Agendas and Minutes

Social Equity and Racial Justice Committee (View All)

Social Justice and Racial Equity Advisory Commission

Thursday, December 01, 2022

Social Equity and Racial Justice Commission
December 1, 2022, 5:00 pm to 6:30 pm
Remote Meeting via Zoom
1. Call to order: 5:00
Attendance: Simon, Decker, Williams, Yamaguchi, Santiago, DuQuenne (council liaison) Seltzer (staff liaison)
Absent: Choudhary
2. Approval of Minutes of November 3 and November 11, 2022
M/S Decker/Simon of the November 3 minutes: motion passed unanimously.  M/S Decker/Simon of the November 11: motion passed unanimously.
3. Public Input: None
4. Report of diversity events or trainings.
Yamaguchi reported the Ashland Forward group hosted an event with Reverend Dr. TLC Avery, author of Dismantling Racism. Avery was invited to talk about her book.  She posed the question “what is your why?” and why do you do the things you do in your community? Yamaguchi spoke of her grandparents internment during WWII.  A candlelight vigil was held for Aiden Ellison in front of the mural at the Ashland High School.  Seltzer informed the group of the Public Art Commission public forum scheduled for January 12, 2023 with Micah Blacklight. DuQueene suggests inviting the Planning Commission to an upcoming meeting.  Yamaguchi encouraged the group to start thinking about events SERJ would like to be involved in for 2023.
DuQueene noted the City is not planning an MLK event and that BASE has pulled out of the celebration of King. The city has a banner to hang across Main Street. She suggests SERJ submit something to the City recognizing MLK to post on the City website. Yamaguchi noted that BASE and Afro Scouts is doing a black history month show at Catalyst. 
Williams will write something about MLK and mention SERJ to be posted on the website.  She will ask Gillis for her input.
DuQueene asks SERJ to work with her to host an event for MLK at the Armory in 2024.
5. Update on member recruitment.
Yamaguchi gave an update on her efforts to recruit new members.  Santiago had suggested an individual.  Yamaguchi has reached out encouraging them to submit their application but recognizes people may be hesitant given the holidays. 
6. Revisit of hybrid, live or zoom only meetings for 2023.
Simon noted it is so convenient to meet via Zoom, it is positive from health perspective, it is an equalizer, and it is easier to get a quorum. The disadvantage is we don’t get to know one another.
Generally members agreed that Zoom is convenient but it would be nicer to see people face to face.  Maybe hosting face to face once a season. Seltzer noted the large conference room is available for hybrid meetings.  Santiago offered to host an event for SERJ at Gambrel Gallery sometime in the spring.
Generally the group agreed to continue meeting via Zoom and Santiago will determine a date for a social gathering. 
7. Update on the Welcome Project.
Yamaguchi met with Lessard to discuss the project.  Yamaguchi offered three ideas for the project with a focus on “welcoming” marginalized identities we need to create a firm base of welcome of the people that are here:
1) A BIPOC business host a reception as a means to connect the general public to be aware that the business is BIPOC.  She suggests developing a twelve-month calendar of business receptions. Some of the city funds could be used to pay for advertising, refreshments etc. 
2) Researching and learning about BIPOC families that have lived in Ashland for generations and all their contributions to the community.
3) Digital archive of videos by marginalized people.
Yamaguchi encouraged the group to submit ideas of businesses to include and individuals who could be included in the videos.
8. Follow up discussion and review of the November 11 meeting.
A: Review of draft questions for chief O’Meara. Simon will email the chief and invite him to attend a future meeting and respond to the questions.
B. Does SERJ want to invite a police officer to attend a SERJ meeting as a non-voting member? Some members were supportive of the idea others were not.  For now, the idea is tabled.
C. Action items to be competed e.g. response from SOU President regarding diversity of candidates. Decker will email the President’s office and ask for a response.
9. Other Business None
10. Council Liaison Duqeene referenced the email she sent to SERJ with her report.
Action Recap:
  • DuQueene will organize MLK 2024 with help from SERJ
  • Simon will email Police Chief with questions
  • Williams will write a piece about Dr. Martin Luther King and ask Gillis to collaborate
  • Santiago will host a social gathering in the spring
  • Yamaguchi will continue working on the welcome project
  • Decker will follow up with SOU President
  • Seltzer will invite ASD Superintendent to attend an upcoming meeting
Meeting adjourned: 6:30 p.m.
Email from Gina DuQueene
Hello All,
I wanted to share my liaison report with you ahead of time.  There are many topics and discussion to be had during the meeting. Therefore,  I thought I would share now.
The beginning of November Hillary Larson contacted me and introduced me to Rev. Dr. Terrlyn Curry Avery the author of the book Dismantling Racism. Rev. Dr. Avery is an author, a poet and a teacher. She is a wealth of knowledge and compassion.
November 22nd she spoke and there was a discussion and booking signing over seventy five people were there. After the discussion everyone walked away with anti-racism resources.    
Also some of my constituents helped Hillary put this event on.  They are wanting to do a larger event this Spring and continue the conversation. Perhaps SERJAC may want be a part of putting this on.
Nov. 23rd. 2023 was the second anniversary of Aidan Ellison murder. With my very short term planning 102 people showed up for Aidan. Rev. Dr. Avery spoke and the students with Truth to Power were there and this was a compassionate vigil for Aidan. I hope this advisory committee to the council may want to take this on annually.
When I think of SERJ I also think of housing and how this body can invite the planning dept. and planning commission to discuss workforce housing, the unhoused, red lining and gentrification. 
The Public Arts Advisory Committee is also looking at vacant walls and areas where there can be murals through out the city.  Perhaps SERJAC may want to work with them as well.
I was looking at the calendar it is packed with days of remembrance, Holidays, and national days along with the ones that stand out for us.  The city of Ashland maybe able to add information about these dates to the website.  This would bring attention to people that this is happening on this date and what it means. 
Is SERJAC looking at the calendar and planning to do any celebrations this year?  If so what and how can I help?
Thank you,

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