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A new regional coalition launches!

November 1, 2019

Dear colleagues:

First and foremost, we are thinking about everyone impacted by the fire in Sonoma County. Please stay safe and take good care of yourselves, your family, and your neighbors. We will be with you as you recover and adapt to the new realities of our fire-prone state.

The recent wind storms and fires remind us of the interconnectedness of our region. Within the climate crisis lies an opportunity for us to work strategically towards landscape-scale impact in our region. Today’s challenges compel us to build alliances with new groups and communities that are also working towards healthy, resilient lands and people.

Today we announce the beginning of a new regional coalition.

This will be a large, diverse, and powerful coalition of nonprofits, public agencies, and Indigenous Tribes that directly or indirectly serve all 8 million Bay Area residents living in the 10 counties of the greater Bay Area.

This new coalition will champion and be the regional voice for resilient lands, water, and people in the Bay Area. We envision a Bay Area that is home to healthy lands, healthy people, and healthy communities, for generations to come. We want to work together to adapt to and mitigate climate change, and also work for a more just and equitable society. We will make this vision a reality by working together to set goals and advocate for the funding and policies we need to achieve them.

What connects this new and diverse coalition will be its members’ commitment to creating a healthy and resilient Bay Area for land, water, and people. Because all lands need to be stewarded, our work will encompass urban, rural, private and public lands. Because water is essential to life, we include watersheds from the ridges to the Bay. And because all people are affected by climate change and can benefit from a healthy Bay Area, the coalition will include groups focused on climate justice and social equity, acknowledging and celebrating our differences, and working together on shared goals.

This new regional coalition will lead two programs:

  1. Advocacy: The goal of this program is to transform how we, as a region, create resilient lands and people in the face of climate change while working towards justice and equity. Using clear guidelines and leveraging our members’ expertise and capacity, we will advocate for regional funding and policies that support the coalition’s mission and goals.
  2. Convening: The goal of this program is to build the relationships that support the environmental and social changes required for resilient lands and people. We will convene an annual Summit, support and connect working groups, and share information regularly via digital communications. The first Summit will most likely be held in the fall of 2020.

The new coalition will be different than the Bay Area Open Space Council (BAOSC). We stand on the shoulders of the many people who made the BAOSC what it was. And we recognize that we need to change in order to meet today’s challenges and opportunities. In addition, we will operate with a new financial model and oversight to provide the stability and continuity we need to support the coalition’s critical work.

It’s a new day.

We are forming this coalition with an urgent hope, acknowledgement that we do not have all the answers, and openness to what is possible when different perspectives are valued and listened to.

This is an experiment we launch with humility. The new coalition will need a name; goals for justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion; guidelines for the policies it advocates for; and so much more. There is still a lot to figure out and the intention is to do that together as a new coalition.

In the coming weeks and months, we will share more about the organizational, strategic, and business plans that have been developed and the opportunities to help shape their implementation. Soon we will invite organizations, agencies, and Tribes to join us as founding members, and companies to join as affiliates. Please stay tuned for more information and ways you can contribute and participate.

We are grateful to everyone who was involved in the planning process including those who shared input in an online survey or attended an input session. We are excited for what the future holds and we look forward to working together.

Sincerely,

The 32 members of the BAOSC Board, Advisory Council, and Planning Committee:

 

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Our thanks to Marin County Parks and Open Space District, Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District, Santa Clara Valley Open Space Authority, and Sonoma Ag and Open Space District for their financial support of the planning process.

We have been working hard since March of this year to reimagine the Bay Area Open Space Council (BAOSC). We considered lessons learned from the previous 29 years of the BAOSC, and focused our attention on what our Bay Area lands, waters, and people need today and into the future. The process included 360 online survey responses, 9 stakeholder interviews, 146 attendees at 4 input sessions, 6 meetings of the Planning Committee, and hours and hours of conversations.

For more information about the planning process, please see our blog.

We are grateful to the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria, Peninsula Open Space Trust, East Bay Regional Park District and Save the Redwoods League for their financial contributions to the BAOSC over the past year.

Thanks to Tina Stott, Laura Rodriguez, and Suzanne Beahrs for their different and invaluable roles in the planning process.