The Edmonds Diversity Commission held its annual retreat along with its monthly meeting on Wednesday, May 2, at the Edmonds Senior Center. All commissioners were present, with the exception of Donnie Griffin, Sarah Mixson and Brian Potter, along with staff, council liaison Adrienne Fraley-Monillas, and four community members.
Following public comments, Communities of Color Coalition chair David Ortiz gave a presentation about “Communication in Crisis,” focused on how to ensure two-way communication that is effectively interpreted by both sides. It was based on the Creative Commons Crisis Communication Model. Since the diversity commission is often communicating with the public during periods of crisis or conflict, it is critical that all citizens are able to gain a full understanding of what is being stated and able to interpret both the content and the relationship to our community.
Ortiz also provided a review of the recent 2018 Conference of Race held at Edmonds Community College, where the Edmonds Diversity Commission hosted a table and participated. The conference experienced the largest attendance in its history at just under 300 attendees. The Communities of Color Coalition also announced that it plans to invite the Edmonds Diversity Commission to engage in a strategic partnership in the coming year.
The need for a partnership with the coalition and other organizations was reinforced by the introduction of several stories of racial incidents in Edmonds in recent months, in addition to those already communicated to the commission and previously reported here. In addition to the incident involving racial slurs directed at a bilingual Edmonds resident at McDonald’s restaurant, several others that were reported anonymously to commissioners. One involved an African American man who was accosted at a local business and another an African American woman who was on her way to an appointment and told her kind was not wanted in Edmonds. There were also similar stories related to LGBTQ residents of Edmonds. Although only the incidents reported to the police can be verified, the commission welcomes the sharing of stories in order to continue to shine a light on some of the challenges our community faces.
The 2017-18 Edmonds Diversity Film Series closed at the Edmonds Theater with “Out In America” on April 12. The commission is in the process of selecting films for the 2018-19 series, and all of the films will continue to be screened at no cost to viewers thanks to the support of the commission, Edmonds Center for the Arts, the Edmonds Theater, and Rick Steves’ Europe.
In other business, the commission discussed the initial recommendations from the Policy Subgroup to be proposed to the city and/or the local business community. Recommendations included more visible representations of our community’s inclusiveness; potential diversity commission participation in the city’s wellness committee; a better understanding of incident protocol so no citizen or employee fears retribution for reporting incidents; and means to improve communication between the city staff and the commission and to identify effective tools and policies to adopt. The committee is establishing a protocol for how to forward recommendations to the mayor, city council, and other government and community leaders.
The commission will again participate in the Fourth of July parade, and scheduling and planning has begun for the World Café event in the early winter.
The commission’s grant program, which supports events proposed by community members and groups, awarded two new grants in its second cycle of 2018. The awardees are an After-School Multicultural Art Program for College Place Middle School and A Pride of Edmonds Picnic organized by a variety of groups and volunteers to be held this June during Pride Month.
The partnerships and communications subgroups will engage with the Communities of Color Coalition regarding the commission’s upcoming partnership. They will also continue work in all areas of media, education and other communications methods to expand visibility within the community, culminating in a comprehensive Communications and Outreach Plan.
The Edmonds Diversity Commission holds its public meetings on the first Wednesday of every month (6- 8 p.m.) at the Edmonds Senior Center. Please check the website for dates and locations. 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: www.edmondswa.gov/diversity-commission-home.html.
— Submitted by Maria Montalvo, Edmonds Diversity Commission