Amplifying Community Engagement for the Urban Marine Program at Washington Sea Grant (ToolKit)
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Amplifying Community Engagement for the Urban Marine Program at Washington Sea Grant (ToolKit)

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    Equitable access to resources and decision making is a challenge for the health and wellbeing of many marginalized communities Many Washington communities have experienced disparities in access to marine ecosystems, foods, resources, and opportunities Washington Sea Grant (WSG) seeks to develop an Urban Marine Program in collaboration with urban populations and BIPOC communities to support more equitable access to marine foods and resources. This exploratory opportunity will utilize methods of environmental intersectionali​ty, systems thinking, relationship-​building and place-based community engagement to ensure that we are reaching beyond. WSG will use this toolkit as a guideline for doing equitable engagement and community development. The purpose is to support the UMP to equitably engage, empower, uplift knowledge systems, increase accessibility, and to listen, learn, support, and collaborate. To develop the toolkit we conducted literature reviews and key informant interviews to obtain information of people’s connection to water and what they hope to see emerge from the UMP. We also facilitated workshops to start a dialogue on the intersectionali​ty of water and its application to our everyday lives. The goal of the UMP is to advance collaboration amongst stakeholders and to hear community needs and concerns. This will be done effectively through DEI evaluators who will monitor engagement and community liaisons who will act as advocates for their community. We have integrated the UN Sustainable Development Goals to provide an intersectional​framework to the UMP. We can create target indicators for each goal that align with the work we seek to achieve. The Community Engagement for the Urban Marine Program Toolkit is a comprehensive guide capable of advancing the culture of WSG programs to be equitable and sustainable within BIPOC communities. The purpose of this toolkit is to engage and empower community members of Western Washington in marine conservation, programming, and engagement with WSG. To do conservation work equitably, requires engaging with communities in decision-​making processes. This looks like reaching outward and looking inward to build resilience and relationships from the lens of diversity, equity, and inclusion. Recognizing traditional and local knowledge is also key to equitable community engagement because the communities served by WSG have a plethora of cultural and generational knowledge that transcends Western science and understanding. By recognizing TLK, knowledge holders may gain power and agency, while having their diverse identities be welcomed and appreciated. Furthermore, to achieve WSG’s mission and vision, it is integral to increase accessibility to WA’s shorelines and marine ecosystems for those who may not be, or haven’t historically been, able to experience it. To do this, we must cultivate community partnerships with BIPOC communities, including but not limited to, schools, community leaders and community centers to hear their needs and concerns, and how they want to be a part of WSG. This may require meeting people where they are physically located. Emails and calls are not always substantial enough, nor are they accessible to everyone. Meeting communities where they are looks like meeting with community leaders in an accessible location and learning from and with them how we can provide appropriate programming.
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