Equity and Diversity at FINE: Update

Peter Allison, Executive Director

As 2021 draws to a close, we at FINE are reflecting on the steps we have taken to lean into diversity, equity, and inclusion at our organization - and how much more work lies ahead. We share the following with you in our efforts to be transparent and accountable.

While FINE had begun our journey to examine our own culture with the lens of diversity, racial equity, and inclusion early in our formation, 2020 pushed us to both pause, and focus more clearly.  Like many organizations, we wrote a letter to our network in June, and with our advisory council, we formalized our commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion in September.

We also took action. We deferred invitations to five highly qualified people who identified as white to join our Network Advisory Council, and started working to actively cultivate more and stronger relationships with leaders of BIPOC communities who would join the NAC candidates. We hope that our current efforts to engage new advisors and staff for all our programs make that intention clear. 

We joined with partner groups Mass Farm to School and Health Care Without Harm, to work with consultants on an Advancing Racial Equity initiative. The ARE effort involved all staff in a six month long intensive series of meetings, and continues on a regular basis today with revolving leadership from staff of the three organizations. And all of us spent more time learning, reflecting, and reaching out to connect with individuals and organizations from BIPOC communities to find greater opportunities for joining forces. We have sponsored and attended events organized by BIPOC lead organizations. As in past years, we have joined the Racial Equity Challenge as an organization, as well as individuals, and promoted it to our partners. 

As we designed the fourth biennial Northeast Farm to Institution Summit, we took a holistic approach to racial equity, guided by Decentering Whiteness and Creating Inclusive and Equitable Conferences. This approach manifested in the composition of the summit steering committee, the selection of speakers and sessions, providing space for BIPOC participants to convene, and offering a sliding scale registration system that encouraged the option to select free registration for anyone who identifies as Black, Indigenous, or as a person of color, as part of our efforts to offer reparations for systems of historic and current racism. We also provided guidance for speakers on incorporating Justice & Equity into their sessions, and identified sessions in the agenda with the Equity and Justice tag. 

And we have a long way to go. By no means do we hold ourselves up as a model - but we want to be transparent about how we are going about our journey, and invite comments and critiques, as well as allies to join us.