We are in the midst of a watershed moment. In a world where we are all connected, no matter how distant we may be – the effects of each of our actions can be felt downstream. For many, the outdoors has provided places of respite and safety throughout the pandemic. Yet, as we’ve seen through recent events, this hasn’t been true.

For CRA, this work is a work-in-progress. In support of racial equity nationwide, we’d like to express our commitment to learning and listening, having uncomfortable conversations, and incorporating actions that celebrate diversity and improve the lives of Black Americans and people of color in our work.

For three years and counting, our Program Director, Kira Davis, has been representing CRA and working with the Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition’s Equity Advisory and Action Committee, which promotes just and equitable policies and federal investments that recognize the specific barriers that people of color and Black people face in benefiting from clean, safe and affordable water and access to nature. Recently, her team put together a proposal opportunity for frontline workers affected by COVID-19 and is looking into whether the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative is providing equitable results to the region’s demographics.

We want to do more. We need to do more to improve racial equity within the communities we serve. As an organization, we acknowledge the importance of the Black Lives Matter movement and offer our support to groups that are leading the fight against discrimination and inequality – and we are committed to prioritizing diversity, equity, and inclusion in our own work.
Healing Our Waters recently shared a list of partners on the frontlines of advancing social justice in communities across the Great Lakes. We’d like to take this opportunity to encourage our network to get to know and support these organizations that are leading the way:

Flint Development Center: The center in Flint, Mich., provides facilities where the residents of Flint and Genesee County can safely engage in recreational, social, educational, cultural, community service, civic, and governmental activities.

Green Leadership Trust: Green Leadership Trust works to build the environmental movement’s power by diversifying its leadership through the promotion of best practices and other resources and by driving the leadership pipeline.

We the People of Detroit: We the People of Detroit is dedicated to community coalition building and to the provision of resources that inform, train, and mobilize the citizens of Detroit and beyond to improve their quality of life.

Milwaukee Water Commons: Milwaukee Water Commons is a cross-city network that fosters connection, collaboration, and broad community leadership on behalf of our common waters. The organization promotes the stewardship of, equitable access to, and shared decision-making for our common waters.

Junction Coalition: The Coalition in Toledo, Ohio, provides a viable voice to neighbors to cultivate healthy relationships throughout the community. The Junction Coalition seeks to promote four fundamental pillars of environmental, economic, social justice, and peace education with local, state, and federal government to build a better quality of life for community members and for business owners who benefit the Junction community.

Recognizing that conservation work is not as diverse as it should be and words should be following with action, we are committed to fostering relationships with organizations that promote social and environmental justice, diversifying representation within our organization, being mindful of how our decisions impact underrepresented groups, and prioritizing activities that help to make northern Michigan’s streams, lakes, and forests safe and welcoming places for all.