Letter: Diversity committee is needed now more than ever

Posted 1/13/21

Last fall, the Bristol Town Council considered a petition to create a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee that would ensure Bristol is welcoming and inclusive for all who live, work, learn or …

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Letter: Diversity committee is needed now more than ever

Posted

Last fall, the Bristol Town Council considered a petition to create a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee that would ensure Bristol is welcoming and inclusive for all who live, work, learn or visit here. The Council voted unanimously to support the spirit of such a committee and asked the group of resident authors of the petition to work with the Town Solicitor to further detail the committee's structure and charge.

Since that time, we held more than a dozen meetings, drew input from across our community, reviewed the structure of similar committees in at least 10 other municipalities, and met with representatives from five of them.

After countless hours of work, we shared the recommendation with the solicitor, who had no edits, and have now submitted it back to the Council for consideration at their upcoming Jan. 20 meeting (see the full proposal below).

As the shocking events of Jan. 6 have confirmed, there are deep divisions in our country. We believe that a DEI advisory committee, now more than ever, can serve as a valuable resource to our Town Council and Bristol, helping to find solutions to bring Bristolians together through understanding.

We emphatically believe that together, we can find solutions to our differences by calling people in to the conversation, not calling people out. With a membership finally determined by the Council, the ad-hoc committee will serve as requested by our elected officials.

We are proud to have worked on behalf of our community to draft the recommendation that follows. If you believe that this committee can serve our town well, please consider contacting the Council to voice your opinion.

Rob Hancock

Amanda Esons

Aradhana Mehta

Bill Bullard

Bradley Wester

Donna Celone

Jamie Brooks

Joel Huval

Lindsey Flanagan

Lindsey Gumb

Madeline Crowell

MaryKae Wright

Mel Bynum

Melissa Donahue

Paul Mancieri

Renee Soto

Roberto Phillippe

Selahattin Sep

Sandi Andersen

Bristol

 

Proposed Mission Statement, Charge, and Composition

Bristol Committee on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion:

MISSION

The Bristol Committee on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion works to promote, foster, and

celebrate Bristol as a diverse, welcoming, and inclusive community for people to live, work,

learn and visit, including those who experience discrimination or marginalization due to their

race, ethnicity, national origin, religious beliefs, gender identity, disability, age, sexual

orientation, or socioeconomic status.

CHARGE

The Bristol Town Council charges the Bristol Committee on Diversity Equity and Inclusion with

assisting the Council in creating opportunities and assisting in identifying and addressing

matters at the local level. The committee primarily takes the following two approaches to

advocate for diversity, equity, and inclusion in Bristol.

1. Promote, support, nurture, and celebrate a diverse, welcoming, and inclusive community:

● Collaborate with public and private organizations in town to expand and promote

opportunities for programs, festivals, events, activities, and civic engagement that

highlight and celebrate Bristol's diversity. Include opportunities that highlight

underrepresented groups within the community.

● Support and promote both existing and new opportunities to address and understand

Bristol's role in the fate of Indigenous people in New England and the trading of

Enslaved people in America.

● Help create opportunities for difficult conversations that support learning and

understanding among community members.

● Foster a welcoming and aware community by creating networks, conducting outreach,

and establishing platforms to amplify underrepresented voices and promote them through

information sharing equitable access to existing resources, programs, and opportunities

for all residents.

2. Upon request by an elected official, provide advice on inclusive and equitable policies and

initiatives, to include but not limited to:

● Creating accessible and transparent processes for assessing and gauging the needs

and interests of the community concerning diversity, equity, and inclusion.

● Identifying education/training opportunities and resources for Town officials and staff

to help eliminate unconscious or implicit bias in programs, policies, and actions.

● Reviewing existing policies or drafting new procedures to ensure that all who live in,

work in, learn in, or visit Bristol feel welcome and included here.

COMMITTEE COMPOSITION

The Town Council will name a committee which shall consist of an odd number of members

between 9 and 15 residents, who will elect a Chair and a Vice-Chair. Committee members must

possess relevant knowledge, training, or life experience with diversity, equity, and inclusion

issues. Members should be committed to thoughtful and constructive dialogue. All committee

members shall serve an initial term of one year.

The committee shall ideally include some members from organizations within the community

such as those involved in social services, education (including students), library, health,

housing, public safety.

Residents interested in participating shall submit an application outlining their interest and

qualifications for consideration by the Council.

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