The Edmonds Diversity Commission during its April 5 meeting focused on past as well as future events and priorities. Seven of the nine commissioners were present (Mario Brown and Adam Khan absent), along with staff and eight community members.
Reflecting on lessons from the March 17 Youth Forum, “Your Voice Matters,” the commission discussed some of the surprises and insights gleaned about diversity among Edmonds’ younger residents. Students from Edmonds high schools were invited, and the topics of discussion focused on what was actually happening in students’ daily lives.
The students shared meaningful observations about what they see as escalating bullying, and how social media is the main avenue in modern-day bullying, especially on Snapchat where taunts disappear quickly and cannot be traced, as well as racial slurs and offensive language spoken openly in public. Students discussed that views of young people often reflect the opinions of their parents, but believe the younger generation is more capable of having difficult discussions and questioning the status quo.
Following the review of what was learned, the commission also recognized the efforts of Youth event volunteer Amelia Wood, who led planning and implementation along with Diversity Commission staff member Misha Carter and Commissioner Diana White.
The Edmonds Diversity Commission 2017 Work Plan was finalized based on recommendations from the three commission sub-groups: Policy, Partnerships, and Events.
The Policy sub-group will kickoff an aggressive schedule of interviews with city officials and civic leaders, starting with Mayor Dave Earling. The sub-group plans to collect and assess data from a variety of sources to help meet the commission’s charter to make recommendations to the city and its elected officials in regard to policy.
The Events sub-group maintains the 2016 plan for at least one event per quarter, with an informal community gathering, diversity-focused world café event, and 4th of July parade. They also hope to organize film and speaker series and storytelling event, as well as look at ways to co-sponsor events by other organizations in the community.
The Partnerships sub-group strives to establish the commission as the main conduit to and clearinghouse for diversity and inclusion-related resources in the Edmonds/South Snohomish County area, and create meaningful partnerships with organizations with similar missions.
The Policy and Partnerships sub-groups will collaborate on policy recommendations to the city council regarding Columbus Day and Indigenous People’s Day. The commission is also reviewing action regarding changes to the U.S. Census that were proposed in the last month.
In other business, the group also reviewed the Mayor’s and Diversity Commission’s statements in reaction to comments by two Fire District 1 Commissioners, as well as the recent developments in the police department (including settlements and pending lawsuits and the social worker to be hired by the Edmonds and Lynnwood police departments).
Information about the meetings, city-sponsored and other diversity events in Edmonds, and resources for issues related to diversity and inclusion can be found at the Commission’s webpage: http://www.edmondswa.gov/diversity-commission-home.html. The Edmonds Diversity Commission holds its public meetings on the first Wednesday of every month (6-8 p.m. at the Edmonds Senior Center).
— Submitted by Commissioner Maria Montalvo