Race and Social Justice Initiative Community Kick-Off a Success!

The City of Seattle’s Race and Social Justice Initiative (RSJI) sponsored the first of a series of community meetings asking the public to come and share ideas on how to end racial inequity in jobs, housing, education and other areas, and to develop a RSJI work plan for the next Three Years (2012-2014).

A couple of very involved and dedicated SDOT employees, who are also on SDOT’s RSJI Change Team, volunteered their time to facilitate group discussions at the RSJI Community meeting on Saturday, November 12, which was held at the Rainier Community Center. Most of the other volunteers are City employees as well. Over 140 people participated during the day. The day started with a welcome by Mayor McGinn, followed by inspirational poetry (“Spoken Word”) by Youth Undoing Institutionalized Racism. The audience was seated in groups of eight – ten participants in order to facilitate group discussions.

Julie Nelson, Seattle Office for Civil Rights (SOCR) Director, and Glenn Harris, SOCR Race and Social Justice Initiative Manager, gave an overview looking back to the City’s work on the initiative and moving forward, citing examples of City success in programs, policies and partnerships. Key opportunity areas will be focused around: housing, community development, environment, education, health, jobs, and criminal justice. They also explained that the strategies for the RSJI Three Year Plan will be:

  • Apply equity tools to city programs
  • Build racial equity into policies and city initiatives
  • Partner with other institutions and the community

After more group discussion, participants had the chance to provide feedback via the “dial-a-vote” system. The top three priority areas identified are:

  • Education
  • Health
  • Jobs

The recommendations from each group will be summarized and shared with City departments to inform the City-wide RSJI Three Year work plan.

The feedback received was very positive and folks are excited about the opportunities ahead of us.

The next meeting will be in March 2012 (place to be confirmed). Hope to see you there!!!

For more information, please visit the City’s Race and Social Justice Initiative page at: http://www.seattle.gov/rsji/