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Dear Hill Country Neighbors,

What an unbelievable start to 2021.

As warm days and bright sunshine slowly reveal the extent of the damage from last week’s winter storm, our hearts and minds are with all of you who are still struggling with a lack of reliable water or power, balancing childcare and work, and dealing with the cleanup and repairs the storm necessitated. Like many of the difficulties we’ve endured over the last year, this storm left a trail of hardship that is being felt disproportionately by already disadvantaged communities. It is in that vein that I wanted to reach out to share a bit about a theme that will cut across all of HCA’s efforts in 2021 and beyond: inclusion, diversity, and equity as a part of the fabric of our work and our organization.
 
HCA is continually striving to do a better job of delivering on our mission of growing an ever-expanding alliance of passionate people dedicated to preserving the natural resources and communities of the Hill Country. We take pride in our ability to bridge traditional divides, find common interests, and lead efforts toward a shared vision for this amazing place and the people who call it home. 

Group plants a rain garden on a sunny day
Little boy stands at a rodeo with a lasso
Logos of the Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Justice Committee in the Texas Hill Country Conservation Network
The Hill Country Alliance works with numerous partners and communities in both urban and rural settings across the 17 counties of the Hill Country. Part of this work involves convening the organizations listed above in the newly-formed Texas Hill Country Conservation Network's Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Committee.

We cannot succeed in protecting the lands, waters, night skies, and communities of the Hill Country if we are not engaging with the full diversity of the communities we aim to serve. 
 
We recognize there are numerous groups and communities within the Hill Country that we have not historically engaged, and for whom our reach and impact have been limited. We also recognize that there are systems of power that grant access and privilege unequally across lines of race, gender, age, class, language and ability. Ignoring those inequities, the factors that lead to them, and our own shortcomings will prevent us from ever being truly successful. 
 
As a community-centered organization, it is our responsibility to actively seek out connections and partnerships. HCA is committed to equity, diversity, and inclusion-based solutions that promote healthy natural resources and thriving communities for ALL Central Texans. Moving forward, we commit to learning from more diverse partners, evaluating our work against a standard of inclusivity, and leading by example. To this end, HCA has already taken several steps:

  • Convening our nonprofit partners in the Texas Hill Country Conservation Network through a Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Justice Committee. The committee is developing a request for proposals to hire a consultant to help develop a diversity, equity, inclusion and justice strategy.
  • HCA Board adoption of a new anti-discrimination, equity, diversity and inclusion policy, and updating the HCA website to be a source of information about efforts to advance diversity in our own organization and the conservation community more broadly.
  • Contracting a specialist to help ensure that HCA hiring practices are fair and inclusive.    
  • Sharing recent news and resources to improve equity in the outdoors and the broader conservation movement 
  • Developing relationships with new partners across the Hill Country who can help us reach communities that HCA has historically not reached.
  • Planning for a series of roundtables to better understand and serve the diverse needs of the Hill Country.
Listen to this panel from the 2020 Hill Country Leadership Summit that explores why diversity, equity, and inclusion are important for the conservation movement broadly and how organizations can start or continue their journeys to be diverse, equitable, and inclusive.
As always, I and the HCA staff are here to serve you. Our team is growing this year, and as we look forward to convening in person once again, we want to hear from you about how we can reach new audiences, expand our partnerships, and deepen our roots in this region. This work does not reflect a change in our mission and focus—instead, it will allow us to deepen our existing programming and reach. 


We welcome your participation. I hope you'll reach out with ideas, questions, and thoughts about how we can better reflect and meaningfully engage the full diversity of the Hill Country as we address immediate challenges like the acute water and electricity crises that have emerged in the last week, as well as the ongoing long-term challenges our region faces. 

Gratefully,

Katherine Romans
Executive Director, Hill Country Alliance


P.S. If you are looking for resources in light of recent events, we have a directory of Hill Country Food banks, accessible here. For additional ways to give or get support, see this recent article from the Texas Tribune

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Our mailing address is:
PO Box 151675  |  Austin, TX 78715 |

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