I hope you are safe and are staying healthy.
Over the past few months, we have collectively faced extraordinary tragedy; the past couple weeks have taken that to a whole other level and illuminated the painful continuation of systemic racial injustice in this country. We grieve the losses of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and the countless others who have gone before them. We acknowledge the pain that is being felt and stand against those who perpetuate these systems and cycles.
At the LA Conservation Corps, we strive daily to stand firmly in opposition to racism, bigotry, hatred and inequality in all of its forms—visible and not visible. We stand with all those who are living with and fighting against systemic racism every day. We stand against injustice and inequality every day in the work we do at the Corps. We commit to putting young people of color, our Corpsmembers, First…and we commit to working hand-in-hand with them to access options and opportunities, a road to a High School Diploma and a Driver’s License, technical and soft skills that fill their life “toolbox” and resources and support to guide them in their lives both at and after the Corps. We know that young people of color face an exponentially higher rate of unemployment and discrimination and inequity in our legal systems. That’s why we want to create meaningful jobs for them and legal support and services to every Corpsmember. We know that nature heals. That’s why our work experience and job training is rooted in cleaning and greening our communities; as our Corpsmembers improve the environment and combat climate change, their sense of purpose in giving back and making positive change grows.
With deep respect and admiration, we have watched everyone on our team – Corpsmembers and staff – respond to the call to serve these past few months. Whether they are planting trees, cleaning streets, clearing fire fuel, distributing food or supporting those who are on the ground/in the field providing essential services, their actions have brought healing, connection and compassion to so many AND to our communities and the environment. They have shown up fully in the most challenging of times.
We are making space for Corpsmembers and staff to share their fears, grief and hopes with all of us, and as the Corps’ leader, I’m challenging myself and my team to be better and do better. I’m listening and educating myself. Today, I’m reaching out in deep appreciation to all of you in acknowledgment of the power of community, and the truth that none of us can create change alone.
We’re choosing to keep moving ahead in the pursuit of the Corps’ values: Corpsmembers First, Creativity & Innovation, Collaboration, Growth & Development and Integrity & Transparency. With those values in mind, we’re committed to not being silent, standing in solidarity with the Black community and all people of color to make real change and holding each other accountable to this critical aspect of our work.
I look forward to taking this journey with all of you, the Friends of the Corps.
In humility, service & gratitude,
Chief Executive Officer
LA Conservation Corps