A James River For All
Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Justice
Since JRA’s founding in 1976, we’ve seen the power of positive change when people come together for a shared vision. Collectively, we’ve helped the James River transform from one of the most polluted rivers in the country to one of its most improved. We’ve also seen the James evolve from a dividing line in our communities to a positive force that brings us together.
JRA’s vision is to achieve a fully healthy James River supporting thriving communities. But many who call our watershed home have endured discrimination, displacement, and exclusion. Realizing our vision means doing our part to provide clean water and equitable access for all.
It means taking deliberate and sustained action to ensure JRA’s people, programs, and partnerships are inclusive, welcoming, and reflective of the diversity within our communities.
Together, we can work to secure a brighter, more equitable future, so that every member of our community, and our River, can thrive.
Creating a more accessible river and a more equitable river community has been part of our work for decades. However, to make meaningful change, it must be integrated into all of our work. Over the past few years, we’ve done a lot of learning, reflection, and exploration to identify opportunities for improvement. For example:
In 2019, we established a Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Justice (DEIJ) Task Force comprised of JRA board and staff members. Their charge was to discuss issues, identify challenges and opportunities, and develop recommendations for increasing cultural awareness and DEIJ within JRA and its programs.
In 2021, JRA partnered with the Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities (VCIC) to provide six training sessions for staff and board members, which were key for establishing a baseline understanding of DEIJ issues and cultivating a shared vocabulary.
JRA’s DEIJ Task Force continued to work with VCIC throughout 2021 and 2022 to develop a JRA Strategic Equity Plan. This three-year plan incorporated broader input from JRA staff and board members, and it was approved by the board in November 2022.
We’re committed to embedding the principles of DEIJ in all parts of our work and our watershed. We acknowledge this takes time, intention, and effort. It requires truly listening to others, identifying shared goals, and charting a strategic course through collective action. People who have been historically marginalized in the James River Watershed have suffered injustices for far too long. At JRA, we recognize that at times our actions and inaction have contributed to the problem, and now we are stepping up to be part of the solution.
We pledge to act to make the James a river for all.
We pledge to deliver on the priorities created in our JRA Strategic Equity Plan. We’ll use the next three years executing this plan to set the stage for continuous learning, increased understanding, and further commitment to growth as a way to inform further development and action.
Through this commitment, we hope to not only serve as the voice of the James River, but also serve every voice within the James River Watershed.