Equity is not a thing. It is not something that you can put your hands on or describe to the exact tee. Equity is not solid like a wall or stagnant like a pond. It is living and breathing and its shape depends on where and how it is needed. It flows and bends like a river, moving through rapids, over falls and sometimes through valleys that are easily traversed. Equity is a way of living and being.
Almost four years ago, Janice Deguchi came to Neighborhood House as our new Executive Director. Janice brought with her very strong values of equity and racial and social justice. She began focusing NH’s work through a powerful lens of equity. One of the first things that happened was looking at and rewriting the mission, vision and values of NH. This is where she helped give NH a river to flow down as we continue towards becoming a fully inclusive, anti-racist, multi-cultural organization.
Since her arrival, NH has started the Ant-Racist Challenge Team (ACT) to help focus the lens of equity, belonging and access on decision-making. This also includes the HR subcommittee, composed of members from both HR and ACT, which focuses on policies like the new Holiday structure and so much more. My position as Director of IDEA was created, as was the The Anti-Racist Training Team (ARTT), leading to the ability to conduct the Anti-Racist/Equity training internally. These are just to name a few of the ways we have executed the Anti-racist and equity work. There is still so much more to do.
As a part of this work, Neighborhood House will be holding its first ever Equity Summit! The theme of this summit is around the systems of poverty. We will explore how systems of poverty work to keep people in poverty and the effects of poverty. We will have breakout rooms with presenters who will focus on a multitude of topics as it pertains to poverty and the systems of poverty.
This Summit will happen on November 17, 2023 at South Seattle College. At this venue, there will be two prayer rooms, a lactation room and a quiet room to sit and just be for a while. We will have breakfast and lunch provided. This will be an all-day event for all staff. As an agency we will pause all services for the day so that everyone can attend the summit and have the opportunity to learn and be in community with one another.
The Summit is a way for us to move the anti-racist and equity work that we have all been learning and doing away from being just a concept and into being actionable. We will learn different tools and ways disrupt these systems.
There is an entire team working to put this event together from folks all over the agency. We are so excited to be working to plan this event. If you are interested in being a part of the planning for the Summit please reach out to me. We welcome your thoughts and ideas.