And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.              Anais Nin                                                     

As individuals, as a community and as a nation, our frustration and anxiety seem to be at an all-time high.  The convergence of Covid-19, Shelter-In-Place orders, economic uncertainty with job losses and business failures, political tensions, and the overlay of much-needed social reform to address racism and police use of force are major events pushing us out of our comfort zones.  Differing opinions on these topics cause divides in families, with co-workers, in communities, and between our leaders.  Honest self-reflection and education are necessary to engage the scale of change that must take place.  Can we bring compassion and caring about the welfare of others to the top of our own awareness? Can we soften the impact of so much change on one another with this compassion?  Can compassion and understanding aid us in creating the transformation that is called for?

The Sonoma County Alliance became a focal point of Social Justice conversations with unintentional offense caused by our June 26th President’s message.

I have stepped into an interim leadership role believing the Alliance can make the necessary adjustments and become one part of the solution.  I believe in the core mission of the Sonoma County Alliance:  Healthy Economy.  Healthy Environment.  Healthy Community.  The Alliance has played an important role in affecting policy that raises the bar on these three important pillars of Sonoma County life.  And there is much work to be done on all three fronts.

I have spent the past weeks in deep reflection, reading everything I can about structural racism and unconscious bias, as well as listening to others with an open heart and mind.  As a human being, I have grown and learned about the depth of pain and emotion felt by members of our own community as well as the nation.  I have learned that unintentional and unconscious bias exists everywhere.  I believe we each need to be educated further on the topic of social justice in order to engage effectively in advancing equity.

The Alliance is learning the power and importance of our words.  We have worked hard for the past 3 weeks to create alignment on our Board so we can listen and learn.  We believe we have a responsibility to create an environment that challenges assumptions and respects diverse perspectives.  Each member of the Board has begun their own educational journey.  We have a Board training scheduled and will be conducting listening sessions to engage our members in this important conversation.  We have begun the work to revise our organizational structure to better reflect the make-up of Sonoma County.  Diversity, Equity and Inclusion must be our goal to ensure all feel included and welcome.  Following our own work, we can begin to educate our members and community because equal opportunity and equity are fundamental to a Healthy Community.

I believe it is time for this self-reflection in every organization, in every business, with every leader and with every one of us individually.  This is an exciting opportunity to make important structural changes and increase awareness to create more inclusive and effective organizations which will create a more just society.  Please join us in this on-going journey.  Thank you for your membership and continued support of the Sonoma County Alliance.

Marlene

Freedom is the continuous action we all must take, and each generation must do its part to create an even more fair, more just society.                                   Across That Bridge John Lewis