One World One Family Newsletter
Summer is underway. Let’s get caught up and see what needs watching.
PLEASE note the special meeting at the end of the Pride section!
JUNE and PRIDE MONTH
– We have a number of important news items under this topic!
Pride Parade The month started in a positive way. The annual Pride parade and picnic had good participation and a glorious day. Lots of flags and wearing of the colors. OWOF provided Progress Pride flag pins that we’ll have available throughout the year.
Pride month also brought a painful community “discourse” on Pride started by two current teachers at Chelsea High School. They represented very opposed views on Pride and our LGBTQ friends and family. From our social justice viewpoint, the attitudes expressed in the first letter by a teacher engaged with young people was horrifying. While it was well-countered by eloquent letters, we should have no illusions that harmful attitudes are alive and well. One letter was from a recent graduate and made clear the effect of these anti-gay attitudes on students. The high school, as she said, barely tolerates its LGBTQ youth and is certainly not welcoming.
If you haven’t read these letters, please take a minute.
To round out the month, a pride banner prominently displayed at a local church on Old US 12 was slashed. The banner is mounted above a normal standing height so the defacing was planned and deliberate. This definitely represents an escalation in the visible anti-gay sentiment in our town. This cannot be dismissed as Friday-night pranks as the flag thefts from homes have been. This incident has been reported to the police and there are no further details at this point. The church is shocked and dismayed by this action and is determining how it wants to proceed. Its support of the LGBTQ community is not changing. They have sent a strong letter to the public!
Read it here.
Adhoc Pride Action group is forming
A small group from different parts of the community met to consider the incident at the church. It was resolved to create a group to formulate a community response and to address the attitudes in town in a more directed way than has been in the past.
A first meeting of this group is Monday, July 3 at 9.30am.
PLEASE CONSIDER JOINING
For location, please send an email to email@example.com. OWOF will support this group and lend whatever resources we can, but this will be a broader community action.
If you aren’t able to help plan at this time, PLEASE display your pride flags! As a friend recently said on seeing pride flags all over a city he visited:
“I cannot overstate the importance of intentional, overt expressions of welcome.”
Finally, this might be a good time to further educate ourselves. Here are some links to help you build your understanding.
History of Pride Month – https://www.history.com/topics/gay-rights/pride-month
Understanding Gender identity and Pronouns – https://www.npr.org/2021/06/02/996319297/gender-identity-pronouns-expression-guide-lgbtq
Understanding Sexual Orientation and Gender – https://youth.gov/youth-topics/lgbt
LGBTQ: The basics (with videos) – https://www.liberties.eu/en/stories/what-does-lgbt-mean/44446
Policing Reform drawing controversy
Background: The Strategic Planning Group (SPG) was established in the fall of 2022. The predecessor to this group – the Public Safety Task Force – was established the year before in Dec 2021 as the first step toward defining police reform. After multiple meetings, they recommended that a smaller planning group be created to help address the items raised in the various police audits (Bobcat Report) and to help create a strategic plan for the police department in light of these needed reforms. The Task Force also recommended that the new smaller group use a trained facilitator to help them focus their work. After publicizing the openings and receiving applications, the City Council appointed the 5-member SPG. There were no decisions on members required – only five applications were received.The new Police Chief, Kevin Kazyak,is an active member.
The above is to highlight that this has been an on-going p rocess with publicized meetings and reports in local media. We’ve covered it in this newsletter. This group has suddenly drawn the ire of our local opposition, a small but very vocal group. It started when a document summarizing the comments from the public at a townhall meeting was “leaked” as representing the thoughts of the SPG. The correction that these were only comments from the public had to be made several times without much success.. Some charged that the SPG was meeting in secret and not representative of the community. The SPG meetings were seriously disrupted on two occasions by this group. The SPG has patiently addressed the new concerns and has tried to stay on track. They recently expanded their efforts to gain community input by Farmers Market and Sounds&Sights appearances. They are now evaluating whether a survey is possible under their time frame.
Please consider coming to the SPG meetings to observe. Public comment is before the meetings in keeping with other City commissions. This group has been working hard and this recent barrage of criticism has been very discouraging. Their goal is and always has been to create a plan to build a modern, stronger, community-focused Chelsea PD. Next meeting is July 12 at 2pm. Location TBD. firstname.lastname@example.org for update.
Anti gun-violence/gun-safety awareness rally #wearorange
The beginning of June also saw a rally to promote gun safety awareness and to end gun violence. The City of Chelsea proclaimed Friday, June 2 as End Gun Violence Awareness Day in keeping with the national call for action on gun safety. The rally was well-attended. US Representative Debbie Dingell spoke to the group. Postcards to elected officials demanding action were available to send and the Chelsea Police Dept participated by providing information and gun safety locks. (These locks are always available at the police dept free of charge.) Chief Kazyak attended and spoke with many of the participants. OWOF members tied orange ribbons on all the light poles downtown. This generated questions from passers-by and brought attention to the rally and the issue. (As good citizens, we removed the ribbons as well.)
For the first time, the Chelsea City Council designated
June 19th as Juneteenth Freedom Day in Chelsea.
This day was first declared a national holiday in 2021 and a Michigan holiday last year. One event is coming up on August 13 that could enrich our understanding of the impact of slavery in our area. The African American Cultural and Historical Museum of Washtenaw County is offering an Underground Railroad bus tour. “Two essential routes to Detroit and ultimate safety in Canada crossed in Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti. Discover the role Washtenaw County played and hear some powerful stories about places you pass by every day on a Journey to Freedom”.
Museum website to register
DEI still matters
Finally, on June’s theme of equal citizenship and opportunity, Diversity, Equity & Inclusion was high on the agenda at the Mackinac Island Policy Conference of Michigan political and business leaders. From an MLive article: The conference’s theme was stylized as “the power of &,” mostly left up to guests to freely interpret….There was a panel on “inclusive policymaking” and another on increasing equity through “mobile solutions” and a third on where the goals of business and equity intersect. That was three panels, up from one the year prior.
And for the first time, on June 1 the chamber arranged for one of the four U.S. flags on the Grand Hotel’s famous porch to be swapped out for a progress pride flag.
Billionaire businessman Mark Cuban, who owns the Dallas Mavericks, made some news of his own on the topic. “Call me woke — you don’t need to call it DEI, you can call it whatever you want — I call it good business,” Cuban said during an on-stage interview. “It means taking the people that you’re selling to and making sure your workforce looks like them, and making sure you can reflect their values and being able to connect to that. That’s what works for me.”
Please remember to check the OWOF Facebook page!
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Otherwise, go to our website. You can see our Facebook posts there.
Have a good summer. We’ll try to have a general meeting in late August.
Thank you for your time. Stay engaged!
Your OWOF Team