Equity Statement

We envision a river health movement that is effective and relevant to all the Willamette Basin’s diverse communities, and where the benefits and impacts of river health are shared equitably among all.

At the Willamette River Network, we believe all people have a right to the benefits of a healthy river and that achieving watershed health requires the skills, values and leadership of all. 

Donovan Smith marches at the Portland climate rally.

We have a long way to go to achieve this vision. The mainstream U.S. environmental movement is overwhelmingly white in comparison to our population, and low-income people and people of color are at disproportionate risk from environmental hazards such as river pollution. 

We can’t succeed in creating a healthier watershed for our communities without considering who isn’t being included in that vision. Our Network recognizes that many issues plaguing our river are products of an unfair system that places power and influence in the hands of few while marginalizing others based on their race, origins, socioeconomic status and/or other factors. Our efforts to heal the river must also aim to dismantle this unfair system.

Equity: the existence of conditions where

all people can reach their full potential.

In recognition of this dynamic, the Willamette River Network will strive to remove the barriers that exclude some communities from having a say in our river’s future and accessing the benefits our river provides. It will also strive to reduce the unfair exposure to water pollution and lack of access to water that some communities face.

As we continue to develop the Network’s staff and programs, we are thinking hard about how it can continue the crucial work of improving river health while expanding its vision to better serve our whole river community.