The BEA, launched by the Overbrook Foundation and led by grassroots participants, was originally convened at the Wingspread retreat center in the summer of 2013. At Wingspread, a majority grassroots group of leaders, in partnership with representatives from philanthropy and national greens, gathered to forge a way forward. We adopted the Jemez Principles for Democratic Organizing as our framework, making a commitment to inclusion, solidarity, self-determination and bottom-up organizing across our sectors. We also created a common vision statement and future strategy as integral steps toward building alignment and equity within the environmental and broader progressive movement.

The first BEA meeting was transformative – unprecedented in our authentic inclusion of three sectors of the movement, and determined in our ability to foster trust and overcome a complex history. We created Building Equity and Alignment to move our collective resources toward a more collaborative, connected and winning strategy. We believe that focusing on equity (how resources and power flow to remedy historic patterns of disparity) and alignment (how each player does their part to move the shared agenda forward) will bring us the kind of game-changing results at the scale we need now.

Since Wingspread, participants have created complementary Work Group teams, participated in funder panels, cross-sector strategy discussions, national actions, held EJ Principle discussions with well-respected EJ leaders and national groups, and conducted Jemez Principle trainings set to inform national groups of the powerful role of the grassroots. Currently, the Working Groups are developing timelines for engagement with an objective to expand the scope and membership of the BEA even further.

In November 2014, we brought together those who participated in the original Wingspread meeting along with new allies to extend the vision and work toward building greater alignment around the impact we want to have as a movement and the resources (amount, infrastructure, democratic distribution, etc.) needed to make it happen and win.