Making Connections in the Community

Hi Friends,
Thank you to those of you who were able to attend our large group meeting last week. It was a great success and we heard helpful things from the Chair of our County Board as well as many attendees about efforts taking place in our community around housing, as well as guidance about where our efforts might be particularly helpful. She encouraged us to show up for County meetings (those who come are not representative of our county), send emails (they read every one), and suggested getting involved in our civic associations since this is currently a primary way the County learns about what the community wants/thinks.
I am particularly excited about the connections people were making with each other at our meeting — the essence of the coalition piece our group hopes to encourage!
I was reminded of an Embrace Race conversation on integrating public schools back in September 2017. You can read the transcript or view the recording here. I think it’s particularly interesting because it has clear steps towards integration as well as a very strong push for including students in the movement, which as we have seen in recent weeks, is a very powerful source of energy and passion.
Shaun King shared his new endeavor, which has great insights into how we can direct our effort and what kind of effort he thinks is most effective for addressing these really difficult challenges.
A member shared Coming to the Table with me, which is a national organization that “provides leadership, resources, and a supportive environment for all who wish to acknowledge and heal wounds from racism that is rooted in the United States’ history of slavery.” They have a national convention in Harrisonburg, Virginia this summer from June 14–17 and there’s a NOVA chapter based in Vienna that meets the second Monday of every month. I’ll share more as I get more connected with the group.
I saw a story in the Washington Post about an event on the Mall on April 4 about Christian groups encouraging their members to confront their own racism. I’ll be curious to see how this takes place. Are any of you planning on attending?
To follow up on our housing discussions, I have two relevant articles for you:
(1) “Who Gets to Live Where, and Why? The Answer May Be Settled By Our Narratives.” by Tiffany Manuel in Shelterforce. She examines public narratives around gentrification and how they create backfire in the discourse about housing issues in communities and how to navigate around them. This is a really great resource as we incorporate housing issues into our educational equality conversations and advocacy.
(2) “Black Homeownership and the American Dream: An Expert Dialogue”in How Housing Matters. This touches on many of the issues facing black homeowners and explores in detail some of the nuances and policies that have affected homeownership ability.
I wanted to remind everyone that the school district is taking feedback on its Strategic Plan again until March 12. Please weigh in on their goals. I wrote in emphasizing addressing equity (in implementation and not just words), supporting our teachers, addressing facilities disparities, and engaging families and communities of color intentionally and adequately. They listen to our feedback, so please use your voice to advocate for those who are not always heard.
Our county is currently taking feedback on its Capital Improvement Plan (which includes funding for schools), so please send them your thoughts.
Please keep sharing about our group and keep making connections with community members about these issues. Our impact is growing and every conversation we have about racism and inequity is a step forward. Keep pushing and lean on us when you grow weary.

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