Wisdom Within Circle
COLT is excited to announce the launch of the Wisdom Within circle, an intentional space created for womxn and non-binary people of Black, Indigenous and Person of Color (BIPOC) identities in the conservation community.
Wisdom Within is led by Dez Ramirez (she/her), a third-generation Mexican-American and Chicana, and me, Katie Young (she/her), of Asian Pacific Islander ancestry.
After spending the past few years in the Oregon land trust community, it didn’t take us long to see the limited BIPOC representation and perspective. Within our work, it is not uncommon for us to be the only person of color in the room. We have been invested in understanding and leading equity work in land trust circles, and along the way we identified a need to create a space like Wisdom Within.
Understanding equity within conservation work is nuanced, layered, and long-term work. Our hope is that Wisdom Within supports the community it was created for, which will ultimately better advance conservation in our state and region.
The concept of the Wisdom Within circle was born. As the conservation community unpacks the historical injustices on the land and Native American land loss in this country, communities of color have a distinct role in understanding where they fit in the discussion as non-white occupiers on Indigenous land.
Additionally, as more BIPOC look to join conservation work, womxn of color and non-binary people of color need a space to explore their own identity stories, relationship to Indigenous ancestry, and the intersection of conservation work – especially when addressing land justice, which we define as seeking justice for the historical removal of Indigenous presence and connection on the landscape.
So, who is this community for exactly?
Those of BIPOC identities inherently have a relationship to the earth and the land, and this budding community aims to create space for gathering, nurturing, and even rebuilding that relationship to the land. Not all BIPOC have had the privilege to establish a strong connection or relationship to land, earth, and the environment. In some instances, the land and environment has historically been used as a weapon against BIPOC communities. We’d like to see this change.
We acknowledge that the feminine identity is a spectrum, and traditional use of the term women is not truly inclusive. We move forward with the hope that the circle is the gathering of the Indigenous feminine spirit, the sharing of stories and experiences of nature, ancestry, and identity, and the building of a community that can help sustain the environment and also feel spiritually nourished by it.
Wisdom Within hopes to spur growth of a new conservation community that honors the strength of our collective internal wisdom and collaboration with one another. Through gathering and communing, the Wisdom Within circle will be a place to come together and explore the Indigenous spirit, share stories and experiences of our relationship to the natural world, and understand how our ancestors and our identity shows up in the work we do with land and the environment.
If you are a womxn and non-binary person of BIPOC identity engaging in conservation and interested in joining Wisdom Within, please contact us to get involved by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
We also welcome anyone of all identities to reach out about this important work. Send us questions, we’ll do our best to answer them! We believe in supporting more community-focused initiatives around healing and empowering marginalized populations and are happy to connect. We hope to meet you soon.