Solidarity Through Land

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:

 

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
  • 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.

In Unity,

The Kingston Land Trust Team