Our Commitment to Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion
The Brunswick Topsham Land Trust has been working since 1985 to conserve, protect, and steward the cherished landscape and rich natural resources of our communities, to connect people to nature by providing recreational opportunities and other engaging community activities, and to support local agriculture and fisheries, now and for generations to come.
We began by conserving and stewarding land. Several years ago, we realized we had to make engaging and caring for our community central to our mission. As BTLT has matured, we have come to recognize that we have not included as broad a range of people in our work as we could have. We have learned that the conservation movement has a history fraught with exclusionary practices. We have learned that the history of the land we manage and an array of privileges that have supported our organization are rooted in the marginalization and disenfranchisement of many people. We have come to recognize that the burdens of environmental damage, climate change, and lack of access to land-based resources are disproportionately placed on communities of color, indigenous communities, people with physical and mental disabilities, LGBTQ+ individuals, and low-income communities because of biases and other disparities. We acknowledge our responsibility to understand that past and to commit to making the future different.
We are increasingly aware that to succeed in our mission and have the greatest impact on our community, we must engage a broader range of people from diverse backgrounds and experiences. Just as biodiversity strengthens natural systems, our conservation work is made stronger through diverse contributions, experiences, perspectives, and values. Our efforts to become an organization that embraces access and diversity for all will make us a stronger, more effective agent for environmental and societal good.
We also recognize that we have the resources to catalyze change and should make this a priority. BTLT has a history of developing collaborations, building trust, and rising to meet developing needs in our community. As a landowner, BTLT is uniquely situated to help redress longstanding inequities and historical injustices by recreating access that was taken away or unjustly limited in the past. In addition, we know that open space and wild places can help us come together, learn from one other, and build relationships. It is our responsibility to use the land we manage to foster this community building.
We believe it is imperative for the conservation community to build a more equitable, inclusive, and diverse movement. Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust (BTLT) is committed to being a leader and full partner in this transformation.
On behalf of this commitment, we will establish a strategic plan for diversity, equity, and inclusion in our work, with a set of goals, a plan for their implementation, and clear metrics to measure our success. We will invite community input on this plan, and work to implement diverse viewpoints into the plan itself. This plan will give further substance to these commitments we are making:
- BTLT will be more intentional about our staffing and engagement practices, and increase the diversity of our staff, board, volunteers, and members through strategic recruitment and partnerships. At the same time, we will continue examining our internal culture and policies for inclusiveness to help assure that those doing the work of BTLT feel welcomed, able to contribute, and valued.
- Through our programs and land conservation work BTLT will more proactively consider the proximity and accessibility to underserved communities. We will look for ways to identify how our work intersects with people and do our best to better understand who is there and who is not. We will actively seek partnerships that increase the opportunities of marginalized communities to access the natural world, recreational opportunities, and public lands, and will proactively find ways to meet the needs of the LGBTQ+, BIPOC, differently abled, and lower-income communities. We invite dialogue with and guidance from partners working on these issues and seek to develop collaborations with them.
- We will develop a process for more closely examining the history of the lands we manage (and seek to manage), from pre-colonial times to the present. We will find ways to tell these stories to support our community in better understanding a more full and complex history of our landscape.
The Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust acknowledges that our work takes place on the traditional land of the Wabanaki people. We recognize that these lands were not given up freely but taken by Europeans through forced displacement. This displacement caused cultural and physical devastation to Indigenous people with repercussions that continue to this day.
We honor and respect the Wabanaki people who have stewarded the lands and natural resources in our area for generations. We affirm our responsibility to build meaningful relationships with our Wabanaki neighbors in caring for these lands now and into the future.
We understand that this statement does not rectify the lasting harms experienced by the Wabanaki people. We recognize that we have much work to do to create a more inclusive conservation community. This acknowledgement is an essential beginning.