Building a Center of Belonging
Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, Access (IDEA) Priorities
Community is at the heart of everything we do, and it has been since our founding in 1952. Our community includes everyone who lives or works in the Sonoma Valley, as well as anyone who visits Sonoma or feels drawn to the Sonoma Community Center’s programs.
To honor our status as a community center, we have embarked on a new chapter in our continuous journey to create what we’re calling a “Center of Belonging” for everyone on our campus. Our goal is to create a space where people of all backgrounds – and especially those who have been historically left out by institutions like ours – feel more than just welcome: we want them to feel at home. A community can only be ‘vibrant’ when it sees and embraces the brilliance of each unique individual and every cultural practice that forms part of it. We intend to listen to and honor the brilliance of folks who have experienced marginalization, through community-driven programming that celebrates and represents all the artistic and cultural practices that live here in the Sonoma Valley.
In that pursuit, we realize that the Community Center has unknowingly participated in perpetuating systems of exclusion that have led to certain members of our community not being equally welcome at the Center. Combined with structural inequities and geographical segregation in our region, it’s been harder for some than others to participate in the programs we have to offer. The people who experience barriers to our programs are disproportionately low-income, communities of color, immigrant families, individuals with disabilities, and others who already experience structural disadvantage and marginalization in their daily lives. The Community Center is committed to continuing to uncover the ways in which we as an institution have perpetuated these inequities.
In this new chapter, we are working with an Arts & Equity Consultant to build upon our past learnings and guide us forward as we center principles of inclusion, diversity, equity, and access (IDEA) in all aspects of our work. We do this because everyone should have access to the incredible power of the arts and creativity. We do this because as a community center, we have a responsibility to foster a thriving community – and we know the only way to do that is by recognizing, supporting, and celebrating every single individual for who they are and ensuring that everyone feels like they belong, both on our campus and out in the world.
We have much learning and unlearning to do, and we plan to share this process with you, our community, along the way. We hope you’ll join us in this process so that we can all learn from each other; and we hope you’ll keep us accountable to our commitment.
Equity, Diversity, Inclusion Glossary of Terms – by Pacific University Oregon
In order to create greater understanding of terms used throughout the following document we have provided this resource of carefully researched and thoughtfully discussed key social justice terms and definitions. It is by no means a comprehensive list as equity, diversity, and inclusion terms are ever-expanding and changing, but it is a good place to start.
What We’re Currently Working on (as of August 1, 2022)
This section is meant to be a living document that has been co-authored by the Center’s board, staff, and arts and equity consultant. As our process evolves we will continue to update you, our community, on where we are in hopes that you join us.
We began by surveying our internal team of board/ staff/ volunteers who work closely in pursuit of the Center’s mission and values. We created a voluntary survey to measure internal demographic data, sense of belonging, and wisdom on advancing IDEA (Inclusion, Diversity, Equity,Access) culture and policies. The survey data will be compiled into an assessment report. From this report, the Center will create annual key result areas that guide our organizational transformation. This collected information will be strictly for internal use.
Trainings (for Board & Staff)
Creating Shared Language & Understanding around IDEA ( Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, Access) – In this workshop Board and Staff members will define inclusion, diversity, equity, and access and discuss how they show up in our community and work. We will dive deeper into what those terms mean to us individually and collectively. This will lead us into a conversation around affinity bias and inclusive leadership. Our goal in this workshop will be to create community around IDEA learning.
Review of SCC Staff/ Board Survey Data – In this workshop we will be reviewing and discussing the anonymized, collective responses of the SCC Staff/Board Survey. This workshop will take place after the shared language workshop.
Board Committee Roles & Responsibilities: Create unified guidelines and standard language for IDEA Board Committees roles and responsibilities that is connected to org IDEA statement.
Board Diversity (Continuing Conversation) We will continue to have conversations around visioning what board diversity looks like at SCC and how we want to grow the diversity (in all aspects) of the board. We will continue to investigate what content and implementation methods are needed for an expanded board recruitment process and how that will impact on board policies and procedures.
Equitable Staff Performance Evaluations: We have created a 360 degree end-of-year review process that allows employees to evaluate their own performance as well as that of other Center staff, including their supervisor. Our hope in the creation of this process is to listen and track how we can best support our employees at the Center.
Job Listing: We have amended our job postings by highlighting the WHY behind positions and centering an applicant’s lived and professional experiences, focusing on their strengths. Job postings now include the option to request an amended application/interview process, and many postings are translated into Spanish. In hopes of providing greater access to diverse applicants, we have simplified the application process by expanding our application submission methods and, in many cases, we will no longer require a traditional cover letter.
Program Evaluation Rubric and Lesson Plan Templates: Our process of internal assessment revealed that our programs – classes and events – lacked an overarching collective strategy and guiding principles. This allowed for a lack of boundaries and guidance leading individual staff and visiting artists to create within their own bias. Understanding this, we have created various tools that will help guide the Programs staff in the creation, implementation, and evaluation of content and delivery of programs. These tools center community input, as well as the creative capacity and community objectives of the organization – all of which will hopefully lead to more inclusive programs and teaching strategies.
Sliding Scale Fees: Effective July 1, 2022, inefforts to lower financial access barriers to our programs, the Sonoma Community Center has implemented a sliding scale fee system for all classes. Each class will now offer five payment tiers, and everyone who registers is invited to pick the tier that is right for them. The lower payment tiers help ensure that people of all income levels can participate; the higher tiers help ensure that we can cover the cost of the program for everyone. There are no eligibility requirements for any of the tiers.
Resources for Continued Learning:
It takes all of us, moving together toward greater equity, to create change. We invite you to join us in this journey and encourage you to utilize the below resources so you can participate in learning alongside us.
All resources have been contributed by the Center’s board and staff.
- How to be an Anti-Racist, by Dr. Ibram Kendi
- My Grandmother’s Hands, by Resmaa Menachem
- The New Jim Crow, by Michelle Alexander
- Killing the Black Body, by Dorothy Roberts
- We Are the Land – A History of Native California, by Damon B. Akins, William J. Bauer Jr.
- Let’s Talk About Race (and Other Hard Things), by Nancy Dome
- The Warmth of Other Suns, by Isabel Wilkerson
- Between the World and Me, by Ta Nehisi Coates
- The Sum of Us, by Heather Mcgee
- Emergent Strategy, by Adrienne Maree Brown
- Dictionary for a Better World: Poems, Quotes and Anecdotes from A to Z, by Irene Latham, Charles Waters
- The Humanity Archive
Social Media Accounts: