On January 19, the day after Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, nearly 200 Durham and Chapel Hill community members met for the first workshop of four on Racial Equity and Environment.
This workshop series was born from needs specifically identified by members of the Durham Environmental Coalition and it is sponsored by the Nicholas School of the Environment at Duke University, The Burt’s Bees Foundation, as well as Ellerbe Creek Watershed Association, Keep Durham Beautiful, TreesDurham, and the Triangle Land Conservancy.
In this first session, Paul James, of Lighthouse Strategy Consulting led us through Community Norms, including committing to a “deep sense of conversation confidentiality” and “not attempt[ing] to co-opt someone’s narrative or journey”.
The group also review assumptions and goals for this process, explored some of the work of James Baldwin and Margaret Heffernan, and level-set with a discussion of key terminology for this work (e.g., diversity, implicit association, equality vs. equity). In this, a connection was made: power + influence + bias = destruction. Also, the idea emerged that leadership must embrace difference and give people an opportunity to belong. In small groups, people explored the concepts of race, racism, and institutional betrayal.