Sequim to host community talks on race, equity, inclusion

First virtual event set for Saturday

SEQUIM — Officials with the City of Sequim look to take what they call the first step in creating a more inclusive Sequim with community conversations.

Virtual talks on race, equity and inclusion will be held at 10 a.m. Saturday and 6 p.m. Tuesday, March 23.

The conversations follow the Sequim City Council’s resolution from last June that condemned discrimination and racism. The council potentially will use feedback to apply policy changes that may apply to anti-racism and discrimination practices.

To participate, residents must register through links at the city’s website www.sequimwa.gov or at https://tinyurl.com/PDN-sequimconversation.

Barbara Hanna, Sequim communications and marketing director, said a volunteer team of city staff and community members have worked since August on orchestrating the talks.

“We wanted to be thoughtful about how we did this and creating the right environment so people feel comfortable doing this,” she said.

City staff and Sequim community members Miriame Cherbib, Vicki Lowe and Carlos Osorio will host the meetings centered on four questions:

• How do you feel Sequim is doing as it relates to equity and inclusion?

• What do you envision for our city in 20 years related to equity and inclusion?

• How do we create an even more inclusive city?

• How does our community want to be involved in this work?

Hanna said they’ve reached out to various agencies, such as Peninsula College and Sequim School District, in hopes that the meetings will reach a wide range of community members.

In the city’s press release on the meetings, it states facilitators will “encourage all participants to be kind and brave, assume good intent, be ready to learn from other people, seek first to understand, acknowledge that everyone has something to contribute to this effort, and to let yourself be OK with being uncomfortable.”

“For some people this is a difficult conversation,” Hanna said. “We want people to know it can be uncomfortable and we want them to know it’s OK.”

City officials will not record the meeting and plan to only share general themes and thoughts from the meetings with the city council and various organizations.

“We want to protect the participants and create a safe environment,” Hanna said.

She said the fourth question, how the community wants to be involved, will be important because it tells the city staff “where we go from there in a meaningful way.”

Background

In the past year, Sequim has seen marches for Black Lives Matter, rallies and sign holders for various causes, continued contention related to the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe’s medication-assisted treatment facility and many more social issues.

In June, City Council member Brandon Janisse brought the resolution forward to the council at the request of Sequim resident Shenna Younger, who started an online petition with 2,000-plus signatures asking the council to condemn systemic racism. Younger and others previously proposed a resolution in March, which led to the petition.

Council members approved the resolution but agreed in July to hold off on evaluating city code and practices until they’ve received community feedback.

Former City Manager Charlie Bush said in June the discussions would look at policies and procedures to evaluate if anything was embedded in city code and/or practices that was innately discriminatory.

He added that he didn’t feel Sequim had obvious issues, but he wanted to make sure the city doesn’t.

“We don’t think we do, but we want to make sure that we don’t,” Bush said.

For more information on the conversations, visit www.sequimwa.gov or call 360-683-4139.

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