What we mean by ‘Equity in Participation’
In order to ensure that all voices are getting to the conversation, we need to investigate what is preventing people from showing up to begin with.
Equity in Participation is not just about saying that events are “open to everyone” or meeting schedules are posted publicly. 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 projects where everyone in the community feels welcome or connected, like childcare, transportation, and language interpretation to name a few.
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.
How we see grassroots groups putting this into practice
Groups are prioritizing engagement of traditionally marginalized community groups.
This requires groups to do their homework to understand the nuances and complexity of their community’s identity. Oftentimes, the dominant narrative of a community identity is not as accurate as we might find. For example, we find white-led groups, even in northern New England communities, are surprised when they take a moment to look at racial demographic data.
However, we do not just mean racial diversity when discussing this Guiding Practice. Low socioeconomic status, differently abled and other intersectional identities are often invisibilized in community organizing strictly as a result of how a group chooses to organize.
Groups are working to understand barriers to participation in their work.
Groups are seeking to understand the barriers to participation that are unique to their stakeholders and work those into program design.
Groups consider language accessibility and offer multilingual outreach and materials as needed. Groups may offer stipends and compensation to honor participation of marginalized community members that may not be able to participate otherwise, or may be re-experiencing trauma by participating and sharing their lived experience. Groups consider transportation support and physical accessibility of group spaces such as public transit lines, elevators, ADA compliant meeting spaces. Meals and childcare are offered during meetings. These examples are not exhaustive.