“We’re beginning to appreciate that as individuals we have to take ownership of our learning. When we silently join others in removing ourselves from the conversation about our community, the collective impact of that silence can amount to something that can be harmful.” – Brian Cook of Groundswell Change, a Colorado based organization that assists organizations in diversity, equity, and inclusion training
I am one of approximately 40 people serving on The Quechee Club’s recently formed ad hoc committee on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI). The club has affirmed its commitment that “anyone who lives, works, recreates, or visits the Quechee Club and Quechee Lakes will adhere to our standards of conduct and respect for the individual.”
Events last summer remind us that our bucolic community is not immune to issues of racism, equity, and inclusion and we have chosen to take action as individuals as well as a committee. Our goal is to better understand and recognize what the problems, aspirations, and challenges are within our community and beyond our backyard.
As a first step in our DEI work, the club engaged Groundswell Change, a Colorado based organization that provides DEI training in addition to strategic planning and organizational development support. Brian Cook, founder of Groundswell, initiated a “Listening Tour” over a three-week period in December. Via Zoom, he met with representatives from the club’s leadership team, the Board of Trustees, and the ad hoc committee. Conversations covered members’ perceptions of the challenge, as well as knowledge, motivations, and readiness to engage in racial equity and DEI work. Cook also explored the potential pushback and members’ aspirations for the work.
“A real reckoning has begun to take root in this community,” said Cook. “It’s inspiring to see so many members of the community come together of their own volition to address these issues. Members may not see overt discrimination, bigotry, or prejudice – which can often turn peoples’ stomachs – but they have come to realize the gravity and nature of harm, even at the smallest level. When it comes to symbols or simple communications, these can all have an impact and be amplified by historical trends and current events.”
Cook shared perceptions from the listening tour: “most members describe the community as ‘well-meaning’ with good intentions, yet some shared nervousness about ‘getting it wrong.’ Many often struggle to name the harm, and for many who desire to name the harm, there is a high cost of speaking out. The past summer’s pool incident was a perfect case in point. If seen or acknowledged, these types of incidents are usually categorized as a one-off, an anomaly – but to some, that is a harmful minimization of a trend that is simply less visible than words written on a wall.”
He added, “There is also consensus there is not a great deal of overt resistance to visible diversity and inclusion, but there is a sense that bias occurs, and stories are not always being shared.”
These observations and more were shared with the Trustees, executive staff, and committee members with the goal to improve the club’s competency in communications and awareness building in a more proactive, consistent, and visible manner.
A second Trustees session in late January, focused on equity audits and levers for inclusion, and will align with the ad hoc committee’s strategic planning focused on best practices, focus areas, and mission/vision setting. In addition, affinity spaces will be offered as another learning platform and enable more meaningful strategic planning. Affinity spaces are recognized as locations (Zoom calls or Meetups) where groups of people are drawn together because of a common, strong interest or engagement in an activity and allows people to share stories and build relationships in a spirit of vulnerability.
“We’re beginning to appreciate that – as individuals – we have to take ownership of our learning. When we silently join others in removing ourselves from the conversation about our community, the collective impact of that silence can amount to something that can be harmful,” added Cook. “People seem eager to enhance their knowledge and learn from tangible engagement and real-life moments with one goal in mind: everyone belongs.”
For more information contact mailto:mDEI@quecheeclub.com