As October shines a spotlight on National Bullying Prevention Month and National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, this month’s edition of the Welcoming Community newsletter delves into the topic of safety equity. These observances allow us to reflect on the multifaceted nature of safety in our community encompassing not just protection from physical harm, but also from psychological harm. At its core, safety equity means ensuring that every person, regardless of their background or identity, has a right to live their life free from violence or fear.
Safety equity involves recognizing and addressing systemic inequities in our communities that may put certain groups at a higher risk, taking both overt physical threats and more subtle forms of harm into account. While the Northland is home to many close-knit communities, we must acknowledge that safety disparities exist. Some members face heightened threats due to factors such as race, gender, sexual identity, or economic status. This can manifest in many ways, from acts of physical violence to more pervasive threats like social exclusion that affect one’s sense of safety in their community.
Across northeastern Minnesota, concerted efforts are underway to address safety equity. Schools and colleges are championing safety and anti-bullying initiatives, while local advocacy groups seek to expand services and resources for vulnerable populations and foster allyships. Moreover, there has been a heightened focus on raising awareness around the critical issue of missing and murdered Black women and Indigenous women and relatives throughout the region and state.
Further welcoming efforts to address safety equity might include:
- Engaging in community conversations about safety concerns that give everyone, especially marginalized groups, a platform to voice their experiences and suggestions.
- Supporting and promoting local resources like counseling centers, shelters, helplines, and community groups where people can seek assistance or find a safe space.
- Community education and training on topics that promote safety such as bystander intervention, identifying signs of distress, and fostering inclusivity.
Focusing on safety equity is part of a holistic approach to fostering community well-being and equity. Physical protection from violence and ensuring that every individual feels supported and safe is a crucial part of creating a community that is welcoming for all. Read on to learn about the Welcoming Community program’s work with Nonviolent Peaceforce. For more information about resources, initiatives, and stories around safety equity, please visit our ‘Resources to Explore’ section below.
“Peace is not the absence of conflict but the presence of creative alternatives for responding to conflict—alternatives to passive or aggressive responses, alternatives to violence.” –Dorothy Thompson
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 October is Safety Equity. When exploring the learnings in the Resources to Explore section, we ask that you consider the following question:
“In terms of safety 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
* * *
Nonviolent Peaceforce Partnership: Building Safe, Supportive Communities
Northspan’s Welcoming Community program is partnering with international nonprofit Nonviolent Peaceforce to support two rural communities in northeast Minnesota in identifying challenges to safety and de-escalating potential threats of violence. This program is supported by a Bush Foundation grant and will be centered on understanding potential or actual threats of violence in the communities. It will focus on providing community members with trainings that will help them build community safety skills for harm reduction and conflict intervention. The goal is to help community members feel confident in nonviolent techniques to address concerns for safety.
“Our communities along with others across the United States have seen threats of violence related to race, political affiliation, religion, and sexual orientation,” said Welcoming Community Program Manager Amber Lewis. “We want to use a proactive approach to working alongside communities to interrupt and prevent violence. We hope this partnership with Nonviolent Peaceforce will work toward building communities that feel safe, supportive, and welcoming.”
The two communities selected for this work are the Cloquet and Grand Marais areas where programming for the Inclusion Learning Cohorts recently concluded. The foundation provided by the ILCs will be a launch board for the additional skill building provided by this programming. Opportunities to engage in programming are set to begin in early 2024. For more information, contact Amber Lewis at email@example.com.
* * *
Welcoming: In the News!
* * *
Photo Credit: Jeremy Gardner, Ojibwemowining Digital Arts
Welcoming Events Across the Northland
Many initiatives are ongoing to support Welcoming across northeast Minnesota. Listed below are some opportunities to explore and participate in!
Do you know about a connection opportunity we could highlight in an upcoming newsletter? Submit events to firstname.lastname@example.org by November 10th, 2023.
Festival of Trees Twilight Holiday Parade & Fireworks
November 18, 2023
Virginia Community Foundation
Duluth Winter Village 2023
December 2–3, 2023
Duluth Entertainment Convention Center, Duluth, MN
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 email@example.com with any questions.