Pioneering Governor Tom McCall founded SOLVE in 1969 with a vision of community-focused environmental stewardship. SOLVE is a community-building organization that is aimed at bringing the citizens of our state together in volunteerism. SOLVE serves as a coalition builder, developing relationships among many different groups, individuals, and organizations in pursuit of a common goal – protect and preserve the places that make up our uniquely beautiful home state. From Portland to Bend, from Astoria to Lakeview, and all of the urban, rural and natural spaces in between, Oregon’s citizens are as diverse as our landscapes. We believe that our mission to bring Oregonians together to improve our environment and build a legacy of stewardship is inclusive of ALL Oregonians, regardless of age, gender, race, religion, sexual orientation or socio economic background.
Diversity continues to be underrepresented in environmental engagement, nationally as well as in Oregon. A National Park Service study released in 2011 found that, although minorities make up 37 percent of the nation’s population, they represent just 22 percent of National Park visitors. A collective report on The State of Diversity in Environmental Organizations found that “Despite increasing racial diversity in the United States, the racial composition in environmental organizations and agencies has not broken the 12% to 16% ‘green ceiling’ that has been in place for decades.” In Oregon, we also see these disparities play out in minorities’ access to and engagement in environmental recreation. At SOLVE, we are committed to changing this trend.
SOLVE believes that, in order to preserve, protect, and strengthen Oregon’s environment and its community, it is critical that our work be inclusive of all diversities that make up that community. We believe that, just as fostering a thriving biodiversity is critical to ecological functioning of the habitats we seek to protect, inclusion of the demographic and geographic diversity of our citizenship is critical to the strength and healthy functioning of our entire state.
As such, SOLVE seeks to actively create a space that is safe, welcoming, inclusive and affirming for people of all diversities to engage in environmental volunteerism. This requires meaningful outreach to and engagement with a wide range of individuals, groups and organizations. SOLVE is committed to diversity and inclusion of all demographics in order to further our mission and to effectively serve the state of Oregon.
Recognizing that impacting a national trend is no simple task, SOLVE is committed to the growth and expansion of an ever-evolving process to ensure equity, diversity and inclusion in Oregon. Some of our current efforts include:
- Post open positions to diverse job sites for recruitment when hiring employees in order to cast a wide net and support the diversification of our staff.
- Partner with culturally-specific organizations in order to better understand the needs of minority populations.
- Research cultural events across the state and get involved in them in order to meet and engage diverse populations rather than expecting people to seek us out.
- Build relationships with geographically diverse community leaders in order to introduce SOLVE’s mission and to determine community needs.
- Partner with other organizations that are taking action to reverse disparities among demographic lines in order to share best practices and support common connections.
- Conduct target outreach and engagement with under-served school classrooms in order to stop the cycle of disparate environmental access from a young age.
- Create and involve our organization in specific days of service, such as Women in Science Day and Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, in order to engage and honor diverse populations.
In this effort, SOLVE currently works with various universities, colleges, high schools, middle schools and elementary schools, alternative schools and SUN schools across Oregon, as well as the following partners:
4-H Youth Development Program
Boys & Girls Clubs
Boy Scouts & Girl Scouts
Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization
Metropolitan Family Services
Oregon Child Development Coalition
Rural Development Initiatives
Urban League of Portland
World Affairs Council