The City of Sequim’s recent discussions on race, equity and inclusion could be the first of many for local residents.
City representatives on Saturday held the municipality’s first virtual community conversations event, with more than 50 participants talking about issues and solutions with the goal of a more inclusive community.
Miriame Cherbib, one of three event moderators, said Saturday that event organizers assume participants were there to “create solutions.”
“We all belong to the Sequim community (and we want to) be ready to learn from other people,” Cherbib said. “Especially people who don’t share the same backgrounds.”
The first Zoom meeting lasted an hour, with a second set for 6 p.m. Tuesday, March 23.
To participate, register through links at the city’s website www.sequimwa.gov or at zoom.us/meeting/register/tJYsc-utrD8pG9IhKFOvI00g8LMwju07OFj4.
Cherbib co-moderated with Vicki Lowe, and Carlos Osorio. The moderators asked four questions:
• How do you feel Sequim is doing as it relates to equity and inclusion?
• What do you envision for our city in 20 years related to equity and inclusion?
• How do we create an even more inclusive city?
• How does our community want to be involved in this work?
Cherbib defined equality as “treating everyone the same” and equity as when people recognize “that we have different resources and needs and that the end goal is for all of us to reach their full potential.”
City officials did not record the meeting; however, themes and comments were written down to share later with participants, other organizations and the city council.
Organizers asked no names or direct quotes from participants be used to create a more open and safe discussion.
Participants were encouraged to continue conversations with friends and neighbors.
Moderators said after the two meetings, themes will be compiled and shared with interested community organizations as city staff determine follow-up methods.
To open the question-and-answer session, some participants said some Sequim residents deny there is a problem with racism despite ongoing discrimination to local tribal members and people of color.
Others said they felt Sequim residents need to better educate children on the area’s history as it relates to local tribes.
Participants also said they felt resources for nonprofit services and mental health services are not readily available.
With the concept of considering what Sequim could look like 20 years from now — in terms of equity and inclusion — participants’ suggestions included: creating better access and awareness to basic needs and services; implementing more diversity/equity in local government leadership; promoting a broader range of people coming to Sequim through affordable housing, and adding more law enforcement training about people from diverse backgrounds.
To promote inclusivity, some participants recommended: celebrating diversity through special events such as the Irrigation Festival Grand Parade; creating more workshops for new people to Sequim on its history; implementing more educational opportunities in schools on local cultures and history; promoting cohesion between newer and older generations, and seeking more involvement from the “everyday person” in the community.
The discussion groups follow a Sequim city council resolution from last June condemning discrimination and racism proposed by city councilor Brandon Janisse. The resolution came on the heels of public comments and a 2,000-plus signature online petition asking the council to condemn systemic racism.
Councilors approved the resolution but asked city staff to wait on re-evaluating city code and practices until community feedback was received, which led to the March 20 and March 23 online discussions.
For more information about the conversations, visit www.sequimwa.gov or call 360-683-4139.