Diversity & Inclusion in Co-operate WNC
Participation in Co-operate WNC is based in an authentic commitment to collaboration, and in practice of a shared set of ethics as articulated by the Permaculture movement. These include:
Taking care of the Earth
Taking care of people
Co-operation for economic & social justice
In the global Permaculture community, a project must deeply satisfy these ethics in order to be considered Permaculture. Similarly, Co-operate WNC is designed to help its members and projects live up to these ethics.
Historically, membership in many mutual aid organizations was based in ethnic, cultural, religious, or occupational identity. This identity basis was necessary for some marginalized groups to band together to survive in the presence of overwhelming hostile institutional powers. Some of these historical Mutual Aid Societies organized by women and people of color are the most inspiring and effective models for our own current organizing.
Co-operate WNC offers an experiment as a mutual aid organization based in an identity of shared values rather than a specific demographic identity.
Diversity, Inclusion & Healing Institutional Oppression
We understand that we live embedded inside a vast history and present condition of institutionalized racism, ecocide, sexism, violence, genocide, slavery and economic oppression. We see that any effort like this one cannot pretend to be "colorblind" or otherwise neutral in relationship to these traumatic truths, because we are then simply ignoring the realities around access to power, money and knowledge.
Given this context, we recognize how important it is to have diverse participation in Co-operate WNC at all levels, including leadership, particularly in the early stages before we cement patterns of exclusive white culture into the DNA of the organization. We recognize how destructive "tokenism" can be, and we instead are seeking deep collaboration based on authentic human relationships.
At the same time, our founding group is white and our existing networks are primarily white. We recognize this fact as a major challenge, both in terms of serving those who might need mutual aid most, and in terms of the organization finding success by engaging the participation and expertise of people of color and other marginalized groups who have the most historical experience with mutual aid organizing.
So, we are embarking on a journey of humble learning and self-examination, relationship-making and organizational development. Our existing staff are pursuing training and mentorship around racial equity, we are reaching out to advisers and consultants for wisdom on inclusive organizational development and appropriate ways to approach diverse communities, and we are actively seeking respectful pathways into organic friendship, collaboration, and partnership with a more diverse network.
Our goal is that in the near to mid-term this attitude and approach will engage people from diverse backgrounds to participate in our leadership, staff, Board and volunteer positions as well as membership in Co-operate WNC.
If you are a person of color with interest and/or expertise in this arena, and/or you have relationships with those who have interest, please reach out to us to say hello, get involved, and offer suggestions or feedback. Thank you.