‘Cultural competency’ means an understanding of how institutions and individuals can respond respectfully and effectively to people from diverse cultures, economic statuses, language backgrounds, races, ethnic backgrounds, disabilities, religions, gender identifications, sexual orientations, cognitive differences, veteran statuses and other characteristics in a manner that recognizes, affirms, and values the worth and preserves the dignity of individuals, families, and communities.

The group began by researching the diversity of Marion County and looking for ways to bring training and education to the staff and board, as well as partner organizations. Center for Diversity and the Environment and Vive NW consulted with us about ways to move forward and offered strategies to develop DEI plans for the district.

With input from the board, the group changed direction late in FY 2019-2020 and reached out to our neighboring SWCDs that have been working on DEI issues for years. A particularly productive meeting in the summer of 2020 brought together members from 4 SWCD DEI groups to talk about their approaches. From that conversation, a regional conversation was planned to find how Willamette Valley SWCDs can support each other and collaborate to be more effective and efficient.

The first regional SWCD DEI conversation will be hosted by Marion SWCD on Dec 14, 2020. Members of 8 local SWCDs will come together. Please contact Sarah for more information: [email protected]