Welcoming Community: Disability Equity

Working to ensure disability equity can bring numerous benefits to individuals and communities in supporting the wellbeing and full participation in society of disabled persons. As July is recognized as Disability Pride month, we want to challenge you to consider the topic of Disability Equity in this month’s newsletter.  

Our communities become stronger when disabled community members are respected and valued for their contributions, have equitable access to employment, and have the ability to fully access the amenities and opportunities that their communities offer.  

Supporting equitable environments for disabled individuals is a significant factor that can contribute to their potential to achieve success and be fully engaged in the community. Laws such as the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Minnesota Human Right Act require equal access for disabled persons to employment, housing, public accommodations, public services, education, credit and business, but these laws are just the foundational piece to ensuring that disabled persons are supported in fully sharing in their communities. It is essential to listen to the experiences of disabled persons in our communities to learn how create structures that work in the most effective ways. 

Efforts are being undertaken by individuals and groups in northeast Minnesota to promote disability equity and provide every individual within our communities with equitable opportunities to be their full, authentic selves. 

A recognition of past and continuing inequities can help local governments, community members, and organizations advocate for and with disabled community members in the region.  

Welcoming efforts around disability equity might consist of:  

  • Discussing and acting on ways to remove barriers and provide accommodations to support disabled persons living, working, and playing in our communities 
  • Promoting social cohesion and participation from disabled persons in all aspects of community life including positions of decision-making and influence 
  • Ensuring that laws such as the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Minnesota Human Rights Act are prioritized and executed  

Considering disability equity is essential to understanding a more complete picture of equity across the Northland. Visit the Resources to Explore section to learn more about current initiatives and stories around disability equity in the Northland.  

“The ADA was a wonderful achievement. But it was only the tip of the iceberg. You can pass a law but until you can change society’s attitudes, that law won’t mean much.” —Denise Sherer Jacobson 


Continued Learning  

The goal of the Welcoming Community program is to provide continued opportunities for learning and connection related to topics relevant to diversity, equity, and inclusion in our region. In our monthly emails, we highlight a specific equity topic and provide resources related to the monthly theme. 

The theme for the month of July is Disability Equity. When exploring the learnings in the Resources to Explore section, we ask that you consider the following question: 

“In terms of disability equity in northeast Minnesota, where have we come from, where are we now, and what steps do we need to take to reach an equitable future?” 

Resources to Explore 


* * * 

Welcoming Community Advisory Committee


The Welcoming Community Advisory Committee met on July 17, 2023, for their quarterly meeting to advise the work of the Welcoming Community program. The Welcoming Community Advisory Committee was formed in January of 2022 and is comprised of 30 members from a diverse range of racial backgrounds, cultures, and lived experiences across northeast Minnesota.  

In their first year, the committee discussed, drafted, and decided on a vision and charges to guide the work of the committee, served as planners and advisors for the Annual Equity Summit, and were instrumental in planning and providing education for two Inclusion Learning Cohorts. Committee members meet virtually four times a year to hear updates on the Welcoming Community program, engage in discussion around specific topics and initiatives related to the program, and build relationships with one another.  

Read the vision and charges and learn more: Welcoming Community Advisory Committee

If you have any questions about the Welcoming Community Advisory Committee or know of someone who would like to apply to serve on the committee, please contact Welcoming Community Program Coordinator Amber Lewis at alewis@northspan.org.


* * * 

Welcoming: In the News! 

WDIO: Zenith Bookstore mural livens up West Duluth 


* * *  

Welcoming Events Across the Northland


Photo Credit: Jeremy Gardner, Ojibwemowining Digital Arts   

Many initiatives are ongoing to support Welcoming across northeast Minnesota. Listed below are some in-person and digital opportunities to explore and participate in! 

Do you know about a connection opportunity we could highlight in an upcoming newsletter? Submit events to alewis@northspan.org by August 10, 2023.  

Finn Fest
July 26- July 30, 2023
Duluth Entertainment and Convention Center (DECC)
Learn more here 

33rd Anniversary of the ADA
July 26, 2023, 11AM-3PM
Northwood Technical College, Superior, WI
Learn more here 

Family Freedom Center’s Freedom Fridays
July 28, 2023, 4-6PM
The Washington Center, Duluth, MN
Learn more here 

Grand Portage Rendezvous Days
August 11-13
Grand Portage Pow Wow Grounds
Learn more here  

Lake Superior Chapter, Association for Talent Development:
Top 10 Mistakes Leaders Make In Organizational DEI Efforts And Strategies

August 18th, 2023
The College of St. Scholastica, Duluth, MN
Learn more here 

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in the Workplace
Registrations Due August 18, 2023
University of Wisconsin Superior:
Learn more here 

The Duluth Lyceum: “How does the shape of our city shape us?”
August 24, 2023
Duluth Folk School/Dovetail Cafe, Duluth, MN
Learn more here 

Lake Superior Dragon Boat Festival
August 25-26, 2023
Barker’s Island Pavilion, Superior, WI
Learn more here 

Duluth-Superior Pride
August 31-September 4, 2023
Learn more here 

Black Bears and Blueberries Publishing: Indigenous Writers Gathering
September 8-9, 2023
Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College, Cloquet, MN
Learn more here 

Ongoing Events 

Minnesota Council of Non-Profits
Various Events

Learn more here 

MN Dept. of Health: Mental Well-Being and Resilience Learning Community
Learn more here 

Boundary Waters Connect: Hello Neighbor
Learn more here 

Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa: Ke go naa! Language Lessons
Learn more here   

Arrowhead Area Agency on Aging: Classes, Workshops, Trainings 
Learn more here  

Age & Disabilities Odyssey Minnesota: Free Webinar Series 
Learn more here  

Entrepreneur Fund: Stride
Learn more here  

Members Cooperative Credit Union: Financial Education Webinars
Learn more here
Banzai Financial Wellness Library

Minnesota Women’s Press Changemakers Alliance
Learn more here 


* * * 

Invite a Friend  

If you know others in your community who are interested in participating with Welcoming Community programming, please share this post so they can learn more & Click Here to join our email list. 

Contact Northspan’s Welcoming Community Program Coordinator Amber Lewis at alewis@northspan.org with any questions.