A Message from the Director
Our organization is striving to create an inclusive community where everyone feels valued and respected. When people feel comfortable
sharing their unique experiences and opinions, it makes us better. We want Groundswell to be a place where every individual can be their true selves. We want everyone to be able to reach their potential and help us achieve common goals. We want to be innovative and productive so we can protect special places forever and for everyone. We want to create a world filled with green places where communities thrive. We need diversity to help us achieve this. The more we work together and value difference, the closer we get to living in a truly inclusive community. To achieve our goals, we need every employee and partner to understand what we are trying to achieve. We need everyone to work together and be open to change. I encourage you to get involved.
-Angela West Blank
Executive Director, Groundswell Conservancy
Why This Matters
We are a land protection organization. Our purpose is to protect special places forever. We want everyone to live in a world filled with green places where all communities thrive. Our staff, volunteers and board members believe all people should have equal access to land and nature. We believe that land is key to our physical, emotional, and spiritual wellness.
Most of our work is focused in Dane County and Southern Wisconsin. The communities we serve include Black, Indigenous, persons of color, White, male, female, nonbinary, LGBTQIA+, persons with disabilities, the young, the old, etc. To be effective, our work must benefit and respond to all of these groups.
We challenge ourselves to become more equitable and inclusive. We will create a work environment that responds to diverse people and their needs. Our staff, volunteers, and board will strive to represent the communities we serve. We will work to remove barriers to equitable access to land and nature. We will stand against racism and injustice. We will share power with diverse racial, cultural, and economic groups. The work won’t be easy. It will take awareness, deliberate action, partnership and persistence.
Groundswell has been in the conservation field for decades now. We know that it can take years to protect farmland, wetlands, cherished lands, and culturally important places. We’re good at conservation because we’ve figured out when to push and when to be patient. This new work – in diversity, equity, and inclusion – will be an ongoing journey. We invite you to join us.
We protect special places forever. We want everyone to live in a world filled with green places where communities thrive. We believe that land is essential for all people’s physical, emotional, and spiritual wellness. If we don’t protect undeveloped land now, it may be lost forever.
- Conservation. We are champions for conservation and know how to get tangible results.
- Connectedness. We believe we are all connected to the land and each other.
- Commitment. We have the tenacity to persevere for the long-run.
- Collaboration. We respect and partner with landowners, people and groups who care about special places.
- Community. We seek to remove barriers that prevent all people from enjoying the benefits of land, especially those communities historically disenfranchised from land.
Goals and Strategies
In February 2022, Groundswell’s Board of Directors revised its 2020-2024 Strategic Plan. Our main goals were: 1) to commit to environmental justice and, 2) to become an antiracist organization. At the same time, we created a new standing committee: the Community Committee. The goals of the new committee are to review, develop, and approve work plans for Groundswell’s environmental justice efforts. Groundswell staff are now making work decisions that are more inclusive and responsive to the communities we serve. Messaging is changing – both the message and the ways we communicate. We are reviewing how we identify new board and staff to increase diversity. We are asking ourselves daily the questions found in our “equity lens”:
- Who is burdened by this work/project?
- Who is benefited by this work/project?
- What voices are at the table?
- What voices are missing?
- Does our evaluation process invite and encourage dissenting viewpoints?
- Is the project, program, or practice aligned with our values?
Workforce Race and Ethnicity
Our goal is to build practices that attract and retain employees, partners, and board members who represent the communities we serve. What do those communities look like? We’ve included 2020 race and ethnicity demographics of Dane County* below, as a starting point.
78.7% Non-Hispanic White
6.49% Hispanic (Latina/o)
4.73% Black or African American
3.42% Two or more races
Another interesting fact: The median age in Dane County, as of 2020, was 35.2 years.
Moving Beyond Compliance
In this changing world, creating a more inclusive and diverse workplace isn’t just the smart thing to do. It’s the right thing to do. To attract and retain a diverse workforce, we need to create a workplace that makes people feel they belong. In this way, people will feel connected and engaged. They will be more likely to join and stay with our organization.
We take our commitment to this work seriously. Instead of focusing on our finances, we’ve chosen to put a spotlight on creating an equitable and inclusive organization. To achieve this, we’re setting strategic goals and principles and tracking our progress along the way. We’re also being transparent about where we currently are and where we aim to be.
The following individuals have dedicated much time to Groundswell’s work in environmental justice, diversity, equity, and inclusion and to their own education. We are grateful for their contributions. (Listed in alpha order by first name)
Angela West Blank
Call To Action
Join us on this journey! If you are able to offer time, expertise, funding or ideas, please reach out to Angela West Blank, Groundswell Conservancy’s Executive Director. We’d love to hear from you.
You can reach Angela at 608-258-9797 or firstname.lastname@example.org