Accountability in Action
The recent civil distress is an uprising long in the making. While these protests erupted as a response to the most recently visible murders of Black people at the hands of the police, the protests are shedding light on the many less visible systems that made those murders possible including police unions, city budgets, gentrification, and the root of it all, settler colonial white supremacy. Our hearts are blazing and fortified by the outpouring of support and action gathering around the world. We condemn this systemic violence against Black people. We condemn the societal role of police and anticipate the reform of investing in community resources.
While we condemn systemic racism and violence upheld by white supremacy, Signal Fire also recognizes that white supremacy shows up in our own work. Signal Fire was built at the intersection of three worlds rooted in Indigenous paradigms, which have been co-opted by white supremacy: outdoor recreation, education, and art. We recognize that we have historically, whether intentionally or unintentionally, reinforced white supremacist systems that exclude Black bodies from safe wilderness programming. Signal Fire has been taking stock of our own less visible systems in order to extricate white supremacy from all that we do, and we understand that there is much work to be done.
Signal Fire has taken significant steps toward building access into every level of our organization including:
–Our operating budget is supported ⅓ by individual donors, ⅓ by foundations, and ⅓ by programming income to ensure that no single stakeholding group can leverage our decision making.
–We designed the Rural and Tribal Community Coordinator position located in Chiloquin, in order to deepen our relationships across the Klamath Basin and co-create year-round programming in the communities we build coalitions with.
–Signal Fire was founded by two white, cisgendered, able-bodied people. In the decade since our beginning, the organization has evolved and grown by the care and experiences of diverse leadership. Our Field Coordinator position was vacated by one of the original founders with the intention that this growth continues.
We have identified and are currently addressing the following:
–Identifying our equity lens and ensuring that is the foundation on which we build the rest of our organization, beginning with and reflected in our 2020–2024 strategic plan, job descriptions, programming development, and community expectations.
–Developing authentic community relationships with Black and Black-led organizations.
–Reevaluating our on-the-trail menu to better accommodate and comfort residents of all backgrounds sharing our communal meals.
–Updating our diversity, equity, and inclusion training for our Guide Collective to facilitate safer spaces in the backcountry.
On Signal Fire trips, we strive to create experiences that push the boundaries of comfort in order to cultivate deep communal vulnerability and growth; this includes the physical effort of hiking and camping as well as the effort of confronting our individual and systematic role in settler colonial regimes. Signal Fire as an organization is calling ourselves to vulnerability by sharing this work with you, taking on the work internally, and being accountable for both our shortcomings and our goals. The serious deficit of Black leadership and investment in Black communities by our organization cannot be understated. The stakes are undeniably high. This moment is an opportunity to exemplify accountability and is informing our practices and partnerships. We look forward to this next chapter, arm in arm, with you.
Aviva, Eden, Ka’ila