It’s been three months since we first posted here with a call for diversity, equity and inclusion in the Master Gardener program. Here is an update and what we’ve being doing since then.
We are approaching the work in three ways:
- Ourselves: our own work. Looking at our own stories and history including the history of racism in Oregon and the founding stories of land grant institutions. We are looking deep into our field of work including colonization even in the naming of plants. We are learning to acknowledge this has been happening for years and before our time. This work improves our critical consciousness so we’re aware of inequities.
- How and who Master Gardeners serve in the community: We’re asking questions like how do we as Master Gardeners serve our communities and neighbors? How far are we reaching into our communities, and who are we missing? Who needs gardening advice, support and education? What do we know and not know?
- Systemic within the Master Gardener program: What does it mean to be a Master Gardener and who is the training program designed for? What are the barriers to the program and how can we remove them?
To this end:
- We’ve convened a working group of Master Gardener coordinators from different parts of the state to participate in and lead this work;
- I’ve had a series of conversations about our work with coordinators across the state in every county where there’s an active Master Gardener program, as well as with coordinators and program leaders in California and Minnesota;
- 25+ Master Gardener coordinators recently participated in a 3–hour training on equitable leadership;
- We are examining and planning ways to include diversity, equity and inclusion in training for all Master Gardener volunteers;
- Enacting a series of feedback surveys for Master Gardener volunteers to ensure voices are heard. This includes surveys for feedback on our program’s priorities and values, and upcoming trainings for 2021.
“So with all of this we’ll be done, right?” I think about the best answer for this is in a gardening analogy. A few years back my partner asked me, clearly exhausted, “Aren’t we done with the garden yet?” As I stood there with eyes wide open, I pondered how I was going to break it to her. As gardeners we all know that a garden is never done. It’s an ongoing journey of discovery, setbacks, and amazing results. And a lot of soil building. And so it is with doing the work of diversity, equity and inclusion. We’re in it for the long haul.
Recent podcasts you might enjoy listening to:
Botany, Geography, History & Power: at the Heart of the Garden, Jamaica Kincaid on Cultivating Place
Robin Wall Kimmerer, The Intelligence of Plants (original airdate of 2016 but just as great today as it was then) on On Being with Krista Tippett
How Running’s White Origins Led to the Dangers of ‘Running While Black’ (Yes, this is about running, but there are similar things to think about with gardening, and includes a connection to Oregon) on Code Switch