This is a pivotal moment for our country and our world. Between the widespread social disruption brought on by Covid-19, the elections, and the upswell of resistance to the long-standing, systemic, and brutal violence perpetrated against black, brown, indigenous and other historically marginalized people(s), the fabric of our society is being laid bare. With this comes a real chance for deep and lasting change.
The understanding that systems built on white supremacy and the systematic oppression of people of color and abuse of the Earth, for the protection of power and property for the few, is not new. Neither is the tireless work of many to transform these systems. We celebrate the vision, work, and dedication of those committed to justice and equity throughout time. We also grieve the countless lives lost and the many families and communities ravaged due to this enduring struggle. Though white supremacy and other interlocking systems of domination and oppression are designed to benefit the few at the expense of many, we also recognize that, in very different ways, these systems rob all involved of some level of their humanity.
At The Ojai Foundation (TOF), we aim to learn from, embody, and model peaceful culture. With this, and as a 42-year-old crossroads for wisdom traditions from around the world, social transformation lies at the heart of our work. We have been gifted by teachers and staff from many different walks of life, cultures, and continents, helping to give life and shape to what TOF has become over time. As an organization, we have worked in different ways to be in solidarity with these teachers and the communities they are part of.
And, as a predominantly white-led organization throughout our history, we acknowledge that, regardless of intentions, some of our actions have caused harm and perpetuated racism and other systems of inequality. While we can say unequivocally that we support movements for justice, such as Black Lives Matter, we know that we have more work to do as an organization before we could claim to truly be in solidarity.
This ongoing work involves both inner and outer system change. We are committed to this work, and to giving sustained care and attention to both understanding impact and taking tangible actions to further equity and justice. In these ways, and more, we commit to learn about and continue to move toward meaningful solidarity.
Our immediate action steps include the following:
- Move our resources out of a mainstream bank and into a triple bottom line B-Corp that puts more money into grassroots efforts and communities of color.
- Prioritize programming and offerings that center justice and equity.
- Decrease barriers and increase access to the land and programs for those at the forefront of movements for justice and those who have historically faced barriers to participation for financial or other reasons. (See The FIRE Fellowship as one example.)
- Engage a deep evaluation around social equity and the practice of council and other practices that TOF has engaged.
- Transition from being a predominantly white-led organization doing multicultural work to a multicultural organization doing multicultural work.
This is just a beginning. These are clear, meaningful actions that we can take in the coming months. We look forward to your participation and engaging this work together as we all continue to learn how best to move toward peace with ourselves, our communities, and our planet.