News Flash

Equity for Essex

Posted on: January 11, 2021

Update - January 2021

Shared Vision

We are writing with a full summary of the Racial Equity work that has happened in Essex, since we embarked on a process of listening, learning and action planning among community members, police and municipal leaders in August 2020. Here is where we are right now. The work has been in partnership with Sue McCormack and Tabitha Moore of Creative Discourse.

  1. We engaged 600 people in an initial survey, 58 community members in a series of four listening sessions, and 203 respondents in a second survey. Of the 261 residents who participated in the listening sessions and second survey, 64 identified themselves as BIPOC. BIPOC participants were overrepresented in this process (with 22% of participants identifying as BIPOC, compared with BIPOC making up about 8% of the Essex population). It is important to have overrepresentation of marginalized voices when addressing issues where the marginalized group is often disproportionately impacted. 
  2. Creative Discourse led three day long racial justice learning sessions at the Essex Police Department. All full and part time EPD staff and sworn officers attended one of the sessions.  Creative Discourse also led a three-session racial justice learning series for Essex municipal and school board members, department heads and municipal staff.
  3. We formed a Safety, Policing and Racial Justice collaborative planning team of almost thirty youth and adults, including community members, police officers, and school and municipal officials who expressed interest in being involved during the Fall.  Two meetings were held with the planning team, on 12/9/20 and 12/16/20, where the results of surveys and Listening Sessions were shared and discussed.
  4. Planning is underway to reconvene the Safety, Policing and Racial Justice collaborative planning team for a half day retreat in February to revisit priorities they’ve identified (based on community input) and create a plan of action to address those priorities.

Following are some of the outcomes we have seen because of our work so far.

  1. The listening sessions led to a community BIPOC communication/support channel.
  2. There is increased understanding across municipal leadership and EPD about issues related to racism, diversity and equity. Participants also report increased confidence to address issues related to racism and inequities following the sessions.
  3. We have strengthened relationships and created new relationships and connections across municipal departments and EWSD.  There are weekly meetings devoted to discussion and planning related to racial equity across Essex.
  4. We have developed a baseline understanding of community vision, experiences, and ideas related to safety, policing, and racial justice in Essex.
  5. Evan Teich, the Essex unified manager, is developing a set of high-level draft equity goals for the municipality.
  6. We are beginning to build shared vision for equity among community member and municipal leaders.

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