The Avarna Group
Our Why: The Avarna Group believes in a more socially and environmentally just world.
Our How: Our philosophy is rooted in action; we are about making change instead of just talking about it.
- We lead with equity and inclusion. Diversity is an outcome; equity and inclusion get us there.
- Equity isn’t an add-on. We ensure it is part of the DNA of every organization we support.
- We meet you where you are. We use the framework of unconscious bias to bring everyone into the conversation and build a bridge to addressing deeper topics.
- We don’t start from scratch. We recognize, celebrate, and integrate what you’re already doing well, laying out small wins along the way to avoid fatigue.
- Racial equity work isn’t just for some staff. We build buy-in from leadership and create accountability for DEI within all staff.
- Equity work isn’t just about outreach. We approach DEI holistically, using a framework that encourages you to prioritize both internal and external facing strategies.
- Racial equity work should be approached intersectionally. We utilize an approach that recognizes that sustainable racial equity compels us to examine all identities that experience systemic marginalization.
- We don’t stay in the clouds. We provide all of our workshop participants and organizational clients with tangible takeaways, connecting the dots between racial equity concepts and their day-to-day work with scenarios and examples, while still holding a vision for a more socially and environmentally just world.
- Nothing we do is “plug and play.” We tailor every service to meet your needs.
Our What: We provide insights, resources, and support on equity, inclusion, justice, and diversity to environmental and outdoor organizations through online and in-person workshops, implementation planning, assessments, toolkits, and a free online resource database.
Once organizational change agents grapple with their individual biases, assumptions, and ways that they contribute to racial inequities, they’re faced with the “what next?” question. Our service would be designed to take organizations to the next level beyond individual work to examining and auditing institutional systems with a racial equity lens. Our ideal cohort size would be 30 individuals. We have no limit on the number of organizations represented in the cohort; our limitations are based on number of participants with whom we can meaningfully engage.
Taking Racial Equity to the Next Level
This cohort would include representatives from organizations who are bought in to racial equity, have begun to engage in their own personal equity work (such as workshops on dismantling racism, examining implicit bias, etc.), have an organizational commitment to racial equity, and have the resources to build a holistic plan for racial equity.
This service includes webilogues, workshops, and organization-specific consulting on discrete topics or unique challenges. We recognize it's often hard for organizations to know what they don’t know, and though we want to be intentional about partnering with organizations that have some basic level of understanding of racial equity, there is foundational work that needs to happen before organizations can grapple with tactical pieces of racial equity. We run webilogues for many reasons, including delivering content that doesn’t require in-person engagement, reaching a broader audience who cannot all attend a single workshop, and setting a foundation so that in-person engagements are more productive. We call them “webilogues” because we strive to make them as interactive as we can through an online medium, utilizing polling, discussion, and reflection along the way.
- Webilogue 1: The what and why of racial equity: Words like “equity,” “justice,” and “inclusion” often get bandied about and conflated with no fundamental understanding of what these words mean and entail in the environmental space. We spend the first part of the webilogue going over what these words mean with precision because ambiguity does a disservice to us all. We then shift to the “why.” Organizations are sometimes hard pressed to explain why racial equity is important in furthering their mission beyond “it’s the right thing to do.” To cultivate buy in, it’s crucial for change agents to be fluent in all the reasons why environmental organizations engage in racial equity work. The “why” conversation also sets organizations up for building a precise racial equity statement. Participants will leave with an understanding of what racial equity work entails in the environmental sector and a framework to help them practice their elevator speech on why racial equity work is important.
- Webilogue 2: Building your organizational equity statement: the anchor for your work: Prior to building a holistic plan for racial equity, it’s important for organizations to create an institutional document clearly laying out their role in creating a more equitable environment, the reasons why racial equity is vital to their mission, and the commitments they will make to racial equity. This statement serves as an anchor for all racial equity efforts and holds organizations accountable to their constituents (and the public). This webilogue steps participants through the process of creating a racial equity statement, including a worksheet that allows participants to actually workshop through a statement during the webilogue. Participants will leave with a template and guidelines to create a racial equity statement customized to their own organizations.
- Webilogue 3: How to plan for racial equity: To give all staff an understanding of how to approach planning for institutional equity, we will walk participants through a 4 Quadrant framework that supports organizations in building a holistic plan for racial equity that covers internal and external strategies as well as individual and institutional work. We discuss this framework online at https://theavarnagroup.com/2015/12/09/the-quadrants-of-equity-inclusion-diversity-work/. Participants will leave with a greater understanding as to how to approach racial equity planning.
- Webilogue 4: Effective Community and Stakeholder Engagement: For organizations who rely on engaging communities in conservation-related projects or decisions, we can run a webinar stepping through the process of more effectively engaging communities (and in particular, marginalized communities). The webinar will step through the entire process from identifying who you are and are not engaging, to doing robust homework on the communities you’re trying to engage, to forging relationships and building rapport with communities and their leaders, to planning and facilitating meetings that allow communities to effectively provide input in a culturally relevant manner, to integrating community input.
- Workshop: Shifting your lens from Inclusion to Racial Equity: This workshop takes a deeper look into the systems of oppression that organizations may unwittingly be complicit in perpetuating, and examines ways organizations can begin to shift both the nature of their work and their approaches in service of equity and dismantling these systems. We begin by reviewing differences between inclusion (which is about inviting more people to the table in service of broadening the base in support of an organization's mission) and equity (which is about being willing to change what you do as an environmental organization in service of equity and justice). We go over examples of what inclusive vs. equitable environmentalism, climate resiliency, and urban planning look like, and participants share examples as well. We then use a number of stories to shift paradigms. Participants spend an hour on their own reviewing and discussing various stories that exemplify the myriad connections people and communities have with the environment, climate, and urban spaces. We then debrief the stories and have participants (in small groups) workshop ways they would change their environmental ethos to honor more and different environmental connections. In the second half of this workshop, we dive deeper into how white supremacy manifests in our sector. Just like racism and sexism, white supremacy is an ideology coupled with a set of practices that manifests in our systems. This means we can be complicit in white supremacy while still condemning it. We define white supremacy and then provide examples of ways it manifests in the work of environmental organizations. These include paternalism and saviorism, the reliance on Western structures (such as Western science), exclusion and erasure of indigenous, black, and other history, perfectionism, a sense of urgency, individualism, and the right to comfort. We end the workshop with tools to support change agents in dismantling white supremacy and helping to decolonize the environmental, climate resiliency, and urban planning sectors.
- Optional webilogues (can be facilitated for individual organizations). Even with an organizational commitment and strategic goals for equity, organizations often need “deep dive” support in building out tactics and strategies to support specific work areas.
- Recruitment and hiring toolkit and webinar: In this webinar we step through how to build equity into your recruitment and hiring practices. This will include: A robust toolkit that prompts the team to ask some guiding questions. A free toolkit on just recruitment and hiring is available online at https://theavarnagroup.com/resources/hiring-practice-better-practices/, and a webinar to step through the toolkit and workshopping through one example (such as a job description), as well as providing a sample hiring rubric.
- Internships and Fellowships: In this webinar we step through how to build racial equity into your internship or fellowship programs. This will include: A toolkit that lays out some structural pieces necessary for internship programs that are tailored to attracting people of color or from other marginalized communities; and a webinar geared to supervisors of interns that guides them through ways they can mitigate and navigate their own biases that might impact their interns, as well as actively support interns throughout the program. Participants will leave with tools to be better allies to interns, create inclusive experiences for interns, and have difficult conversations with peers and colleagues (especially in situations where they need to call people in on their behavior).
- Marketing & Communications: We can support marketing and communications in casting a wider net in an authentic manner and building equity into messaging and communications. This can include a robust marketing and communications toolkit that covers everything from accessibility of an organization's marketing materials to language, messaging, imagery, video, design, fonts, and social media. The webinar and toolkit will give participants the tools to audit their organization’s marketing and communications processes.
- Building Equitable Partnerships: In this webinar, we go through basic guidelines for building equitable partnerships. Equitable partnerships are rooted in ensuring relationships are reciprocal (or mutualistic), and not unilateral (or paternalistic and parasitic). The webinar lays out how equity plays in partnerships, how to identify which equity measures to engage in with a partner, and what power structures may be at play. The webinar allows you to build more effective coalitions that amplify the good work of your organization.
- Consulting Services: We can provide organizations in the cohort with up 2 hours of consulting services each.
Service Dates and Locations
- November-December 2018: Webilogues 1-4 (recorded for cohort members who cannot participate in person).
- January 2019: In-person workshop
- February-May 2019: Follow-up webilogues
- May-October 2018: Additional consulting services (2 hours per organization)
Participating individuals should:
- Demonstrate a commitment to racial equity.
- Be able to clearly articulate why racial equity is important to their organization.
- Be in positions where they can effect change, including the approval of a racial equity statement and a racial equity plan.
- Be able to define concepts such as racial equity, racism, justice, and inclusion.
- Demonstrate self-awareness of their own biases, privilege, and ways in which they contribute to racial inequity.
- Be actively working on mitigating their own individual biases and inequitable behaviors.
- Be willing to engage in uncomfortable conversations.
- Be willing to take action in order to implement racial equity strategies.
Participating organizations should:
- Have leadership that has demonstrated a commitment to racial equity.
- Support the personal equity work of staff (such as through workshops on dismantling racism, examining implicit bias, etc.).
- Have formed an equity committee, team, or council consisting of individuals who participate in the program as well as others within the organization across identity and hierarchy.
- Have a racial equity statement or commitment (or be prepared to craft one).
- Have allocated the resources to build a holistic plan for racial equity.
Primary liaison may spend up to 50 hours over the course of seven months not only attending webilogues and workshops and doing pre- and post-work, but working to identify follow-up tactical support their organization may need and scheduling follow up webilogues.
Attendees who are not the liaison will be asked to be present for all webilogues and in-person engagements, and may be asked to participate in consulting calls, depending on their role at the organization. This will most likely amount to 20 hours
Senior managers, mid-level managers responsible for engaging in equity measures.