A Black environmental justice leader recently told me that we cannot afford to overlook our own contributions within racist systems. We cannot afford to miss this opportunity for personal transformation and to take responsibility for the challenging work that is uniquely ours to do. His comments resonated in my core and reminded me why I remain hopeful. Unjust systems may not have been changed yet, but I know that the hearts and minds of many people have, including many white Minnesotans, like myself, who have responded inadequately to societal injustices for too long. I see stirrings of meaningful action and societal change.
We are beginning to understand what is required of us as individuals and as an organization to bridge across differences in racial, identity and community power and perspectives to heal division. We also know our responsibility is to share our new understanding and apply it in our daily work. I hope each of you feel a similar sense of responsibility. Please join us in changing hearts, minds and systems.
All environmental issues are issues of equity, race and justice. As a leader, I believe that Environmental Initiative must work to transform those dynamics and lead responsibly toward a world in which all people benefit from a healthy environment and have voice in decisions. I believe that Environmental Initiative has a moral and societal obligation and deep capacity to bridge differences in power and perspectives to bring voices together for healing systemic divisions and disparity. This shift is revealing a deeper, truer and more complete expression of what Environmental Initiative was meant to be.
I am acutely aware that this transformation is unfolding during a global pandemic, economic uncertainty and social unrest. I have been amazed by the adaptation of our board, staff and partners. The pivot to an online celebration of the Awards is one shining example. Our financial supporters have also been remarkably adaptive, with almost all choosing to support us as we held our first online Awards celebration in the 27 years of our organization. Our dedicated sponsors are fighting hard to protect their financial support of us. That said, we’ve already seen some significant losses in cases where companies and individuals have no choice but to make cuts. We are preparing for prolonged uncertainty and economic risk.
Renew your support to continue our transformation. We value supporters like you who serve as Environmental Initiative’s foundation and fuel our work. Reignite your passion in environmental equity by supporting us today. Your gift will double its impact, as our current and past Board of Directors will match all gifts up to $20,000 this year. Make your contribution today.
Mike Harley, CEO