Our communications team will tell you that writing the ‘newsletter update’ is the hardest task they ever assign to me, mostly because writing something brief is so much harder than writing something long.
From now through the end of the year is often when we gather, feeling gratitude for those we love. In his blog, Kareem Abdul Jabbar described it this way: “Thanksgiving is the start of a month-long celebration of gratitude for those we love and those who love us. And for the whole glorious, improbable idea of selfless love. We always hope that if we cherish this month enough, it will last longer into the year.” We wish that for all of you.
As November 2022 comes to a close, here are a couple of things that are top of mind for me.
- Even though it is from a few years ago, please take a minute to read this piece from Candice Wilson which was in a past newsletter. We had been chatting about what the holidays mean to Indigenous community members, where traditional Thanksgiving is based on a false narrative about turkey and pilgrims and Native people.
- So excited that 29 people from the North Sound region spent time in Phoenix to attend Race Forward’s first conference since 2018! Being in space with 3,000 people, predominately leaders of color, was powerful, inspiring, and also tough. Listening to leaders, especially young and emerging leaders, trans youth, high school students, artists, and others share the ways that they are fighting racist policies and structures filled me with many strategies that we could support here in the region, and having partners together with our team in Phoenix deepened important relationships.
- We just passed the one-year anniversary of flooding that left more than 2,000 families displaced in Whatcom and Skagit counties. Households, where English was not the primary or first language, became our focus for support last fall, and it has continued throughout the year. Resources were accessible to those who could navigate the complexities of EOCs (Emergency Operations Centers), FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency), LTRGs (Long Term Recovery Groups), online website applications, and reporting sites. Our team and community-based partners (who used these same resources during COVID testing and vaccine response), brought people and resources together in Spanish, Mixteco, and other Indigenous languages. We were able to expand our team to include going door-to-door to check on community members in flood-impacted areas. As the weather heads toward wet and cold, those families are definitely top of mind still.
As our team and our partners raise expectations that we will learn ways to become anti-racist, and incorporate that into our actions alongside themes of equity, belonging, and targeted universalism, we must also remember to be kind to each other. To quote one of our partners “there is no blueprint for the work we’re undertaking.” Working across five counties, it’s easy to let our frustration outweigh the power of partnership, and sometimes harder to accept that we need space for learning at all steps along the continuum. We can make this region a space where all feel they belong – and this means focusing in on those who don’t feel that today. That is the heart of our work, intentionally leaning in to support those who are most often left out.
We’re grateful for all you do, and as this year starts to wind down, we appreciate that we are on this journey together. To quote the curriculum guide for Facing Race in Phoenix, “Justice requires action and the time for action is now. For equity. For everyone. Because we are all this together.”