Commission member Diana White has reached out to local high school students interested in participating in the effort, similar to the process pursued in the City of Lynnwood last year, and has begun working with several volunteers.
The commission as a whole expressed its support of and engagement in this campaign to contribute to “a more accurate history,” in the words of Commissioner White. The decision was made to request that Indigenous People’s Day coexist with Columbus Day, rather than replace it as has been the approach in some cities, in order to invite an inclusive and comprehensive discussion of our history as Americans. “History is still being told,” White said, “and we are not done telling it yet.”
In other business, the Aug. 2 meeting focused on how to build on progress made in the first half of the year and continue to raise awareness and impact behavior related to diversity and inclusion. Throughout the meeting, the two newest commissioners — Sarah Mixson and Anabel Hovig — demonstrated their growing and enthusiastic participation in a variety of initiatives, and it was noted by a community member that the commission is truly providing “a platform for the community to be engaged”.
The commission announced the award of its first two grants under its diversity-oriented grant program. The first, a collaboration of local community groups and the Edmonds School District Department of Equity, Diversity and Outreach, will be a film screening and discussion of “Black Girl in Suburbia.” Film maker and director Melissa Lowery will participate in the event and discussion. The second, named as a multicultural event, “Stories for Self and Solidarity,” has garnered support from a range of businesses and community leaders and groups, including the Edmonds Neighborhood Action Coalition. The event will be open to the public and to people of all ages and discuss the importance of narrative and messaging, and the ways language shapes our worlds and can be used to build bridges.
Each of these local organizations was awarded a $500 grant. The intent of the program is to harness the power and enthusiasm of local community groups, agencies, organizations or individuals by providing funding to support additional programming that promote diversity, equity and inclusion. The grant program will continue in 2018 and future applicants are encouraged to monitor the commission web page for more information.
Following the screening of “Black Girl in Suburbia,” the Edmonds Diversity Film Series will kick off its first screening in October at the Edmonds Theater. In partnership with the Edmonds Center for the Arts, the Diversity Commission will sponsor a series of six films with a diversity and inclusion theme and screen these movies free to the public. The commission, the Edmonds Theater, and the ECA look forward to bringing community members together to study serious subjects in a theater setting, and the Ccmmission will lead a discussion following each screening. Dates and times will be posted on the city website very soon.
In addition, commission members held their final interview in the first round of fact-finding with city staff members. Economic Development and Community Services Director Patrick Doherty, who also serves as the city liaison to the Diversity Commission, discussed how he communicates the commission activities and progress to the city, staff, and citizens. He also said he believes the commission is already making an impact.
The commission’s events sub-group reported a successful 4th of July parade, with several groups coming together to march with the commission in the parade. The last event of the year will be the World Café-style discussion of diversity and inclusion challenges in Edmonds, similar to that held last year, scheduled for October. The partnerships sub-group has scheduled meetings with Diversity and Inclusion-engaged organizations, including the Edmonds Unitarian Universalist Church, and is reaching out to an ever-growing list of diversity and inclusion-related resources so the commission can collaborate in future programming. The Commission is focused on expanding relationships with groups across Edmonds and the nearby area, and not allow visibility to be limited to only some neighborhoods.
Citizens should contact the commission if they have information for any organizations or individuals that should be included in this effort.
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 web page: 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