Edmonds Diversity Commission focuses on equity and inclusion at May 3 meeting

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The Edmonds Diversity Commission was methodical and enthusiastic in its discussion of a wide range of activities and goals during its May 3 meeting.

Adam Khan has resigned from the commission, and the city has announced applications to fill the position are due by May 16, with interviews to be held on May 31. Six of the eight remaining commissioners were present (Donnie Griffin and Mario Brown absent), along with staff and four community members.

The meeting began with a review of recent actions, including a letter submitted by the commission to Senators Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell, and U.S. Representative Pramila Jayapal. The letter expressed concern over the recently initiated removal of LGBTQ from the US Census Bureau count in 2020. “If you do not count me, it does not mean I don’t exist,” said Ed Dorame, commission co-chair, as he read from the letter. The commission also reviewed its issued statement of condemnation and call to action over the recent swastika incident in Edmonds. The commission also reviewed its planned process to recommend a resolution from the Edmonds City Council to name an Indigenous People’s Day.

The Diversity Commission reported on its first retreat (held April 21), which covered a wide range of subjects. Specific attention was given to what inspires and drives each commissioner to be a part of this group, as well as how the commission will gauge success. Individually, commissioners shared stories of past experiences with racism and other forms of prejudice or intolerance due to accessibility, gender, sexual orientation, and more. The commission agreed that most important is a commitment to creating an ever-growing network of Edmonds residents aware of the critical issues related to diversity, equity and inclusion.

Administratively, the commission agreed that its sub-group structure is working well and should be maintained; identified more efficient ways to appoint new members; will recommend to amend its charter to state that commissioners must not miss more than four meetings in a year (or three in a row), and the city will ensure all new members receive the same training as existing members and all commissioners will have access to all materials and strategies to be pursued.

The minutes of the meeting are online along with other Diversity Commission materials. Community members are encouraged to review and make recommendations or suggestions.

The commission also heard reports from each of the three commission sub-groups — Policy, Partnerships and Events.

The Policy sub-group held the first two of more than a dozen planned interviews with city officials and civic leaders — first with Mayor Dave Earling and then with City Human Resources Director Mary Ann Hardy. The city’s 209 employees do not yet reflect the demographics, with only 11 percent people of color and 31 percent women. Diversity training policies were also reviewed. The sub-group relayed that Mayor Earling supported the commission speaking to “anyone at the city” and is confident in the city directors consider efforts to ensure diversity important. 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 is moving forward with its planning for the 4th of July parade, a fall world café event, a diversity-focused film festival over the winter, and a youth event in the spring. They also plan to initiate a grant program to provide small grants to co-sponsor events by other organizations in the community.

The Partnerships sub-group continues to work to create an informational clearinghouse for diversity and inclusion-related resources in the Edmonds/South Snohomish County area, identify key leaders and contacts at each of those organizations, and create meaningful partnerships with organizations with similar missions. Anyone with information of key groups that should be included, should contact the City of Edmonds via the information below.

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 Maria Montalvo, Edmonds Diversity Commission

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