In order to ensure that all voices are getting to the table, we need to investigate what is preventing people from showing up to begin with.
Equity in Participation is not just about saying that meetings are “open to everyone.” We know that there are many barriers to participation that extend beyond closed meetings. This Guiding Practice asks us to consider what we can do to create spaces and project where everyone in the community feels welcome or connected. If we gave ourselves permission to head back to the drawing board and reevaluate our methods, we might realize we haven’t asked what the community’s needs are to attend an event - childcare, transportation, and interpretation being just a few examples. Or, perhaps we’d realize there is more work to be done in reconsidering how we gather community members to be a part of a process and set priorities together, before moving ahead with a project or agenda.
This requires ongoing self-reflection on a group's own process and activities, as well as the initiative to ask for ongoing public feedback and input on how to make events and gatherings more open.
If we can see this mindset shift as an opportunity - to engage more people, to listen deeply, to be responsive to our community, to follow the leadership of the voices that we have long hoped would show up to participate - then we might have a chance at building the just and resilient communities that we need.
This Summer & Fall we are developing the Guiding Practices by defining specific actions and protocols alongside grassroots organizers. Make sure to sign up to our newsletter below to stay tuned for updates. Our goal is to support your process and provide ideas and practices that are sourced from our grantees who have grappled with these questions in their own diverse contexts.