38. BIPOC Perspectives in Conservation

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BIPOC Perspectives in Conservation

Saturday, October 22 at 10:00-11:40 am, Pine Room

Session Description: The CNPS BIPOC Group came up with the BIPOC Perspectives session in which BIPOC presenters could have a space to speak upon their experiences in the conservation community. The aim is to highlight BIPOC work and perspectives historically ignored in the conservation community.

Session Chairs: Alejandra Soto (California Botanic Garden, Claremont, CA, USA) and Michael Viramontes (Rivers & Lands Conservancy, Riverside, CA, USA)

38.1    How to decolonize in 12 not so easy steps

Brenda Kyle (Independent California Naturalist & Interpretive Guide, Asuksangna, CA, USA)

Diversity in the workplace cannot happen until we decolonize our way of thinking. By using and adapting a 12 Step Recovery Program, we can make strides to end our addiction to the status quo.

38.2    Native Americans Yaraokmok of Our Ancestors through Native plants

Julia Samaniego (Independent, Los Angeles, CA, USA)

Native Plants have thrived for millions of years, yet their contributions remain largely elusive to contemporary society. Most Indegenious and Native American villages lack proper resources to pass down the basic teachings of even the most basic plant knowledge. In an effort to gather this ancestral knowledge, I have met with several of my fellow Tribal Knowledge Keepers from the Fernandeno Tattaviam village and Chumash Village to reveal the lost practices of agriculture science and cultural traditions that were once the foundation of our survival. For thousands of years Indegenious peoples have formed relationships with plants found across the continent. I hope with this wonderful experience as well as obtaining both perspectives, I will now be able to connect other villages with their Ancestors as well as teach our next generation of Naturalists to never forget that we are all connected.

38.3    Pueblote: Public Lands In People’s Hands. Hummingbird Farm – Community-centered environmental justice organizing to rebuild ancestral land relationships on 6 acres of Occupied Ramatush Ohlone territory in San Francisco

Xochitl Flores (PODER – People Organizing to Demand Environmental & Economic Rights, San Francisco, CA, USA)

Hummingbird Farm is community-based sustainable development working to rebuild ancestral plant relationships on 6 acres of Occupied Ramatush Ohlone Territory in what is now the Excelsior District of San Francisco.  The Farm seeks to restore the deep disconnect between community members and the land, workers and their labor, and indigenous practices and ancestral wisdom carried across borders.  Disconnection from land relationships combined with the growing pro-development interests in the district, necessitate a project like Hummingbird Farm that can repair the communities’ connection with the land and bring us together to push back against the pressures of gentrification impacting our community. Guided by the principles of the solidarity, economy, and environmental justice movements we create an intergenerational, intercultural, and restorative space where we are able to honor the Ohlone people and come together across generations to grow food, flowers, medicine, and share traditional ecological knowledge.  The project area contains some of the last remaining California Native grasslands in San Francisco and we are working alongside the Native American community in Yelamu to restore reciprocal cultural relationships with the land, each other, time and space.

38.4    The CNPS BIPOC Group

Michael Viramontes (Rivers & Lands Conservancy, Riverside, CA, USA)

The conservation movement as a whole has historically marginalized Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC). Many BIPOC workers, hobbyists, and recreationalists in conservation and the outdoors have experiences that may dissuade them from continuing their work or enjoyment in this field. It’s no secret this trend rings true throughout many large conservation organizations including the California Native Plant Society (CNPS). In February 2021, the first CNPS BIPOC Group meeting was held in which BIPOC native plant enthusiasts from throughout California came together via Zoom and shared their feelings and experiences in the conservation field. Each month after, new group members would join and feel bitter relief knowing they were not alone in their experiences.  Eventually the meeting space opened up to allow group members to deliver presentations about their own interests or skills. Since its beginning, our group members have supported each other by participating in events at each other’s organizations, as well as organizing our own events.  These events include the Theodore Payne Foundation’s 2022 Native Plant Garden Tour, CNPS South Coast’s Hike at Willow Springs Park, a group campout in Atascadero, and more!

38.5    BIPOC Perspectives Panel

Moderator: Michael Viramontes (Rivers & Lands Conservancy, Riverside, CA, USA); Panelists: Brenda Kyle (Independent California Naturalist & Interpretive Guide, Asuksangna, CA, USA), Julia Samaniego (Independent, Los Angeles, CA, USA), Xochitl Flores (PODER – People Organizing to Demand Environmental & Economic Rights, San Francisco, CA, USA), Dino Santos (CNPS BIPOC Group, San Diego, CA, USA)

The BIPOC Perspectives Panel is composed of our session speakers and a CNPS BIPOC group member.  The purpose of this panel is to provide additional time for the panelists to share their unique perspectives and experiences as BIPOC people in the world of native plants.  Additional questions, perspectives, and experience sharing from audience members is encouraged during this panel.

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Please join us in thanking our major sponsors for making this year’s event possible! Become a sponsor today.

Giant Sequoia


Valley Oak


Moulton Niguel Water District

White Sage

H.T. Harvey & Associates Ecological Consultants
East Bay Municipal Utility District

Melo Gardens

California Poppy

Westervelt Ecological Services

Carol Witham

Jepson Herbarium
Helix Environmental Planning