Presentation Title

Whose land is our land? Race, place, and equity in western Multnomah County

Start Date

2-3-2020 1:40 PM

End Date

2-3-2020 1:50 PM

Abstract

West Multnomah Soil & Water Conservation District has resolved to pursue diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) as integral parts of our conservation mission. We face the challenge of doing so in a territory that has inherited roughly two centuries of legal, institutional, and economic factors that have inequitably distributed land and natural resources. By synthesizing existing historical scholarship in a literature review focused on western Multnomah County, we identified how barriers to property ownership for Native Americans, Asian Americans, Black Oregonians and other people of color were created and reinforced through the 19th and 20th centuries. These systemic barriers have consistently made this region’s land and natural resources available to white communities while withholding them from communities of color, a pattern of inequity which persists today; the color of one’s skin remains a strong predictor of whether one owns land in our district and of the environmental resources and hazards one shares a neighborhood with. In examining our own policies and activities, we found that the District’s work has reflected and reproduced these patterns of racial segregation. By focusing our efforts on privately owned larger properties and the people who own them, we have been investing in and led by predominantly white communities while missing opportunities, needs, and voices present in historically diverse neighborhoods. These findings will inform the District’s strategy as we build DEI into our next long-range business plan, and we hope that they may foster critical inquiries around race, land, and equity in our broader professional community.

Subjects

Economics, Environmental policy, Environmental social sciences

Persistent Identifier

https://archives.pdx.edu/ds/psu/33840

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Mar 2nd, 1:40 PM Mar 2nd, 1:50 PM

Whose land is our land? Race, place, and equity in western Multnomah County

West Multnomah Soil & Water Conservation District has resolved to pursue diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) as integral parts of our conservation mission. We face the challenge of doing so in a territory that has inherited roughly two centuries of legal, institutional, and economic factors that have inequitably distributed land and natural resources. By synthesizing existing historical scholarship in a literature review focused on western Multnomah County, we identified how barriers to property ownership for Native Americans, Asian Americans, Black Oregonians and other people of color were created and reinforced through the 19th and 20th centuries. These systemic barriers have consistently made this region’s land and natural resources available to white communities while withholding them from communities of color, a pattern of inequity which persists today; the color of one’s skin remains a strong predictor of whether one owns land in our district and of the environmental resources and hazards one shares a neighborhood with. In examining our own policies and activities, we found that the District’s work has reflected and reproduced these patterns of racial segregation. By focusing our efforts on privately owned larger properties and the people who own them, we have been investing in and led by predominantly white communities while missing opportunities, needs, and voices present in historically diverse neighborhoods. These findings will inform the District’s strategy as we build DEI into our next long-range business plan, and we hope that they may foster critical inquiries around race, land, and equity in our broader professional community.