Our commitment to learning and action on injustice
In Vermont, racism and bigotry has been tied to land ownership and access. From the first land speculators who laid claim to indigenous lands; to campaigns in the early 20th century that recruited Northern Europeans to settle and farm in Vermont; and to the Vermont Eugenics Program which targeted poor white, disabled, and Abenaki people, white landed Vermonters have benefited from systems and structures that excluded people ‘unlike them’.
For nearly every organization in the land trust movement there is hard, uncomfortable work ahead to grapple with this legacy. At VLT we recognize that this critical work deserves attention—and is not something we will ever finish.
Here are some of the ways we have devoted ourselves to learning and partnership at all levels of the organization:
- Staff have been hosting virtual gatherings monthly to learn about and discuss injustice on the land.
- We are providing financial and technical support to help under-represented people purchase or lease land.
- With the Abenaki tribes in Vermont, we are creating policies that clarify access, gathering, and cultural practices on conserved lands.
- Our next three-year strategic plan (in development now) identifies racial injustice as an external factor that is influencing VLT and calling us to act.
- Our Board of Directors, with the support of an external consultant, has engaged in a six-month process to explore diversity, equity, and inclusion with the goal of diversifying our Board.
This is just a start. Listening and learning has been an important part of this journey and will continue to be in the years to come. For more information, including events and articles focused on justice on the land, please sign up for our e-news.
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