For thirty years, I've held a space within the conservation movement for culture change: encouraging its values and challenging its histories, strengthening it by making it more inclusive of different worldviews, making it more about relationships between people and between people and nature. Through on-the-ground projects, workshops, leadership development programs and the synthesis of what we've learned in essays and books, I've played a significant role in these shifts:
The shift from transactions to relationships;
The shifts from science values to social values;
The shift from social values to community values;
The inquiry into who is conservation for? Which people are served and not served;
The shift from diversity to equity and justice.
Each of these shifts have stregthened conservation because each has demanded a deeper and deeper critique of power and privilege. And by better understanding the corrosiveness of how that power has been wielded in the past and today, creating reciprocal openings for reconciliation and progress that include many more and different people.
All of my work is grounded in story and inquiry.
How is our nation evolving demographically, culturally, politically, what does this ask of conservation?
How do different generations define conservation and how does that create both friction and possibility?
Who is visible and less visible to us and how does that affect mission and capacity?
If the ownership of land and the construct of whiteness are the foundation of privilege in America, how must American conservationists wrestle with privilege privately and publicly to be in service to more and different people?
What is the role of story in helping us to see one another? How does our story put up walls or help to take walls down?