Earlier this month Metro's Parks and Nature Department approved its Racial Equity Diversity and Inclusion Action Plan and posted it to Metro's website.
Just days later, the plan was in action. With the help of the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion team and the Center for Diversity and the Environment, the Parks and Nature Department hosted an all-day equity training for more than 60 people from around the region on March 11.
Attendees represented environmental, community-based and culturally specific organizations, and the training was built specifically for applicants of Metro's Nature in Neighborhood grant program. Through stakeholder interviews from previous grant cycles, partners said they wanted DEI training and tools to help build new partnerships.
The training delivered definitions of diversity, equity and race; the foundational reasons of why racial equity is important and why it's important to Metro; and how to build meaningful and lasting partnerships.
The Parks and Nature Racial Equity Action Plan defines three desired outcomes - connect communities of color to resources, provide more equitable access to safe, welcoming parks, trails and natural areas, and help people of color connect with nature and one another in the region's parks and nature system. This training advanced each one of them.
Crista Gardner, the Nature in Neighborhood grants coordinator, said participant feedback from the training was overwhelmingly positive, and she was excited to see connections being made.
“I think it was awesome," Gardner said. "It was really satisfying to see how many connections people were making in the room. People were sitting at tables with other organizations. The noise level was really high. For me that's a huge success. Convening is a huge component of what we do at Metro and how we work. It's our culture and our role in the region."