The hub for environmental education professional development

EE and Community Weaving

Hi Lisa- Thanks for your blog post today on community weaving and for being available to answer eePro group member questions (from July 10-July 17, 2017) and sharing your observations and success stories from CAEE's Diversity and Inclusion Initiative! Your website is so robust with so many tools and references to help our inclusion and equity efforts!...thank you so much for sharing!

Just out of curiosity, what was the impetus for CAEE to undertake a diversity and inclusion initiative, and are there any bench marks or goals that your organization is attempting to achieve?

Thank you for the opportunity to share our work and engage in the larger discussion around diversity and inclusiveness! As I'm sure is the case with other organizations, the Colorado Alliance for Environmental Education has recognized over the past several years that we aren't representative of our state's changing demographics and have heard similar concerns from our members. CAEE's vision is that all Coloradans are environmentally literate and so in order to do that, we need to be much more intentional about reaching new groups and audiences. We have some pretty big goals when it comes to diversity in EE in Colorado including (1) Increasing the awareness of the value of diversity and inclusiveness in the environmental education field, (2) Increasing inclusiveness skills among environmental educators, (3) Increasing the diversity of environmental educators, and (4) Increasing the diversity of the audiences being served by environmental education. The Community Weaving Project I wrote about is just one step towards goals one and two above, to help share best practices and ideas for reaching new audiences and establishing successful partnerships with community groups.

Hey DEI eePro group members!...please take advantage of Lisa's community weaving expertise this week and ask her any questions you might have on this discussion board to help your equity and inclusion efforts!

Lisa - Do you have any partnership success stories or challenges that resulted from your community weaving workshop which our group might be able to learn from?

We think of our project as a piece of a much larger and longer conversation around increasing the relevancy of EE globally by looking at solutions to environmental problems through a community and social lens. Our project shares unique examples of how community weaving is being done successfully in Colorado and uses promising practices from those stories to help increase the skills and tools of audiences across the state and beyond to begin building stronger bridges between EE and community needs.

On an individual level, many of us were able to further explore our own bias and privilege, increase our awareness of the potential of partnerships, think of collaboration in new and deeper ways, and put that thinking into practice through the project.

Some of the challenges that we face in continuing this work and for others starting similar work is that new relationships take a lot of time to build and grow and so change can be slow and at times it can be difficult to give these relationships the time they need to be successful. For others engaged in similar work, we would emphasize the importance of finding those key community connectors to involve as leaders in the project. We also would suggest making sure that discussions with communities are inclusive, including language that is relevant to all parties.

We are committed to looking at all work CAEE does through a diversity and inclusiveness lens. A primary focus of our upcoming West Slope Summit will be on community engagement and we are looking forward to becoming trainers in NAAEE’s newly released Community Engagement: Guidelines for Excellence so that we can share this resource with other organizations in Colorado.

Thanks for your dedicated efforts, Lisa!...and for sharing how CAEE is embracing equity and inclusion at the organizational level. For members further interested in CAEE and tapping into Lisa's expertise, she can be reached via the CAEE website. And as Lisa says, look out for the upcoming Community Engagement: Guidelines for Excellence training opportunities!