In Solidarity

Black Lives Matter. The targeting of birder and Audubon board member Christian Cooper in New York Central Park; the recent killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, and Ahmaud Arbery; the unfair economic hardship and disproportionate health impacts on communities of color from the COVID-19 crisis — each of these stand as stark reminders of the ways structural inequality and institutionalized racism prevent us from working together to build a more equitable and resilient society.  Many of our neighbors are awakening to something that you probably already knew: Far too many Californians suffer injustice and are excluded from opportunity based on the color of their skin. More importantly, a growing chorus of people are finally saying “enough!”

The California Native Plant Society joins countless others in reaffirming our commitment to inclusion and equity. We unequivocally condemn violence against Black people and oppose outdated and racist systems that enable that violence. We believe California’s incredible human diversity is key to our shared efforts to celebrate, protect, and restore this state’s unparalleled natural diversity. Together, we restate our ongoing commitment to fighting against racial inequality and working for environmental justice, that we may all enjoy a just and safe Society that is as inclusive and diverse as our state.

We invite you to join us in conversation, and join together in real and sustained action, as we make sure the future is more fair and more beautiful than what we leave behind.


Special thanks to Coyote Brush Studios for allowing us to re-use their artwork.


  1. Thank you, LIv, for reminding us that our endeavors in support of native plant diversity are based, most fundamentally, on the needs shared by all of humanity.

    1. Thanks for the shout-out, Michael, but I’m happy to report that this message was crafted by our Executive Director Dan Gluesenkamp and our Board of Directors. CNPS staff and leadership stand together behind this statement and appreciate all that *you* are doing in support.

      1. I’m delighted to hear that Dan and the Board of Directors also had a direct hand in writing that beautiful and important message on behalf of your entire CNPS team – again, you all inspire us to do “the right thing”. Ten years ago, the original inspiration for rescuing the abandoned 1/2-acre of native plantings that had been overgrown with weeds for a decade – which we’ve been calling the Native/Environmental/Xeriscape/Temescal/Garden (N/E/X/T/Garden) since its increase to a 3/4-acre area seven years ago – was to show people how beautiful and sustainable native plants could be in a public garden so that they might bring (more) natives into their home gardens. Over the last decade, however, we have discovered an additional source of inspiration: the diverse and ever-changing group of monthly volunteers who have helped sustain this effort – hands-on – while engaging us in conversations about how to heal everything and everyone who lives on our small planet. In the course of restoring and expanding a native plant garden and wildlife habitat, we have been restoring and expanding our human community as well…together.

      2. On June 8th I sent a letter to the East Bay Regional Park District asking for information about the the Park District police in light of the Black Lives Matter protests. I specifically asked if it had protocols for handling the kind of calls and charges that Amy Cooper made against the Black Birder in Central Park. I also asked for a breakdown of the Park District police force by age, race, gender, etc., among a number of other questions. I have yet to get a response. I don’t know if I can attach the letter, Email me if you want a copy at
        Norman La Force, Chair, Sierra Club East Bay Public Lands Committee

  2. Thank you. Let’s continue to pursue this issue over the very long haul to get things going in the right direction.

  3. Thank you Liv and team. This is leadership! With ever greater climate change disasters looming on the horizon, we may have this one moment in history to get back on track to learn how to live in peace and harmony with one another, and with respect and care for all living things. May it be so.

  4. Committing to sustained action is wonderful! What concrete actions is CNPS taking to reduce inequality within the society? What is the racial diversity of the staff and leadership? What support does the Society offer to black members of its community? How will the Society work to elevate black and brown voices moving forward?

    1. Thank you SO MUCH for this cogent analysis, Rachel – the answers to your questions will constitute an “action plan” for all of us. As one “on the ground” step in addressing your questions, per my previous comment (above), I would recommend seeking out disadvantaged communities in our own cities that might want our support in developing native plant gardens on underutilized land in the neighborhood – we could heal the earth and one another in the process of planning native plantings (e.g. pollinator gardens for nearby vegetable gardens & fruit tree orchards) that would most suit local needs. Could we make the necessary connections and arrangements in time for planting in October, if pandemic restrictions are sufficiently eased by then?

  5. Here’s a random idea, somewhat in line with Rachel Sim’s above comment: What plant related businesses in California are Black-owned and how can CNPS help support them? There may not be many, but there are some. It’s not hard to find them – I’ve found a few greater SF Bay Area Black-owned organic farms/CSAs and as well as a Berkeley Black-owned plant nursery that, while largely catering to organic food gardening, also sells drought tolerant and California native plants: (There are similar businesses in Southern California, but I live in the SF area which is why I specifically mention SF Bay Area businesses.) While organic agriculture is not a primary focus of CNPS, it is a related “allied” interest. Why not cultivate (sorry, pun not intended) a conversation? Or trade speakers? Or buy from them? Concrete action is the most meaningful type of support.

  6. Thank you for this beautiful post. Like many of us who are trying to understand what we can do about systemic racism , I have been listening to minority leaders and reading a lot on the subject. Today I read an article about some of the racist history in the environmental movement and feel we need to bring it to the light. I was dismayed to read “John Muir sought to force the Miwok Indians out of Yosemite Valley and lamented their tending of the landscape as ‘dirty and irregular.’ The Manhattan aristocrats Madison Grant and Henry Fairfield Osborn co-founded the Save the Redwoods League in 1918 and, four years later, helped establish the American Eugenics Society…”

    As a first step, we need to be aware of these ugly connections to racism and have some sort of Truth and Reconciliation. It’s becoming more and more clear that the healing of nature is inextricably linked to healing within the human family.

  7. I would love to have this image in a large size to post in my window, which is right by a trail in east bay open space. I bet others would, too. I would be willing to donate to CNPS for a poster of this. Maybe other people would as well. Could it be made available?

  8. I commend Dan and the Board of Directors taking a stand. However, I was not surprised seeing the seething hate, ignorance and racism expressed on the CNPS Facebook post tonight by many members of CNPS. It was so intense, administrators had to shut it down. Unfortunately, this is not the first time this has happened.

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