What a year 2020 has been! We have all been impacted in one way or another. At Watershed Alliance we have had our share of challenges and wins this year. I am happy to say that despite the challenges, we are still here doing the excellent work we do in our community to improve our environment.
As we enter the Winter Solstice, a time of reflection and gratitude, I want to share some of the positives we saw this year as an organization.
We have put a lot of focus on our internal Diversity Equity and Inclusion practices over the past couple years through staff training and learning. This year, we put some of what we learned into action. We start every event with a Land Acknowledgement to honor the Native Peoples and their land, we made holiday policy changes that are more inclusive, and we educate our staff and board on systemic racism by having an open dialogue and sharing resources with each other. Program Coordinator Celina Stilphen has highlighted environmentalists and organizations from BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, people of color) communities on social media posts. We are dedicated to looking at all of our work and programs through an equity lens. We acknowledge that this is a lifelong process and will continue to do the work we need to do. Personally, I have become a member of LULAC of SW WA and Vancouver NAACP and am excited by the future partnerships we will have with these two groups.
The Backyard Habitat Certification program resumed again after our Program Coordinator, Bethany Wray, returned from maternity leave. Due to COVID-19 there was a pause, but Bethany was able to start back up to normal speed in July and has continued helping people create habitat friendly yards since then.
We were awarded a grant from the Washington State Department of Ecology! This was a huge win and a first for our organization. Program Coordinator, Tom Dwyer wrote the grant and is managing the project. This project is restoring roughly-10 acres of creekside in Battle Ground near Day Break. Thousands of native plants will be planted along the creek, which will greatly improve the water quality of Manley Creek and the East Fork of the Lewis River.
Last highlight of the year is our volunteer plantings. After a 7-month break from volunteer events because of COVID-19, we resumed our planting events in October with Make A Difference Day. Getting to spend time outside with volunteers was an amazing way to end this year. There were moments of planting when things almost felt normal. The sun was shining for every event, people were smiling, and we were working together as a community all while following COVID-19 guidelines to ensure safety for everyone. I could not help but feel the significance of planting young plants in the ground. Volunteers dug into the soil to plant and bring new life to the land. It filled my heart and I believe it filled others’ as well. With all the loss this year, I felt like there was a little bit of healing happening by planting. I could see this in the smiles radiating from everyone’s faces as they planted. We all needed it!
How can you get involved and help our natural spaces?
- Volunteer! We will have future COVID-safe planting events starting in January for MLK Day. Follow our social media or sign up for our e-newsletter to stay up to date on events.
In good health,
- Support our work through donations. We rely heavily on community financial support to do the work we do. Especially in times of COVID-19 we have seen reductions in our normal contracts and are reaching out to our community to ask for donations. Please consider giving a reoccurring monthly gift. Click here to donate.