Early this summer, we posted the following in our Solidarity Statement:
In the past, GRuB has been too silent on issues of racial violence both locally and nationally. We need to do more—individually and in community—transforming our systems, assumptions, and practices and centering the leadership and experiences of people of color.
Recently, GRuB staff and board members have been digging deeper into racial equity. We need to become more transparent, proactive, and inclusive, even while we’re making mistakes and figuring out the right words, actions, and pathways. We know this work has to happen both as individuals and as an organization, and we recognize that members of our community have varied experiences of racism, food, and land. We realize this work begins locally and personally, and that each of us has our own inherited history and present experience that we are called to acknowledge, address, and heal.
Here’s some background on our journey—
From our earliest years, GRuB identified diversity and multicultural community as core values and goals to our work. We were also aware that our staff and board composition did not reflect the full cultural, economic, and racial diversity of our community.
We sought out anti-oppression trainings for staff and board and integrated our learning into our programs and operations. We tried to look with fresh eyes at our organizational culture in light of our learnings and people’s experiences.
In 2010, we engaged VISIONS, Inc. for a 3-day training to set common language and a philosophical foundation for our strategic planning process and to bolster our organizational grounding in multicultural guidelines. If you’ve attended a GRuB program, you’ve encountered these guidelines, which have helped us individually and collectively to create safe learning spaces and be accountable to each other as a community.
Equity, race, and community are central topics to our programs and are woven throughout our curriculum and community practices. We seek to engage participants in all of our programs as leaders in breaking cycles of hunger, poverty, inequality, and oppression and have adopted participatory models for program design and leadership, evaluation, governance, and more.
Over 100 people per year attend our Cultivating Community and Leaders programming, including our Roots, Shoots & Fruits series, which provides a setting for adults to practice communication and leadership skills with a focus on food justice and community building.
Alongside these good intentions and transformative experiences for many, we also recognize that there are ways in which GRuB’s programs and practices have had unintended impacts, have perpetuated and continue to perpetuate policies and ideas that have limited people’s access to and power within our organization and in the broader community.
Last fall, our partners from the Intercultural Foundations program at the YWCA in Olympia led us through an Intercultural Development Inventory and guided us in our individual and group learning. This raised our awareness of individual and organizational tendencies to minimize cultural differences. Clearly, we still have work to do, both individually and collectively.
We’ve identified equity as a top priority in our strategic plan, which was adopted in late 2019, and see a role for all members of our community (staff, board, volunteers, participants) to be leaders in this evolution. There’s work to be done in all aspects of our organization’s culture, programs, and operations— from our hiring practices to our board meetings, from our program recruiting to how we engage in partnerships, from curriculum development to program delivery.
Top questions remain: Who has access to and benefits from GRuB programs? Who makes decisions and who is impacted by those decisions?
To help answer these questions and to ensure equity is truly a priority, an ad hoc Equity Committee began meeting regularly a year and a half ago, and we’re now evolving the group as an embedded advisory committee consisting of staff, board members, volunteers, and youth.
We believe it is important to keep you (our community) informed about our intentions, learning, progress, and decisions. In the coming months, we’ll post additional resources, stories, and our plans for accountability and transparency. Stay tuned!