust, we are committed to ensuring that everyone in the Stowe area community is included in connecting to the beauty and health of our natural environment.

But we know this is not possible if you do not feel safe visiting our trails because of the color of your skin, your sexual orientation, or your gender identity.

It is not possible if you do not feel welcome because of the clothes you wear, the gear you do not have or your economic status.

It is not possible if your history with land is defined by loss and injustice.

It is not possible if you do not know where our lands or trails are or if you cannot get to them because you do not have transportation, time for leisure activities, or access to information.

It is not possible if you have been excluded from land access and ownership or feel that the conserved lands in our community are not for you or people like you.

It is not enough to protect land and make it available to the public. The work of conserving land for our community in a way that is truly equitable is urgent and complicated. We know that we do it imperfectly. And we are committed to trying to do it better so those who do not yet feel a sense of belonging on our conserved lands may also enjoy the benefits of our beautiful and healthy landscape.

For the past four months, we have focused on the conclusions of a 2019 consultant-generated Community Conservation Assessment to understand Stowe Land Trust’s strengths and opportunities for becoming a more inclusive community organization. These are some of the steps we are taking now in response to this internal work:

  • Starting to learn about issues of power, privilege and equity as they relate to land conservation. Creating a plan for additional board and staff learning in tandem with developing our next three-year Strategic Plan in 2022.

  • Finalizing an action plan that identifies priorities across all aspects of the organization for becoming a more inclusive organization that engages with our community more broadly and equitably. We recognize that internal work comes before and will inform external work.

  • Prioritizing community partnerships – particularly through our Summer Naturalist Program’s work with youth and families - that leverage our ability to help people access conserved lands when they might not otherwise have the opportunity to do so.

  • Evaluating our trails for accessibility and making our website more universally accessible in 2021.

This is just a start. We welcome and need your engagement and involvement in this journey: stay informed by signing up for our Enews, join in our outings and events, become a member, volunteer, and share your perspective, questions, and priorities with us anytime.

With humility and gratitude,

Kristen Sharpless and David Wilkens

Executive Director and Board Chair