What's in a Name. . . Audubon?
In mid-March 2023, the NAS Board of Directors announced the decision to keep the organization’s name intact. NAS will continue to promote an awareness and understanding of his problematic legacy as an individual and the inherent inequalities in the conservation movement as a whole. As NAS explained, “the evaluation considered many factors to determine how the decision would impact NAS’s mission to protect birds and the places they need long into the future. Based on the critical threats to birds that Audubon must urgently address and the need to remain a non-partisan force for conservation, the Board determined that retaining the name would enable NAS to direct key resources and focus towards enacting the organization’s mission.” The following link is the complete story of National Audubon’s reasoning, decision, and actions: https://www.audubon.org/news/national-audubon-society-announces-decision-retain-current-name
In addition, a link to NPR’s Science Friday podcast on March 31, 2023 is below, with interesting information and thoughts. National Audubon Society Announces Decision to Retain Current Name: https://www.npr.org/pocasts/583350334/science-friday
The organization’s name decision has trickled down to individual chapters …what to do with the name AUDUBON in the chapter name? NAS emphasizes that “chapters are an essential part of what makes NAS a strong and impactful force for conservation.” and “that chapters are independent entities with the authority to make their own naming decisions.”
Among the many possible considerations for WCAS (and, for that matter in understanding NAS’s decision) are the following:
In 2020, in the wake of the George Floyd protests, WCAS published a policy statement in solidarity with the Black community: https://www.wcaudubon.org/policy-blog/wcas-statement-on-solidarity-with-the-black-american-community. This is an issue that our chapter needs to continue to raise, to examine, and to put to work to create a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive presence … now and for the future. Additionally, Western Cuyahoga Audubon sent a letter in March of 2021 to the then president of the National Audubon Society, Mr. David Yarnold, stating, “Our chapter (WCAS) is striving to be more diverse and inclusive, but we find that we need more and better information about the future of the Audubon name and how NAS suggests we respond to those who raise the issue of Mr. Audubon’s beliefs. Please continue to have National Audubon and the Great Lakes Regional Office reach out to chapters to assist with charting a socially just and inclusive future for those who love the outdoors and birds. Chapters are the grassroots of the parent organization and any help would be greatly appreciated.”
So we ask, how can we, as a chapter, improve our presence in diverse communities? How can we work to have a more diverse Board, and attract a diversity of members and volunteers? Everyone deserves to enjoy birds, wildlife, and the habitats they need … and that we need as well.
The Board of WCAS has wrestled with many considerations, but we have not reached out to our members for their thoughts, considerations, and suggestions. As members, we’d like to hear from you. If you have positive, well thought out suggestions, (on the Audubon name, how our chapter can work toward inclusivity, what our chapter can do to increase diverse members and volunteers), and how to implement them, we would like to hear from you. Suggestions may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you for your time and serious consideration of this matter.
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