Committee on Equity for Essex Newsletter September/October 2021
Greg Duggan, Jill Evans, Ron Hoague, Marguerite Ladd, Erin Maguire, Owiso Makuku, Evan Teich
The Committee on Equity for Essex is dedicated to redistributing decision-making, resources, and power into our community to ensure the voices of those who have been historically marginalized are centered. This is an ongoing effort and we continue to seek feedback as we progress. Contact Marguerite Ladd at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Visit the Equity for Essex page.
The committee has highlighted a few stories and updates from our work over the past couple of months.
Out + About
The Village and Town hosted the second annual Out + About celebration on October 2nd and 3rd. This year we added a 3rd venue at along Susie Wilson Rd at The Barnyard, to wrap the multitude of residents on the west side of Essex into the festivities, complementing venues/events at 5 Corners and the Essex town Center. Residents on this side of the Town and Village – some of whom have transportation challenges -- have been historically underserved by easily accessible, proximate event sites. To support this, we engaged Northfield Savings Bank (NSB), who sponsored all of the entertainment for the venue ...as well as providing an additional $1,000 for vouchers, plus merchandise giveaways. Vermont Federal Credit Union (VFCU) has, as well, generously donated $2,500 for additional vouchers for the event. SeaComm sponsored the events at the Essex Town Center. We received multiple local sponsorships for the event and are grateful for all of the businesses that are participating in and/or sponsoring the event, for the benefit of local businesses and residents!
Boards, Committees, and Commissions Stipend Policy
The municipality had recently put into place a stipend policy for all boards, committees and commissions who do not already receive stipends. The Village of Essex Junction and the Town of Essex are committed to providing stipends for everyone appointed or elected to a Board, Commission, or Committee that meets with a routine schedule. Stipends of $50/meeting for volunteers have been budgeted for all above-mentioned BCC members. The purpose of this stipend is to compensate people for their time, as well as offer assistance for childcare, food, transportation, or other needs in order for the volunteers to be able to attend meetings. This policy will take effect in the Village of Essex Junction immediately and in the Town of Essex on January 1st, 2022.
Essex BEST (Building, Equity, Solidarity and Trust
The Safety, Policing and Racial Justice Task Force has a NEW NAME!
After sending out a survey to the group it has been agreed to move forward with the official name of Essex BEST (Building Equity, Solidarity and Trust).
The two subcommittees of Essex BEST; 1) Policing and 2) Municipal Investments in Equity & Representative Leadership, have been meeting throughout the summer and will reconvene as a full group of Essex BEST in the last week of September for three meetings through the fall months.
Representative Leadership Sub-Committee
This sub-committee has been working on two things over the summer
- Planning and holding a Racial Justice picnic on September 26 at Maple Street Park. This effort is a collaboration among several groups working towards equity and justice in Essex and Westford.
- Preparing a set of recommendations and action steps for the Task Force and municipality. This work centers around two key goals
- Draft three-year plan to build administrative, racial & economic equity with yearly revisions
- Build relationships with underrepresented people who then step forward to serve
The policing sub-committee has been meeting with a range of groups who are responsible for public safety in Essex (including the Howard Center, 911, etc.). They are learning about the safety ecosystem and also noticing where some of the partners may have gaps in understanding re equity and racism. The sub-committee us preparing to make recommendations about the future of public safety in Essex
The work that the Essex Police Department along with the Town of Essex and our community partners on the Racial Justice Task force has seen benefits for all involved and brought about changes in the way we conduct our work. Since last Fall, EPD and Town leadership have been meeting regularly with a group of interested citizens and stakeholders with a focus on how to increase public safety for all. Through this work, EPD specifically, through training and our meetings, has learned about the harms done to the BIPOC community in the past by law enforcement and contemporary expectations of public safety. By doing so, we have implemented and updated numerous policies to guide our officers. Topics such as Use of Force, Duty to Intervene, and Limited English-Speaking Persons are just a few of these policies. Budgeting, hiring, and policy making is being done with a consideration of equity and inclusion in mind. Further, we have authorized direct referrals of incidents to Community Outreach (our Howard Center partners) where calls that would have been handled by law enforcement, are diverted to professionals skilled in response to mental health and social issues. In return, EPD has been able to educate the members of the Task Force on budgets, policing procedures, and capabilities to bring a greater understanding of law enforcement mission. Overall, the building of relationships between the Town, the Police Department and citizens has been the greatest outcome.