We are committed to centering the voices and needs of people of color, and specifically Black people, in our work around land access, Ownership, livelihood through the land, and land conservation.
Partnering with and Sponsoring Black-led Organizations:
Harambee: We partnered on the protection of the Pine Street African Burial Ground and collaborated with Harambee and the Kingston YMCA Farm Project to develop a youth-led design process for the site. We have participated in and co-sponsored events with Harambee, including Youth in the Spotlight: Awakening Paths, Black History Month Kingston, The Burning of Kingston, Juneteenth, and Kingston’s First Annual African American Festival.
My Kingston Kids: We co-sponsored and participated in events like the 2018 Halloween Fest at Seed Song Farm and 2019 Kids Fest: Land of Magic.
Soul Fire Farm: In 2018, staff and board members attended a Soul Fire Farm work day. This year we co-sponsored Farming While Black with Leah Penniman, an event presented by the A. J. Williams-Myers African Roots Center & Library. Leah Penniman is the co-director and farm manager of Soul Fire Farm, and author of the book Farming While Black.
Northeast Farmers of Color Land Trust: We invited NEFOC to be a panelist for our 2019 event Land in Black Hands. We have also collaborated with NEFOC on the just transition process for the African Burial Ground.
Brown Bike Girl: We co-sponsored speaker Courtney William’s at the 2020 Women’s Bike Fest in Kingston in collaboration with Scenic Hudson and other local organizations.
Transferring the African Burial Ground to its Long Term Stewards
Last year, we exercised the unique role of a land trust of permanently protecting the Pine Street African Burial Ground. As per our original intentions, this year the ownership of this significant cultural site will be transferred to Harambee. This land will be protected, in perpetuity, through a conservation easement that ensures it will always be preserved as a sacred historic memorial space under the stewardship of the African American community.
New Dedicated Fund for Land in Black Hands
Last year we launched our first annual Land in Black Hands event (in collaboration with the Hudson Valley Farm Hub and Scenic Hudson) and, after a second event this year during Black History Month Kingston, we asked what ideas community members of color have for land access and ownership for people of color. A Land in Black Hands working group will be convened to turn ideas into reality through use of the funds raised.
New Staff Role: Culture and Community Engagement Captain
Shaniqua Bowden, formerly our Outreach Coordinator, has assumed a new title and specialized role of developing and carrying out programming and community engagement efforts to promote healing and relationships between people and land. Her work will have a particular focus on engagingbringing into the fold people of color who have been left out or disconnected, as well as those with limited access to land due to historical injustices.
Professional and Organizational Development
We are bringing together a Diversity Equity and Inclusion Committee for our board, staff, and community members to develop a DEI policy for our organization. We have attended and participated in trainings and events including:
2019 Land Trust Alliance Rally Conference
“A Seat At The Table”, a workshop by Conservationists of Color
Keynote address by Leah Penniman
“Decolonizing Hearts, Minds and Movements”, an Omega Institute leadership retreat
“Undoing Racism” Workshop by the Hudson Valley LGBTQ Center
“Getting Ahead of the Curve with Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity” training by GrantSpace
“Growing BIPOC Land & Food Sovereignty” webinar by Northeast Farmers of Color Land Trust
"Language Justice 101" Training facilitate by the Hudson Valley Farm Hub
Various other community meetings and forums related to housing injustice, reparations and related issues in Kingston.
Shared Staff Leadership: Toward Non-Hierarchy
Moving away from historically being a mostly white-led organization, after attending “Alternatives to Hierarchy: Exploring Shared Leadership in the Workplace” hosted by Commonwealth Hudson Valley & Good Work Institute in July 2019, we are working towards a shared, decision making model. In 2020, staff have been meeting in weekly circles with equal representation in decisions around programming, roles, work culture, leading and representing areas of our work, and how and where we allocate resources.
Supporting the Development of a Community Land Trust
In response to inequities in access to affordable homeownership, we are participating in an effort to organize community members to form a Community Land Trust. This model to create permanently affordable housing came out of the Civil Rights Movement. We are also developing a pilot program with Ulster County Habitat for Humanity to help launch this effort.
Land Matching and Kingston Garden Bed Project
We have created a new land matching portal on our website to connect folks who don't have their own land or access to land with land owners who are making their properties available (at no cost) for community food growing. Enthusiasm about this effort has inspired our involvement in a new collaboration, The Kingston Garden Bed Project, where we are helping to build garden beds for free at people's homes with our partners at the Kingston YMCA Farm Project, Seed Shed and The Farm Hub.
Please reach out if you want to get involved or if you have ideas for additional ways we can work together in solidarity through land.
The Kingston Land Trust Team