HEFN Blog Series on Racial Justice: Let’s Move Like A River, and Flow

November 17, 2020

Dear HEFN community,

I miss you. I miss your laughter, the sparking of mind and heart, your intention always to intertwine healing for the environment with healing of the people. Your understanding since the creation of HEFN that these fates are intertwined and inseparable. Your gurgle and meander across the landscape, together.

And now, here we are, far from one another geographically, yet bound in a moment of several 2020 reckonings. Our hearts are breaking, heavy, and torn with grief. And even so, we remain tender with what is cracking open in this moment of intense fear, and grief, and also, possibility. 

This past summer of violent pain, liberation struggle, and racial reckoning offers us complete opening to move more fully together through mud where our field has been stuck. A solid core of HEFN members are gathering to ensure healing and action space on racial justice – knowing that everything is absolutely at stake. 

May we have the collective resilience and capacity to fully acknowledge that systems of white supremacy, racism, ableism, and sexism; a relentlessly extractive economic system; and the consolidation of corporate power and undue influence – are intertwined and central to what our philanthropic endeavors must aim to address. As we reckon with the destruction of the planet’s abundance, biodiversity, and the thriving of this generation and possibilities for the next, let us pull all the levers possible to ensure that this period will be white supremacy’s last tumultuous, harrowing, greedy, and violent stand.

Given this, as funders and members of HEFN, what is ripe right now, as we continue our journey of learning and action for environmental health and justice together? How can we be trickles and streams, gathering up and feeding into a larger river of a cultural shift toward justice? Several ideas rise for how we might adapt our course together, cultivated by many of you. 

1) Name and visibilize the centrality of the power of racism and systems of white supremacy to the undermining of environmental health and justice, especially in our board rooms. Grapple together well. Support one another to ensure we no longer corroborate invisibility, silence, and harm; bring forward funding recommendations to organizations that share and address this understanding, full stop.

2) Be moveable and teachable, as we navigate these barriers: learn with humility, knowing we have inherited tremendous misinformation and have been wrong/ed. White people, let us help each other move past our fragility, recognize fully our responsibility, and untangle this devastating mess, and HEFN, we invite you to open and resources spaces for healing and connection for BIPOC members, in particular.

3) Make this moment a reckoning on our practice: fund responsively, to repair and make amends, and to strengthen ties and power of organizations led and governed by African American people, Indigenous people and nations, Latinx communities, and people of color. HEFN members are in relationship with these organizations already; deepen and strengthen these relationships and expand our network.

4) Prioritize relationships beyond the funds flowing. Relationships change everything. It's not just money.

5) Align our priorities and practice with a just transition to regenerative economies. Visions and practice of ancestral and new regenerative economies are flourishing. What we pay attention to grows, let us foment the pools of possibility.

6) Appreciate one another relentlessly, in our attempts and our next interactions, our wild successes all. These courageous moves matter, and they matter now. Let us lift one another up personally as bold moves and transformations are undertaken.

7) Bring our whole loving selves into this community of learning and funding the work. The transformation under way and possible requires our minds, yes, but also our hearts, our bodies, and our souls.

If you are wondering where you can begin your journey, HEFN has compiled this list of BIPOC-led and governed organizations and regrantors from our membership and movement partners we work with. This is just a beginning and it is imperfect. Please let us know at the email below if there are other organizations that should be on this list.

Dearest HEFN colleagues, few moments in the recent past have been as transformative, painful and full of opportunity as this one, right here, right now. Let’s flow. We look forward to learning from your reflections, agitations, adaptations in course, as we continue our journey together. Send your feedback and thoughts to the equity and grassroots organizing committee at: aspencer@hefn.org.




Kathryn Gilje is the Executive Director of Ceres Trust, and a member of the HEFN Steering Committee and Advancing Equity and Grassroots Organizing Committee.


From our Blog

Photo by Shane Rounce on Unsplash
Blog posted on July 9, 2020
HEFN is pleased to welcome Leslie Hatfield, GRACE Communications Foundation, and Anuja Mendiratta, Philanthropic + Nonprofit Consulting, to the Steering Committee.

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