Who are considered marginalized groups?
Marginalized groups are groups of community members who experience racism, oppression, and discrimination. These communities could include Black, Indigenous, and People of Color, immigrants and refugees, individuals who identify as LGBTQ+, and individuals with disabilities.
What can other people - everyone not in marginalized groups - do to support the process?
The new Commission’s main focus is on the needs and interests of historically marginalized groups. However, to be successful, involvement and support from the wider community is essential to the Commission’s success. Majority culture (White) community members can contribute their support by intentionally making space for marginalized community members’ input and by participating and giving input via Engage Olympia and an all-community Community Conversation.
Why are the focus groups invitation-only?
We need to create safe, affirming spaces for people who have fear around participating. Some of our marginalized community members have experienced substantial trauma and understandably may not trust government. In focus groups, the Founding Members Work Group can create welcoming, psychologically safe spaces where those who are most vulnerable can speak openly and honestly. This would not be possible in other settings.
Why aren’t we recording focus groups?
To ensure focus groups remain safe spaces, we will not identify participants as individuals. In sharing their experiences, marginalized community members are entrusting the City with personal stories and deeply-felt needs. The experiences and ideas expressed during focus groups are captured in writing. These notes omit all names and identifying information.
Who is observing the focus groups and why?
City leadership and councilmembers join each focus group as observers only. They keep their cameras and microphones turned off so that they can focus on listening and learning. Focus group participants value their presence. Knowing that decision-makers are listening increases the sense that their inputs are important and will result in actions.
What are we doing with the information gathered from focus groups?
In the short term, City staff and leadership are reviewing focus group notes to identify potential action items that are operational—actions that don’t need to wait for policy or budgetary changes.
In the longer-term, the Founding Members Work Group, consultants and City staff will compile and synthesize inputs from the focus groups and all other sources. They will summarize results in recommendations to City Council, including the Commission’s first-year work plan.
What is Council’s role? How are they supporting the process?
First, Council set the process in motion; they directed to formation of the Commission with a process led by people of color and centering marginalized community members. Then they stepped back to let the community host and engage the process, focusing on listening and learning. Each of them is doing their own work to build their anti-bias skills. Finally, when the process is complete, Council will appoint the Commission members as an advisory body.
Individually and collectively, Council expresses a strong commitment to the process and supporting the future Commission.
Will the Founding Members automatically be appointed to the Commission?
No. Commission appointments have a separate application process that will be open to the community and following the usual process for applications to a Council-appointed Board or Commission. Given the high quality of leadership and integrity shown by the founding members, they would be excellent candidates and, if appointed, would provide valuable continuity to the effort.
How are we keeping people informed?
We are keeping people informed on many channels. These include the DEI newsletter, Engage Olympia, social media posting, the City’s DEI webpage, presentations and educational materials for Council and articles for the staff intranet. Focus group participants may sign up for updates directly from City staff.
How do I share my ideas if I can’t attend the focus groups?
Start with Engage Olympia: in this platform, you can share ideas and submit answers to a survey. Also, you may attend the all-community conversation on May 22, 2021. To share longer-form input, you may send emails directly to Olivia Salazar de Breaux. She will remove identifiable information from your message and add your input to the data compilation.