Each month since July, a CLCC staff member has shared a blog post discussing and recommending a resource, individual, or organization who we’re following as we actively work to address the systemic racism we encounter personally and professionally. We’ve found this to be meaningful and thought provoking, and have enjoyed integrating what we have learned into our weekly staff meeting discussions.
This month is my turn, and I’ve chosen to share some of the things I learned from the inspiring speakers who joined us at CLCC’s 2020 CT Land Conservation (Virtual) Conference on October 17, starting with keynote speaker, Rue Mapp, Founder/CEO, Outdoor Afro.
In response to a question as to how land trusts and others may partner with Outdoor Afro, Rue challenged us to think more deeply about how we define partnerships.
In particular, she encouraged us to think about partnerships more in the context of relationship building, and offered the following avenues:
- Participate in existing Outdoor Afro programs. Connecticut is fortunate to have a strong Outdoor Afro leadership team, offering a range of programs in which to participate—from day hikes to back-packing to bird-watching. They also are interested in engaging in other organization’s activities.
- Ideate together on accessibility. Land trusts are in the business of owning land and offering the variety of opportunities to recreate that go along with it. How can your organization work with Outdoor Afro and other groups to get more people out on your land trust properties?
- Sponsor each other. Build relationships with Outdoor Afro and other groups whose mission you believe in by sponsoring the work that they are already doing.
- Frame the relationship. When thinking about partnerships, are we giving people an opportunity to first develop a love for the land—through unstructured play, recreational touches, and immersions in nature–before asking them to participate in stewardship projects and organized work parties? This is particularly important for communities that lack equitable access to greenspaces and outdoor recreational opportunities.
And perhaps my favorite takeaway: Don’t wait for a checklist on how to break down barriers or rely upon some toolkit for cultivating relationships.
Building partnerships is about embracing this moment, reaching out, getting to know each other, and coming together around a common love for the outdoors—one step at a time.
Amy Blaymore Paterson
P.S. Read previous CLCC staff blog posts by Katharine Lange, Rebecca Dahl, Cristina Hayden, and Yaw Darko. View CLCC’s collection of Anti-Racism Resources. Get to know Outdoor Afro. Contact me—let’s talk!