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Slowing Down for Equity: Stephanie and Beverly’s Sustainability Stories

Posted: 4:41PM August 2nd, 2016 | Comments

Meet Stephanie and Beverly. Both women underwent transformative journeys in the Edgewood Sustainability Leadership Program, and both women inspired impactful change by partnering with Sustain Dane.

Last summer, Stephanie firmly identified as an environmentalist. She cared about social justice issues, but she often told herself, “I just can’t do it all.” Faced with more and more evidence of racial disparity and violence, Stephanie realized she needed to do more.

To do more, Stephanie had to slow down and turn inward. Through deep listening, dialogue, and reflection with her Edgewood cohort, Stephanie worked to become more cross-culturally literate and humble. She found that one of the obstacles to defeat racism is to discover, acknowledge and mitigate conscious and unconscious bias. She embraced her vulnerability, arriving at a strong realization:  “By bridging the environmental and social justice movements, we all come out stronger.”

Beverly grew up proud of her heritage, hearing stories of her African ancestors who were resilient, resourceful, and strong. But when she began her college career, Beverly faced a different narrative of her heritage: marginalized, low-income, at risk, and underserved. She saw that this language about communities of color creates biases and builds walls, resulting in social justice work that just doesn’t work. Beverly aimed to reshape the conversation around equity to one that builds trust and fosters authentic relationships.

Sustain Dane asked Stephanie and Beverly to design and lead a workshop for the Eco Equity Group, a coalition of environmental organizations that unite around equity. With Sustain Dane, Stephanie and Beverly had the opportunity to turn their ideas into action. They shared their stories with 40 environmental groups and 90 people, teaching environmentalists that “equity work is the work of vulnerability.”

“Yes, climate change requires urgent action, but by slowing down to broaden our horizon of concern to encompass social justice concerns, we will build the relationships we need to be more effective in the environmental work we do,” they taught.

Through their partnership with Sustain Dane, Stephanie and Beverly made a real impact. Stephanie inspired others to launch their own journeys -- “I am learning how to be the change and to lead the change that I envision, activating my privilege for the greater good.”

Beverly, too, felt transformed by these dialogues of vulnerability. “I experienced deep emotional healing,” she reflects, “due to the feeling that I was speaking for my ancestors, who fought, died and hoped that one day I would have these opportunities in my life. I really felt that I was heard, that my ancestors’ voices were heard.”

We’re celebrating Sustain Dane success stories like this one all week long for our Week of Wins. Sustain Dane’s programs and partnerships like the Eco Equity Group aim to strengthen, inspire, and support sustainability champions like Stephanie and Beverly. Share your story with #SDWeekOfWins.

Help us create more success storiesChip in to support programs that create real impacts – real wins. Every dollar of your Week of Wins donation will be matched, and you will automatically be entered to win the WOW daily raffle. Sustainability – be a part of it.

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