To the editor,
Monona had a flashlight shown on the issues of inequality, justice, racism and racial bias that exists in our community and country with a June 2 incident involving our police. Since that time, our police department, other city staff, city citizen-based committees and elected officials have been both acting and codifying longer-term commitments to address these issues, and not just in our policing. I’ve been pleased to be involved and I’m encouraged by the work to date. For more information about those commitments, please go to www.mymonona.com.
That being said, at the organized protest walk on June 6, I spoke to the importance of our work being inclusive of our entire community, of the work being done with community members – not just on their behalf. All voices need to be at the table and providing leadership.
In that spirit, I write to advocate for a proposal offered by fellow resident Josh Peterson – that Monona create a permanent, new Truth and Reconciliation Commission, a multicultural and multigenerational body – a force for change – to lead us in the work. As a consultant in change management for organizations, I know how hard it is to effect cultural change, to change the status quo. This is a status quo 200-plus years in the making that can’t be allowed to stand. It’s not a “new world” or a “generational thing” – it is our white privileged and powered world laid bare.
Every system and process is built to maintain the status quo. Nearly every person is hired to enforce it. If you’re making widgets, that’s a good thing – you need consistency. But our strengths can also be our Achilles heel. And change happens only/first, by having the right folks to champion the change and a consistent, long-term commitment and investment to embrace their wisdom and leadership.
More generally, I'm seeing this commission’s charge as:
– Leading a systematic, municipal-wide review, redevelopment and monitoring of our policies, practices, education and training to ensure justice, equity, diversity and inclusion in everything we do.
– Leading, planning and vetting community-based proposals to educate and engage all of Monona (the municipality, the business community, residents and visitors) on those same issues.
Josh’s proposal also included a generous offer from his employer, American Family Insurance, in support this work. AmFam made a corporate commitment to social equity reform several years ago. That they are offering their vast network of both human and fiscal resources in support of both the creation of this commission and the implementation of its work is extraordinary. With their assistance and all voices at the table, Monona can lead locally and by example, nationally. It would be folly not to take them up on their offer.
Thank you to Josh and to American Family Insurance.
I welcome any and all feedback from community members on the value of the proposal – let’s build on it! I also urge all of Monona to join me in advocating for this commission and for the support from American Family Insurance to ensure we apply the commission’s leadership and recommendations with vigor.