The launch of our new strategic plan “Growing into Balance”represents nearly a year’s worth of intense, collaborative work guided by our Board of Directors and leadership team.
When I started as Executive Director, I was tasked with supporting our organization to make the changes necessary for us to be able to show up as powerfully as possible to defend the land and waters in a changing climate.
To determine our new direction, we underwent a rigorous process. First, we reflected on the strengths and weaknesses of our fifty-year past. We were greatly helped in this by Diane Pinch’s meticulous research in her book, Passion and Persistence, detailing our history. We also published a document called “Balancing the Canoe” that acknowledges past harms and addresses our commitment to building better relationships with Indigenous Nations.
We then asked a number of critical questions: What does it mean to be a conservation organization at a time when food and water insecurity loom globally due to drought and rising temperatures? At a time of increasing migrant and refugee flows due to climate change? At a time of mass species collapse? In an era of reconciliation and upholding Indigenous rights? At a time of increasing social polarization?
We realized that in order to answer these questions, we needed to reach out to a broad spectrum of people from diverse backgrounds and work areas.
We did a survey of our membership, held retreats with our board and staff, and reached out to Indigenous leaders, scientists, business owners, government representatives, funders, individuals from immigrant and refugee associations, climate experts, and labour representatives.
We asked what people saw as our strengths and weaknesses. We asked what changes would make us more effective, as well as make us better allies in the interlinked struggles for justice in all its environmental, social and economic dimensions.
One thing that came through loud and clear was around our ability to convene diverse groups and catalyze grassroots involvement. Another was the need to transform into a more humble organization that listens and connects more profoundly with people from diverse backgrounds and communities at the level of shared values, and of hopes and fears for the future. Only through these connections can we build a movement that brings us together as more resilient communities, with greater strength and power to effect the changes we so desperately need.
In short, we needed to redefine what it means for us to be an environmental organization.
Our strategic plan marks perhaps the end of the beginning of that process. We have much more to learn. I hope, if you like what you see in our plan, that you will join us in this journey.
Check out our webinar about Growing Into Balance! I shared what I’m most excited about and answered questions about what you can expect from our team going forward as we put this plan into action.
Artistic design as well as Indigenous concepts and thinking within the plan have been offered up by kQwa’st’not~Charlene George (tSouke Nation) to create an image of balance, a pathway for moving forward and an invitation to transform. kQwa’st’not worked in collaboration with Sierra Club BC as a cultural voice in this strategic plan, guiding the work to transform internally. Many hyjkas to all the hands and minds who helped breathe life into this plan.