Diversifying Conservation Through Education and Dialogue
Marcelo Bonta has a vision. He sees children from all walks of life swimming and enjoying our nation’s rivers, drinking clean water, breathing clean air, enjoying nature and becoming responsible stewards of the land. To make his vision a reality, Marcelo believes that conservation needs to be more than just a movement: it needs to become engrained in every person, policy, and activity we do.
To achieve these ambitious goals, Marcelo believes the environmental movement needs to be fundamentally more inclusive. Toward that end, he founded the Center for Diversity & the Environment and the Young Environmental Professionals of Color, initiatives that are sparking a racially and ethnically diverse environmental movement that is relevant for all.
As part of Marcelo's Toyota TogetherGreen Conservation Fellowship, he focused on the Diversifying the Environmental Movement Forum, a dialogue series hosted, organized and promoted by the Center for Diversity and the Environment and the Young Environmental Professionals of Color. The Forum’s purpose was to convene communities of color, conservationists and other interested parties from traditional and non-traditional environmental fields in the Portland Metro region, so that, together, they could discuss and find action-oriented solutions to the problems that caused and perpetuated a racial and cultural divide in the environmental movement. Discussions led by guest speakers and trainers from the Portland community and beyond focused on topics such as partnerships and collaborations, outreach, cultural competency, power and privilege, the educational pipeline, diversity training and others that opened the door for new public engagement on pressing conservation issues.
Marcelo hoped the Forum would create a ripple effect of social and cultural change within the environmental movement through educating participants, pushing them to further their learning, and encouraging personal, organizational, and movement-wide change. He believed an open community dialogue was an appropriate first step to unify and build a movement that would be more effective in protecting habitat and water resources, and addressing climate concerns into the future.