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Audubon no more. From now on, Birds Connect Seattle

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Formerly known as Seattle Audubon, Birds Connect Seattle will be the name of the city's birding organization moving forward.

According to a statement from the organization, the concept of "connection" was consistently brought up throughout the renaming process. It further says that birds connect across families, hemispheres, and habitats.

"We wanted a name that spoke to that idea, something simple and approachable, that immediately identifies the core of our mission and required no further explanation," Executive Director Claire Catania said Tuesday. "Rather than a barrier, this new name represents an open door for communities to join us in our mission to advocate and organize for cities where people and birds thrive."

Birds Connect Seattle spent eight months coming up with its new name. It announced in July 2022 that it would be changing its name due to its connection to John James Audubon, for which many Audubon Societies are named after. Audubon owned, sold, and bought enslaved African Americans through his general store in Kentucky and was very anti-abolition.

“Knowing what we now know and hearing from community members how the Audubon name is harmful to our cause, there is no other choice but to change," Catania said at the time. "...The shameful legacy of the real John James Audubon, not the mythologized version, is antithetical to the mission of this organization and its values."

After engaging with focus groups, launching a public survey, and receiving hundreds of emails and phones calls, the organization had input from more than 1,000 people. A committee was convened in January to consider a list of 263 name suggestions. The committee opted to nix any eponymous titles. It also avoided any suggestions with "society" in them, feeling that it wasn't inclusive. It also didn't want to use academic terms like “avian” and “ornithology.” That eventually led to lists of 50, 11, and then three potential names. Staff ultimately picked the final choice. Read more about the process here.

Birds Connect Seattle is not the first organization to pivot away from the name "Audubon." NPR reports that the former Audubon Naturalist Society near Washington, D.C. already changed its name to Nature Forward. Chicago Audubon is in the process of changing its name. Portland is also coming up with a new name. The National Audubon Society has opted to keep its original name.

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