Demand citizen oversight for BPD

UPDATE: Partial victory!

While Bellingham turned out to express outrage at the murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police officers, it’s disappointing that Bellingham Police still lacks a permanent citizen community-led oversight body with a lead role in police accountability.

Instead, the Bellingham Police Department displayed the “blue lives matter” insignia — both desecrating the US flag and implying an alliance with reactionary and white nationalist groups – until the morning of May 31st.

While we appreciate Chief Doll’s willingness to listen the community and find a more inclusive way to honor those who have died serving Bellingham, we still need an independent civilian review board for true accountability.

Take action and demand that Black Lives Matter in Bellingham: contact Mayor Seth Fleetwood MayorsOffice@cob.org and/or (360) 778-8100 and Police Chief David Doll at ddoll@cob.org and/or (360) 778-8600 to make your voice heard.

Feel free to use or modify the draft below.

 

Mayor Fleetwood and Chief Doll,

Recent weeks have been filled with devastating news: on top of the COVID-19 pandemic, police continue to kill black people. 

The most recent death to receive national attention is the police killing of George Floyd as an officer knelt on his neck as he lay handcuffed in a Minneapolis street saying “I can’t breathe.” Mr. Floyd’s last words echo the words of Eric Garner in 2014 when he was killed by the NYPD and understandably provoked a community that never saw justice in the 2016 Minnesota police killing of Philando Castile witnessed and recorded by his partner.

While I am heartened by Chief Doll’s facebook post joining the chorus of law enforcement leaders across the US recognizing the excessive and unnecessary force in the death of Mr. Floyd and his swift action in removing the “Thin Blue Line” insignia from police department signage when community members raised fears about its association with white supremacist groups, we are still concerned about accountability regarding Bellingham Police Department use of force occurrences.  

We appreciate the department’s de-escalation training as well as Chief Doll’s reassurances that the Bellingham Police Department reviews officer use of force at multiple levels, all the examples of review you cite are internal.  True transparency and accountability require citizen participation, not only internal review. Body cameras and sharing statistics monthly and a start but without external oversight, these depend entirely upon the honesty and commitment of leaders. As I think we all recognize, not every leader is honest or committed to justice. This is why Bellingham must have a permanent community-led oversight body that is independent of the police department and fully empowered to investigate complaints and serious injury at the hands of police. 

Many people find it difficult to report police misconduct to the police, especially for those of us who are visible minorities or who have witnessed or experienced less than professional conduct from law enforcement in the past. I hope we all recognize that visible minority members of our community – including but not limited to Black people, First Nations people and LGTQ people – have had [our/their] safety and freedom compromised by systems of oppression that discourage them from interacting with law enforcement.   

Moreover, a permanent community-led oversight body could benefit not only an individual reporting potential misconduct, but also the larger community, the police department, and even elected officials. Potential benefits include:

  1. Complainants are given a place to voice concerns outside of the law enforcement agency.
  2. Oversight can help hold the police or sheriff’s department accountable for officer’s actions. 
  3. Oversight agencies can help improve the quality of the department’s internal investigations of alleged misconduct. 
  4. The community at large can be reassured that discipline is being imposed when appropriate, while also increasing the transparency of the disciplinary process. 
  5. When the oversight agency confirms a complainant’s allegation(s), complainants may feel validated. Similarly, when the oversight agency exonerates the officer, the officer may feel vindicated. 
  6. Oversight agencies can help improve community relations by fostering communication between the community and police agency. 
  7. Oversight agencies can help reduce public concern about high profile incidents. 
  8. Oversight agencies can help increase the public’s understanding of law enforcement policies and procedures. 
  9. Oversight agencies can improve department policies and procedures. Policy recommendations can prevent issues by identifying areas of concern and subsequently offering options to improve policing. 
  10. Oversight agencies can assist a jurisdiction in liability management and reduce the likelihood of costly litigation by identifying problems and proposing corrective measures before a lawsuit is filed.  
  11. By establishing an oversight system, public officials are provided the opportunity to demonstrate their desire for increased police accountability and the need to eliminate misconduct. i

Respectfully, I ask that you both uphold the mission of the Bellingham Police Department, “Committed to Community.”  by establishing a permanent community-led oversight body for the Bellingham Police Department with a lead role in police accountability that includes communities who are disproportionally incarcerated.

Thank you for your time and consideration,

[signed] 

Bellingham resident

 

NOTES: 

i https://www.nacole.org/benefits

 

A photograph of the sign outside the downtown Bellingham Police station that says "Bellingham Police Department". To the left of the words on the sign is the BPD crest and to the right is a circle insignia with a black and white American flag with a blue stripe just below the field of stars.
Above picture taken May 24th, 2020.
A photograph of the downtown Bellingham Police Station sign, which has been removed. Only the blue frame of the sign remains.rem
Above photo taken May 31, 2020.

 

Editor’s note: This action was written by Lee Che Leong.  It origniated as a post in our Facebook group. Join us for more action and discussion facebook.com/groups/RivetersCollective.

Book Recommendations for Kids

Our resident librarian and board member Stephanie curated two children’s book lists “for your socially conscious tiny humans” to help you and the kiddos in your life mark Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Enjoy!

Picture Book Recommendations

Middle Grade & Young Adult Recommendations

 

RC board member Jen tabling at the 22nd annual MLK Jr Human Rights Conference.

Let’s get to work! Jan 2020

RC Endorsements 2020 Needs You!

2020 will be a very important election year. Do you want to help shape Bellingham and Whatcom County ballots, meet candidates, and learn more about local issues? We’re accepting applications for our endorsement committee and we are looking for additional people who can help support the committee

Fill out this form to tell us how you’d like to get involved!

Childcare and food will be provided for all meetings. We can also provide transportation, if needed. Accessibility details will be posted once we have meeting locations confirmed.

Other ways to help include: donating any amount of financial support to this worthy cause, coordinating food and/or providing food for meetings and interviews, assisting with childcare, providing tech support before, during or after interviews, captioning videos, calling candidates to schedule interviews. Want to help in a way that’s not listed? Tell us about it in the form!

 

Empower Happy Hour

Join us for our monthly casual hang out on Wednesday the 15th at 5:30 at Elizabeth Station. Come chat with board members about how to get involved in new committees Riveters Collective is forming for 2020, events and progressive actions, or feel free to just have a drink and enjoy the company of others trying to get stuff done in this crazy political moment.

 

MLK Human Rights Conference

We are honored to be tabling at the 22nd annual Rev Dr Martin Luther King, Jr Human Rights Conference on Saturday the 18th. Find us in the Syre Center Exhibition Hall and come say “Hi!” as you enjoy the sessions.

In the words of the organizers from Whatcom Human Rights Task Force:
Now in its twenty-second year, the Conference provides a space for the community to come together and renew our commitment to the ideals that Dr. King held dear and believed deeply that this country could attain only by working together and acknowledging our shared history: ideals of equity, freedom, and self-determination. The Conference offers a rare opportunity for people of all ages and walks of life to share our stories, lift our voices to call out injustice, and take actions that will help make Dr. King’s ideals reality.”

 

2020 Womxn’s March

Also on Saturday the 18th (it’s a busy day!), we are co-sponsoring the 2020 Womxn’s March along with Planned Parenthood and Indivisible Bellingham. We are happy to provide support to this worthy cause. This year we are marching for a myriad of issues that affect women, femes, and non-binary people, including reproductive rights, immigration, and climate change.  Meet at the Bellingham Courthouse at 11:00 for speakers and then get marching.  Want to volunteer? Sign up here.

Not in Our Community – Post Event Debrief

Event Goals

To respond to acts of hate in Ferndale; to give voice to the pain, struggle, and resilience of minority populations; and to show each other that we are not alone. 

To gather a like-minded Ferndale community in a safe space where experiences, concerns, and ideas can be shared openly and without criticism. 

To generate next steps to share with the larger community that will counter hate, and that will promote a stronger, more resilient, and more caring Ferndale where we take actions that show we value unity, diversity, kindness, and inclusion.

 

Event Reflection

We are grateful that so many neighbors came with open hearts and minds to learn from each other about how to create a more inclusive Ferndale community. People attending expressed that, in general, the above goals were met. The event was beyond capacity, and people shared openly and came up with ideas for next steps. Many attendees expressed that it felt like the beginning of something that should continue on to make countering hate an intentional, continuous process in Ferndale. 

However, we did not reach our goal around providing a safe space for everyone. A silent incident unfolded that violated the safe space and caused immediate distress to one attendee in particular, and to others at their table. As events unfolded, more and more people became aware. There are some things we would do differently before, during, and after such an incident. 

 

What happened? 

The event was well beyond capacity–about 100 in attendance, 25 outside listening through the open door, and another 30 or so turned away. The event began with an introduction denouncing hate, and calling on people to stand together and take positive action when incidents like the one in Ferndale occur. There were several strong speakers, representing diverse perspectives in Ferndale and Whatcom County. All spoke powerfully from their experiences. We then broke into small groups around three questions–what resonated from the speakers, when have we seen or experienced white supremacy in this county, and what next steps could people in Ferndale take to continue working towards a future that values unity and diversity. Discussion was frank and built community bonds.  

About an hour into the meeting, while people were deeply engaged in small group work, Michael, a white person wearing American flag pants and a MAGA hat, who also indicated he was deaf, and his young child entered the event—This was despite a whole group of people talking with them outside, including an ASL interpreter, and telling him that they could not go in because it was beyond capacity. 

Michael immediately sat down near the door next to Denyce, who is black and deaf.  There was a mix of deaf and hearing people at the table. There was an ASL interpreter at the table.  Michael immediately started making racist comments in ASL about black people and gun violence. At one point, he said black people were bad while he pointed to Denyce.  This was very upsetting for her and she got up and left. The whole exchange was very fast paced and the interpreter could not keep up with what was said. The hearing folks at the table were not fully aware of what was being said. One of about 10 peacekeepers at the event then came in from outside and told the aggressor that he needed to leave. It was at that point that several board members became aware of the aggressor’s presence, due to the silent nature of what occurred. The aggressor was surrounded by peacekeepers and escorted outside and away from the door, with an interpreter in the group, and they went through deescalation with him. 

Denyce came back in, eventually.  She was understandably shaken, hurt, and angry. She and others at the table spoke up and told everyone what happened during the whole group share out. Event planners and peacekeepers realized at that point that we all had only parts of the story until Denyce and others filled in all the pieces. Of course, most people were shocked and saddened by what happened in what was meant to have been a safe space. The community of people present attempted to offer comfort to Denyce and console her. 

We wish we had provided even more time for people to speak about and process what happened, and we feel we moved on in the discussion too quickly. We were all in shock.  The incident made it even more obvious to all present, that there is a real need for continued and increased efforts to counter hate with love both locally, and across the County. We apologized profusely to Denyce and others, and met with all the affected individuals at that table at length, listening to feelings and feedback, and offering our support.

Our primary concern is for Denyce. We wish we could rewind time and prevent the harm. Since that is not possible, we have reached out to Denyce at the event and after, apologizing, offering support, and asking if she would like to have a voice here. Here is a response from Denyce. 


Transcript
Denyce asked us to convey that English is not her first language.

“Hello! My name is Denyce Acquah. My sign name is Denyce on my right heart area. The event is called Hate No Home Here. Umm, on Tuesday August 21st at evening in the Ferndale at library. Really what happen was last week Tuesday, ummm lady explain started group and white woman invite me to the table same where I was sit and I joined with them. The white in the group and explain to follow the question on the paper. People had turned until  me. Michael joined with us and two people. Actually one person after me then I expand what my prefer which is Ashanti Monts-Treviska, white supremacist, racism, dismantle. Michael ask the question then Michael said white supremacist, black supremacist then put his finger at to point at me then black shooting, white shooting, black bad. I decided to leave. After meeting, I went to outside. I was cried and in the begin and I was ready to leave somehow.. A person in my way, barrier and try to hug me. I push that person away then the person still continue there and tried hug me again. I push away and I told that person I am leave then that person moved. I went to outside and I was cried and I told Xio what is the fuck there. Xio said come back inside. I was not really calm then that the person  and group discussion, that person got turn then I am next turn, I said and told them where is need their help while Michael said, person watch, interpreter and them white don’t even intervention. All white and I am only one black. I don’t felt safe space. Once a person said and do the intervene and don’t wait until after.”

 

What did we learn from the event and the incident?

We learned that the small group discussions allowed people to get to know each other and share more freely until the event was disrupted. In the whole group share out, there were powerful personal examples shared, and strong ideas about how to move forward. 

At the same time, there were several challenges. The first was that we learned we need to work with the deaf community to plan how to better prepare for disruptions and how to deal with this person in the future. We learned that the aggressor is well known in the deaf community for causing problems. The second challenge was around having more clearly defined roles for the peacekeepers, more practice, and more training for people helping—we have come up with a detailed response and plans for modifications in the future.

 

What did we do prior to the event to consider physical and emotional safety?

Despite having no indication the event might be disrupted, Riveters did our best to plan ahead to prevent any incident. We were aware that, nationally, peaceful events against hate sometimes experience counter protesters and other disruptions. Our event had been featured in several news outlets including The Bellingham Herald and on King5 News, which heightened the profile of the event, and therefore, the need to plan. 

In order to prepare, we took numerous actions. We had several lengthy meetings around safety. We made a detailed safety plan which we all reviewed on the day of the event. We had yellow cards for people to hold up in the discussions if they began to feel concerned.  We recruited several trained peacekeepers as well as observers from the lawyers guild. We closed one entrance and arranged sign-in tables outside the event so that people would need to pass through that area first, before entering. 

We met with the police chief and lieutenant, before the event, and on the evening of the event we met with the officers themselves, in both instances this included asking them to be sensitive around our event to the fact that not all people feel safer when police are present.   We had law enforcement on site, but at a distance, so that people who do not always feel safer around law enforcement officers would be more comfortable, and the officers would still be nearby in case we needed them.  

We had another safety meeting just prior to the event, including board members, peacekeepers, and legal observers, and made sure we all understood the plan. 

As the event itself  began, we addressed with all those who were attending the event, briefly explaining our safety plan and a plan for what we would do if disrupted–attempt to get the person to leave, and if we could not, then disperse the event. 

And yet, our detailed plan failed to prevent a person from entering and doing emotional harm. The fact that we were unable to prevent harm is something we are all still processing. 

 

A final note

We believe the event met its purpose in that it helped unify many of the people of Ferndale and Whatcom County as they countered hate with love. We believe it was important that people took a stand and sent the clear message that white supremacy is unacceptable and cannot go unchallenged. We were heartened to see that so many attended and that people were planning to continue the work. 

At the same time, we take full responsibility for our part in things not going as planned. We will continue to learn and grow from what happened. We will do our best to do better the next time we have a large public event. 

We would like to offer sincere apologies to those harmed, most especially to Denyce, who was targeted.

We would like to share our appreciation of all the Ferndale and Whatcom County attendees who stood up against hate, and who will continue the work. We offer our deep gratitude for the commitment and dedication of the speakers, volunteers, library staff, peacekeepers, legal observers, police officers, and to the local businesses and community members who participated in speaking out against hate and spreading the message about the Not In Our Community event. Thank you to all who supported this event.

 

Sincerely, 

Riveters Collective

 

Not in Our Community!

Earlier this summer, flyers appeared in Ferndale and Bellingham from a white nationalist group.  The Riveters Collective stands together with people in our community who believe in the value of unity and diversity. In light of this recent visible escalation in overt white supremacist activity in Whatcom County, the Riveters Collective is hosting an evening of resilience, love, and inclusion in Ferndale. We invite the community to share experiences, concerns, and ideas. Let’s discuss ways we can promote a stronger, more caring community.  We hope to share results from this meeting here.

Besides what the community brings forward, here are some good resources for fighting hate in all forms and showing that hate has no home here:

Not in Our Town
Not In Our Town is a movement to stop hate, address bullying, and build safe, inclusive communities for all.

Hollaback!
Hollaback! is a global, people-powered movement to end harassment.

Southern Poverty Law Center
“Ten Ways to Fight Hate” community response guide.

Hate Has No Home Here
The Hate Has No Home Here Project promotes just and inclusive communities by encouraging neighbors to declare their homes, schools, businesses, and places of worship to be safe places where everyone is welcome and valued.

Tell Whatcom County Council to support ALL immigrant families

Take Action: Write to Whatcom County Council Members to support the recommendations of the Public Health Advisory Board to the Whatcom County Health Board to support of immigrant families of all statuses.

Feel free to provide any expertise or experiences you have regarding the negative impacts on immigrants or our greater community resulting from the harassment, apprehension, detention, and/or deportation of immigrants.

The council will likely take up the PHAB request at their November 20th meeting, so write your emails before then.

Email addresses (use all email addresses below on your email, so that the email will be part of the public record, and will be sure to reach each individual Council Member in a timely manner):
council@co.whatcom.wa.us
bbrenner@co.whatcom.wa.us
bbuchana@co.whatcom.wa.us
rbrowne@co.whatcom.wa.us
ssidhu@co.whatcom.wa.us
tdonovan@co.whatcom.wa.us
tballew@co.whatcom.wa.us
tbyrd@co.whatcom.wa.us

Source: Whatcom County Public Health Advisory Board: http://www.whatcomcounty.us/572/Public-Health-Advisory-Board

Background: The Public Health Advisory Board (PHAB) met in early October 2018 to review health and safety impacts which recent detentions of undocumented workers are having on immigrants of all statuses and on our community. They also talked about the potential impacts proposed changes to the “public charge” rule (in other words, the Department of Homeland Security seeking to reshape how the federal government defines “public charge”) would have on immigrants and our county.

On November 7, 2018 Public Health Director Regina Delahunt came before the Whatcom County Council Public Works and Health Committee meeting with a request for Council support for immigrant families in Whatcom County. An October 25, 2018 letter had been sent from the Public Health Advisory Board (PHAB) to the Whatcom County Health Board (WCHB) outlining recommendations for creating a resolution and task force focused on support systems and services for families of immigrants of all statuses affected by detention and deportation. The letter also recommended that the WCHB submit comments to the Department of Homeland Security and letters to U.S. Senators and Representatives opposing changes to the “public charge” rule.

Additional Information:
Community to Community Development blog post, “Community Organizing in Response to the August 29, 2018 ICE Raid”: http://www.foodjustice.org/blog/2018/10/26/community-organizing-in-response-to-the-august-29th-ice-raid?fbclid=IwAR2M51PQhAxh9b4cVIOn_fOPDg1BWKappL7kAyMkci2pq-IKlne_HXMerWA

Letter from the PHAB to the WCHB: https://noisywatersnw.files.wordpress.com/2018/11/letter-from-rachel-lucy-screen-shot-2018-11-08-at-6-52-07-pm.png
https://noisywatersnw.files.wordpress.com/2018/11/letter-from-rachel-lucy-screen-shot-2018-11-08-at-6-52-07-pm.png

Copy of the Agenda Bill and attached materials from the PHAB regarding the request for support from County Council for families of immigrants in Whatcom County: http://www.whatcomcounty.us/DocumentCenter/View/37858/ab2018-302?bidId=

Let’s Talk: Book Club

Let's Talk: Stretching Our Edges on Race and Privilege

Book Club

Keep the conversation going by reading So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo.   Local connection- Oluo is a WWU grad!

Two ways to participate

  • Online discussions LIVE NOW.  We decided to host these in a Facebook event within the Riveters Collective group.  If you’re not a member, you can join the group here.  We are intentionally setting this up in a very controlled environment to protect the participation of people of color, and people who lack other kinds of privilege. As we learned at the Let’s Talk event, we all have privilege, some of us have more than others, and we become better accomplices through deep listening to stories. As Gerry said, through Aloha.
  • Traditional, in-person book club group.  This group will be capped at 12 participants and is being facilitated by an RC volunteer.  Email us for more info.

Get the book

Get 15% off when you buy the book at Village Books and tell them you are a part of the “Let’s Talk” book group. Or, check out a copy from the Bellingham Public Library.

Timeline

We haven’t finalized the timeline yet, but we intend to begin reading soon.  For now just get yourself a copy of the book.

Let’s Talk – Stretching Our Edges on Race and Privilege

Let's Talk: Stretching Our Edges on Race and Privilege

DATE AND TIMESun, February 11, 2018, 2:00 PM – 4:30 PM PST  

HOSTS: Co3 Consulting, Cascadia Deaf Nation, Community Food Co-op, and Riveters Collective

KIDS: Kids are invited!  *We may be out of space for kids, I am checking and will update*. We partnered with Children’s CommUNITY of Bellingham to provide relevant kid activities in an adjacent space.  Target age range for these activities is 3-10 years.  Kids of all ages are welcome; we do not want having kids to be a barrier to participation.

FACEBOOK EVENT

Questions?  Send us an email.

Let’s Talk: Stretching Our Edges on Race and Privilege

“What we do not say, what we do not talk about, allows the status quo to continue.”
-Stephanie Wildman, Making Systems of Privilege Visible

Engaging in frank discussions of race and race-based issues is often a delicate task, requiring participants to recognize their status and privileges (or lack thereof) concerning another in a differently situated group. Many people remain ill-equipped with the skills necessary to navigate these encounters constructively. Discussions about race and racism need to be carefully crafted to resonate with people’s own experiences. Race, white supremacy, sexuality, and other aspects of an intersectional analysis may be perceived as too abstract if they are not presented in a manner to which participants can relate and connect.

Let’s Talk is about obtaining the foundational skills to explore better ways to connect with each other by engaging in deep listening and transformative dialogue about issues that divide us. Participants will learn to “see,” talk about, and be self-reflexive about race and racism, power and privilege, which can be both jarring and liberating.

Often, however, this transformation takes time. Nothing bridges the divide between race and culture like informed dialogue that’s grounded in shared understanding.

In the first hour, Gerry Ebalaroza-Tunnell and Ashanti Monts-Treviska will share their stories about race and racism, and power and privilege. Participants will then reflect on their own comfort level when talking about race and distinguish between intent and impact and reflect on what it means to enjoy or have a lack of privilege.

In the second hour, participants we will gather in a talking circle to debrief about what was learned and the takeaways to engage in transformative dialogue. In the last half hour, participants will be introduced to “So You Want to Talk About Race” book club. To continue the dialogue on race and privilege, and perpetuate cohesive communities, participants will be asked to form book club groups with people having a different profile than their own.

SIGN UP TODAY!

ASL interpretation will be provided. Please email us at riveterscollective@gmail.com if you need other accommodations.

For more information on Gerry and Ashanti, below are their very impressive bios. Having the opportunity to get to know them both, I have found that they are fantastic people to have in your life, and like me, you will be better for knowing them.

Gerry Ebalaroza-Tunnell

Gerry Ebalaroza-Tunnell is the founder and mastermind behind Co3 Consulting: Co-Creating Cohesive Communities.

She is a dynamic instructor and facilitator who demonstrates that the best gift we can give ourselves and others is the practice of resilience; our ability to promote positive emotional perceptions and manage our stress-induced reactions.

A certified trainer of the Institute of HeartMath’s Resilience Advantage Program, a graduate from Antioch University’s Masters of Whole Systems Design and currently a Doctoral student in Transformative Studies and Consciousness at the California Institute of Integral Studies, Gerry understands the importance of co-creating change and the dialogue of learning together. She believes that through systemic thinking and daily practice of resilience, we can move towards cultivating an environment of cohesiveness and synchronicity.

To add to her list of credentials, Gerry holds Graduate Certificates in Systems Thinking and Design, Integrated Skills for Sustainable Change, and Permaculture Design.

Ashanti Monts-Treviska

Ashanti Monts-Tréviska is the co-founder and the creative visionary of Cascadia Deaf Nation, a For Profit Social Enterprise of Deaf Black Indigenous People of Color (DBIPOC*) where it focuses on bringing creative solutions to dismantle socio-economic and social injustices through its transformative cooperative model. Ashanti demonstrates that Deafhood is the first step to bringing transformative narratives into co-creating collaborative relationship between Deaf and Hearing communities. Through this understanding, she offers spiritual insights on activism, human connection, the meaning of community, and education, and believes in the creative arts of deep listening and communication to convey the need to transform human connections.

Ashanti holds Master’s degree in Transpersonal Psychology and Certificate in Spiritual Psychology from Sofia University and is currently a Doctoral student in Transformative Studies and Consciousness at the California Institute of Integral Studies. She enjoys coloring mandalas and writing poems as her meditative hobbies. She jogs frequently and is always unpredictable when it comes to her leisure activities.

Ashanti understands that deep change has to start at the individual level before the actual changes reach the community level based on her current transformative activism framework model. She seeks to reframe and transform current reductive worldviews of Deaf people globally.

Let’s Talk! Stretching our Edges on Race and Privilege

Let's Talk: Stretching Our Edges on Race and Privilege

DATE AND TIME: Sun, February 11, 2018, 2:00 PM – 4:30 PM PST  

LOCATION: Bellingham Unitarian Fellowship – Social Hall, 1207 Ellsworth Street, Bellingham, WA 98225

TICKETS: Available by donation; space is limited, so get your tickets early to hold your spot.

KIDS: Kids are welcome.  We are planning relevant activities for kids 3 – 10 years for the adjacent library.  Use your judgement when deciding if bringing your children will be helpful or disruptive to your work.

Hosts: Co3 Consulting, Cascadia Deaf Nation, Community Food Co-op, and Riveters Collective

Let’s Talk: Stretching Our Edges on Race and Privilege

“What we do not say, what we do not talk about, allows the status quo to continue.”
-Stephanie Wildman, Making Systems of Privilege Visible

Engaging in frank discussions of race and race-based issues is often a delicate task, requiring participants to recognize their status and privileges (or lack thereof) concerning another in a differently situated group. Many people remain ill-equipped with the skills necessary to navigate these encounters constructively. Discussions about race and racism need to be carefully crafted to resonate with people’s own experiences. Race, white supremacy, sexuality, and other aspects of an intersectional analysis may be perceived as too abstract if they are not presented in a manner to which participants can relate and connect.

Let’s Talk is about obtaining the foundational skills to explore better ways to connect with each other by engaging in deep listening and transformative dialogue about issues that divide us. Participants will learn to “see,” talk about, and be self-reflexive about race and racism, power and privilege, which can be both jarring and liberating.

Often, however, this transformation takes time. Nothing bridges the divide between race and culture like informed dialogue that’s grounded in shared understanding.

In the first hour, Gerry Ebalaroza-Tunnell and Ashanti Monts-Treviska will share their stories about race and racism, and power and privilege. Participants will then reflect on their own comfort level when talking about race and distinguish between intent and impact and reflect on what it means to enjoy or have a lack of privilege.

In the second hour, participants we will gather in a talking circle to debrief about what was learned and the takeaways to engage in transformative dialogue. In the last half hour, participants will be introduced to “Is Everyone Really Equal?” book club and receive a coupon for the book. To continue the dialogue on race and privilege, and perpetuate cohesive communities, participants will be asked to form book club groups with people having a different profile than their own.

SIGN UP TODAY!

ASL interpretation will be provided. Please email us at riveterscollective@gmail.com if you need other accommodations.

For more information on Gerry and Ashanti, below are their very impressive bios. Having the opportunity to get to know them both, I have found that they are fantastic people to have in your life, and like me, you will be better for knowing them.

Gerry Ebalaroza-Tunnell

Gerry Ebalaroza-Tunnell is the founder and mastermind behind Co3 Consulting: Co-Creating Cohesive Communities.

She is a dynamic instructor and facilitator who demonstrates that the best gift we can give ourselves and others is the practice of resilience; our ability to promote positive emotional perceptions and manage our stress-induced reactions.

A certified trainer of the Institute of HeartMath’s Resilience Advantage Program, a graduate from Antioch University’s Masters of Whole Systems Design and currently a Doctoral student in Transformative Studies and Consciousness at the California Institute of Integral Studies, Gerry understands the importance of co-creating change and the dialogue of learning together. She believes that through systemic thinking and daily practice of resilience, we can move towards cultivating an environment of cohesiveness and synchronicity.

To add to her list of credentials, Gerry holds Graduate Certificates in Systems Thinking and Design, Integrated Skills for Sustainable Change, and Permaculture Design.

Ashanti Monts-Treviska

Ashanti Monts-Tréviska is the co-founder and the creative visionary of Cascadia Deaf Nation, a For Profit Social Enterprise of Deaf Black Indigenous People of Color (DBIPOC*) where it focuses on bringing creative solutions to dismantle socio-economic and social injustices through its transformative cooperative model. Ashanti demonstrates that Deafhood is the first step to bringing transformative narratives into co-creating collaborative relationship between Deaf and Hearing communities. Through this understanding, she offers spiritual insights on activism, human connection, the meaning of community, and education, and believes in the creative arts of deep listening and communication to convey the need to transform human connections.

Ashanti holds Master’s degree in Transpersonal Psychology and Certificate in Spiritual Psychology from Sofia University and is currently a Doctoral student in Transformative Studies and Consciousness at the California Institute of Integral Studies. She enjoys coloring mandalas and writing poems as her meditative hobbies. She jogs frequently and is always unpredictable when it comes to her leisure activities.

Ashanti understands that deep change has to start at the individual level before the actual changes reach the community level based on her current transformative activism framework model. She seeks to reframe and transform current reductive worldviews of Deaf people globally.

Jail Ballot Measure Votes: An Open Letter from the RC

Riveters Collective values a fair and compassionate justice system with decisions informed by data and community process. This is the community’s jail and should reflect our values. Acknowledging that Whatcom County’s existing jail requires upgrades at a minimum, we see an opportunity to implement a bold new vision. We expect and will support our elected officials in casting risky votes toward these ends.

 

We express our gratitude to county council members Todd Donovan, Barry Buchanan and Ken Mann for voting against sending an incomplete and costly jail proposal to the November ballot. The work of the Vera Institute of Justice and the Incarceration and Reduction Task Force is not complete, and while we don’t yet know what size our jail should be, in a recent email regarding the size of the proposed jail Vera wrote, “Using the correct population, one would arrive at a number more than 30 percent smaller.” That underscores a need to wait until the work is complete before developing a plan.

 

We are disappointed that county council member Rud Browne moved to put this costly jail on the ballot, and council members Carl Weimer, Barbara Brenner, and Satpal Sidhu voted in favor. The two council members who invested the most time into finding solutions, Donovan and Buchanan, argued forcefully for waiting and stated clearly that this proposal isn’t ready and will fail again in November. Their hard work was ignored in favor of haste.

 

We are disappointed that city councilmembers Michael Lilliquist, Pinky Vargas, Gene Knutson, Terry Bornemann and Roxanne Murphy voted for the Jail Funding Use Agreement (JFUA). This vote was premature; we expect a  thoughtful, data-driven solution for our justice system. As citizens we are certain you have more power than you believe and wish you would have used your positions to urge the county to find a better approach. Given a choice between joining a poorly-researched project which perpetuates the prison industrial complex or declining to join and pursuing our own solution, we are ready to stand alone. At it’s core, the JFUA is a regressive sales tax that takes up 100-percent of our public safety tax capacity for the next 30 years. We also acknowledge that you each struggled with this decision, and we heard your statements as you voted yes — that you believed this was the best deal you could get for Bellingham in order to put some – albeit limited – funds into diversion programs. We thank city councilmembers April Barker and Dan Hammill for clearly expressing our shared values.

 

This year, Riveters Collective will work to defeat the jail ballot measure and will take pride in our work to find a better, more equitable path for justice in our community. We see better solutions on the horizon:

  • Bail reform so that people are not held in jail simply because they cannot pay
  • Fully funding treatment first, before incarceration
  • Diversion from jail, with incarceration as the last resort for those who are a danger to themselves or others; and
  • A new look at less expensive options for a new or renovated jail.

 

We believe that if we agree to put $110 million into a large jail in Ferndale, plus another $30-million for a sheriff’s office, that there will be insufficient funds for treatment, robust and effective diversion, or for re-entry into the community. Those are the very programs that make us safer. The proposed jail size, potential for expansion, distance from the courthouse, and proximity to Border Patrol are concerns. We will push for a serious look at either a smaller, less expensive jail or renovating our downtown jail.

 

Simply put, we believe that spending 100-percent of our public safety tax capacity for the next 30 years on a jail is not an investment in hope, but instead builds a legacy of despair. We stand ready to work with all of our elected officials on an equitable and comprehensive justice system after this ballot measure fails in November. Our goal will be an equitable, fair and less-costly solution that we can all support with pride.

Signed,

The Riveters Collective Board of Directors

 

***Co-sign our letter below.***

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Receive updates on the "No on the Jail Ballot Measure" campaign.

 

Roxann Kay

Sharon Shewmake

Lisa Van Doren

karen fisher

Maggie Wettergreen

Kathleen Hennessy

Stephen W. Jackson

Jennifer Gruenert

Susan Wood

Bette C Williams

Andronetta Douglass

Jenn Mason

Dena Jensen

Elizabeth Hartsoch

Eowyn Savela

Janet Hosokawa

Sandy Robson

Lisa Citron

Karlee Deatherage

Bert Monroe

Helen E. Moran

Brenda Bentley

Anna Wolff

Elma Burnham

Stephanie Allen

Wendy Courtemanche

Andrew Reding