August 2021: Empathize and Define

Racial Justice Committees

We are hovering in between the Empathize and Define phases of the Liberatory Design Process. More information below: 

Empathize Phase 

We have conducted several empathy interviews and have a few more to go. We also know that committing to empathy needs to be a forever thing, so we are working out how to make sure that interviews are a core part of our practice moving forward. The interviews that have been done so far were enlightening, even when interviewees seemed a bit new to understanding AS220’s work or out of the loop completely. Key takeaways include but are not limited to: 

  • Community members really appreciated being asked to participate in the interviews 
  • Some people reported feeling safe and welcome in a way that maybe was not always the case at AS220 
  • Though their passion was clear, some people seemed to know very little about the RJI or about AS220 altogether
  • Community members are excited about the RJI and want to participate in the future 
  • Some people of color were harmed while being apart of AS220 and feel grateful that we are committing to anti racism in such a meaningful way 

** A major insight that we all feel centered around is that the RJI really needs to first focus on staff needs, namely the BIPoC Demands, and that conflating community needs with staff needs would not be in the best interest of anyone. The best way to serve the community is by ensuring our staff feel whole, committed and engaged, and that they can be a part of AS220 for the long-term. That has always been central to effectively engaging and serving the community.

Throughout this RJI process, we’ve been using “earth work” as a framework to understand how we want + need to care for the Racial Justice Initiative. To help illustrate the insight referenced above, AM. (one of our Moons) said: “Maybe “community needs” are a separate garden altogether.” 

Define Phase 

As a result of the interviews, unpacking the demands and reviewing the data that we collected via the BIPoC Demands survey, our group has chosen to zero in on 6 key Demands; 3 of which are longer term and 3 of which are shorter term in nature (or have immediate steps to take). 

Longer Term Demands/ Goals 

  1. Invest in BIPoC Leadership 
  2. Invest in Equitable Pay 
  3. Restructure the Housing Program 

Shorter Term Demands/ Goals 

  1. Abolish Original Music Policy 
  2. Invest In Anti Racist HR 
  3. Invest In Anti Racist Development 

Next Steps 

We are in the midst of reorganizing committees around specific demands + figuring out how we would like to welcome more staff and hopefully board members to our meetings. Once we are reorged, committees will be using a similar set of questions that will support the groups in moving the work forward.

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