From the #MeToo movement to homelessness to age discrimination to whether you feel welcome and safe in our town, more than 25 Edmonds residents sat down together Saturday morning in a café style setting to discuss and share their thoughts and perspectives.
Organized and hosted by the Edmonds Diversity Commission, the Diversity World Café gave participants the opportunity to rotate between tables designated for each of five discussion topics and moderated by a commission member.
The event was emceed by Edmonds City Councilmember Adrienne Fraley-Monillas, who serves as the commission’s council representative.
“Our goal today is to get a range of opinions, thoughts and perspectives on these issues,” she said. “By engaging in these discussions in a safe, non-threatening atmosphere we gain deeper understandings and appreciations of how others think and how we as individuals are both directly and indirectly affected. While we may not always agree, the hope is that we emerge with a heightened mutual respect that will carry over into our everyday lives in the community.”
At the close of the event, the table moderators each stood to present a quick encapsulation of the key points that came out during the table discussions.
Commissioner Ed Dorame moderated the table discussion on age discrimination.
“One big point that came out today is that age discrimination does not only affect older individuals, but younger ones too,” he said. “For example, since their income is generally lower, younger people can experience this through economic exclusion from housing and other opportunities. This could potentially be addressed by increasing the supply of affordable housing in our community.”
Commission member Anabel Hovig was moderator for a table discussing the #MeToo movement.
“We generally agreed that the stereotypes leading to gender discrimination and objectifying women have been perpetuated in our society for generations, and that the #MeToo movement is a powerful force helping to turn this around,” she reported. “We identified that a deeper understanding of the issue of consent is key to moving beyond these patterns, and suggest that schools should consider including a unit on consent in health classes. But we also noted that we need to be watchful, especially at this time, that the power of the #MeToo movement not be weaponized to disrupt lives by accusation.”
Look for more Diversity World Café events in the coming months. The commission is also sponsoring a film series beginning this month, and grant awards to help promote and enhance diversity in the community.
The Edmonds Diversity Commission meets the first Monday of each month at the Edmonds Senior Center. All are welcome to attend. Learn more about the Edmonds Diversity Commission at its website.
— Story and photos by Larry Vogel