Equity and Social Justice

Header photo: A Student Conservation Association crew helping restore Arboretum Creek in summer 2022.

Equity & Justice

Racism has no place in our society.

We are at an inflection point in our local and national conversations about the impacts of systemic racism, and about finding the remedies needed to move forward. The Arboretum Foundation condemns racist behavior and systems that undermine the humanity and rights of Black people and other racial and ethnic minorities in America.

The Arboretum is a place where people come to reflect, to be inspired, to celebrate or to grieve, to observe changes in the natural world—and perhaps in the process, be changed themselves. To this end, the Foundation has a specific charge to ensure that we help steward a welcoming and safe nature-based haven for all in our community.

Like many of you, we realize the importance of taking the time to listen and to learn. As Maya Angelou said, “Then when you know better, do better.” Racial injustice has been intertwined in the fabric of our society for more than 400 years, and rooting it out will require an enormous amount of honest reflection and introspective work.

So how are we moving forward? How are we achieving substantive change during this inflection point? Within our own systems, the Arboretum Foundation board and staff are committed to reexamining our organization—evaluating our hiring and recruiting processes, broadening our volunteer outreach, creatively funding increased access to the Arboretum’s environmental education and cultural programs, and identifying and addressing other barriers and inequities.

With our UW Botanic Gardens partner, we created a Diversity and Equity Committee, to explore jointly topics of diversity, equity, and inclusion—with the goal of providing a welcoming experience for all visitors, staff, and community members to our grounds and programs. These bimonthly conversations engage staff in the discovery, learning, and implementation of equitable and antiracist practices. See a list of our DEI conversation topics, resources, and discussion prompts.

In 2021, the Foundation successfully lobbied the Washington State Legislature for an appropriation to conduct a community survey related to the Washington Park Arboretum and Seattle Japanese Garden to help align future plans with our diverse community needs and priorities. This inventory project will engage the community to help define equity and inclusion priorities aligned with regional and statewide goals, appropriately recognize the Coast Salish peoples as the original inhabitants of the land, and guide community programming and engagement. The survey is scheduled for 2023.

The Foundation will also leverage its voice within our networks—through our partnerships at the Arboretum, with industry associations, and with Seattle-based arts, culture and science organizations. Together, we touch many people in our community and beyond. We each must use our voice when it comes to determining the future direction of our society.

two female interns with educator in forest setting

High school students srom the UW Botanic Gardens summer camp internship program.

Japanese Spicebush: A Four-Season Woodland Stunner

Japanese Spicebush: A Four-Season Woodland Stunner

Fall foliage and flower buds on a Japanese spicebush in the Arboretum's Woodland Garden. (Photo by Niall Dunne)Native to Japan, Korea, and China, Japanese spicebush (Lindera obtusiloba) is a stellar, all-season showstopper. Around mid-March, its bright-yellow,...

Woodland Meadow Project: Public Meeting Dec 7

Woodland Meadow Project: Public Meeting Dec 7

The current Crabapple Meadow is usable in summer but waterlogged for much of the year.The Woodland Meadow Project reimagines the current Crabapple Meadow (site of the Arboretum's original field nursery) as a year-round gathering and celebration space. While the...

Jim Olsen: Our Volunteer of the Year!

Jim Olsen: Our Volunteer of the Year!

Jim Olsen receiving his award the greenhouse's monthly potluck on Halloween.Congratulations to Jim Olsen, winner of our 2023 Volunteer of the Year Award! Our volunteer programs manager, Lily King, presented the award to Jim at the Pat Calvert Greenhouse’s monthly pot...