In December, GARE network members, staff, and partner organizations gathered online for the 2023 GARE Practitioner Celebration, closing out the year with space for practitioners to share their accomplishments with each other and learn more about GARE’s plans for 2024. We kicked off the celebration with a look back at GARE’s 2023 milestones, including recaps of our monthly online programming and larger events like the California Statewide Convening, inaugural Leadership Summit, and November’s membership meeting, Governing for Racial Justice.
It was moving to hear practitioners, who work in a vast array of contexts, reflect on their efforts and triumphs. Their collective work vividly illustrates the innovative ways that jurisdictions are thinking about and operationalizing the GARE Approach. For many, 2023 was a year of getting projects off the ground that were often the result of months, and even years, of strategic planning, fortitude, and persistence. Here are a few of the day’s highlights:
- San Francisco’s Bay Area Rapid Transit District’s (BART) Office of the Independent Police Auditor (OIPA) worked with the BART Police Department (BPD) to remove the term “excited delirium” from BPD’s policy manual and written reports. BPD was the first law enforcement agency in the country to eliminate the term after a report was released that exposed the racist history of “excited delirium” and traced its use by law enforcement and medical examiners to exonerate officers of responsibility in shootings and in-custody deaths.
- Boulder, CO launched employee affinity groups, a Guaranteed Income Pilot Project, and departmental JEDI Teams that completed Departmental Equity Assessments.
- Carrboro, NC adopted its first Race and Equity Action Plan (REAP) and implemented Carrboro in Motion, an event series to build relationships in underserved neighborhoods and offer ways for residents to access and engage with Carrboro’s programs and services.
- Racine Public Library became the first library in the nation and the only location in the state of Wisconsin to host a participatory defense hub, a community organizing model that centers support and intervention for people navigating the criminal legal system, their families, and loved ones.
- Corvallis, OR implemented a DEIA component into its new employee orientation, followed by a required course covering Oregon’s racial history and current workplace racial equity practices. The city is now pivoting to racially equitable community engagement that includes language access and community development.
- Washington’s Thurston County Board of Commissioners unanimously voted to approve the county’s first Racial Equity Action Plan. The plan lays the foundation for assessing current policies and practices and engaging the community on equity issues.
- NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene hired the first post-pandemic permanent director for the agency’s equity initiative, created new paid equity staff positions, and completed all-staff surveys to measure cultural change within the agency.
- Carlsbad, CA achieved 24 of its 36 DEI work plan goals, celebrated municipal proclamations for Juneteenth and César Chavez Day, launched citywide DEI surveys and equity workshops, and expanded outreach and support in hiring processes.
In addition to the practitioners who joined the celebration, we want to uplift those who shared their wins via our submission form:
- District of Columbia – Hosted 21 racial equity trainings for District staff, completed the Equitable Race and Ethnicity Data Guidebook and released its first racial equity plan for public comment.
- Santa Monica, CA – Launched a $500 grant program for community members interested in hosting listening sessions focused on equity to inform the development of the city’s equity plan.
- Strategic Growth Council (SGC). State of California – Achieved numerous equity milestones across multiple state agencies, including new positions for Tribal Affairs, Equity, and Environmental Justice at the California Natural Resources Agency, as well as implementing racial equity approaches across every facet of SGC’s programmatic work.
- Adams County, CO – Received chapter recognition from Local Government Hispanic Network (LGHN) to establish Juntos Colorado and is engaging in community outreach to gather input on priority areas.
- Atlanta Beltline, GA – Launched strategies to stabilize, preserve, and create affordable spaces for legacy, small, local, and Minority Business Enterprises.
- Anne Arundel County, MD – Passed the county’s first language access law, completed a countywide EDI assessment to inform priority initiatives, and organized equity trainings and programming for county employees.
- Hamilton County, OH – Launched a new initiative called “Hamilton County: A Call to Action.”
- Allegheny County Department of Human Services, PA – initiated 3-year contracts with racial equity trainers for staff training, established a Racial Equity Speaker series, launched a community engagement platform to gather input on priority issues, and expanded “State of” addresses to include equity.
- City of Philadelphia, PA – Launched a Racial Equity Community of Practice for city employees and the city’s first racial equity strategy dashboard.
- Myrtle Beach, SC – Received a Cultural Diversity Award from the National League of Cities for its DEI initiatives and was ranked as South Carolina’s Most Inclusive City by the Human Rights Campaign. The city also unanimously passed a resolution urging the state of South Carolina to pass and adopt a Hate Crimes bill.
- Chittenden County, VT – Developed an organizational Equity Statement, and is organizing a Regional Equity Convening for municipal government, school districts, and community stakeholders to collaborate on equity efforts.
- Port of Seattle, WA – Passed its first Equity Policy Directive that sets departmental and budgetary equity goals, equity training for employees, and commitments to community–based programs. The port also expanded career and work opportunities with the adoption of a Language Access Policy.
Finally, we want to offer a glimpse of what next year has in store. GARE’s 2024 programmatic framework, “Transformational Change for a Just Multiracial Democracy,” will dig deeper into the GARE approach and the multifaceted nature of this work. Our monthly conversations will begin by tackling the intersections of authority, policing, and governance, and our upcoming in-person convenings – the 2024 Southern Regional Meeting and the 2024 GARE Membership Meeting – will foster the connections and relationships that are key to making enduring transformational change.
We have the deepest appreciation for everyone who worked to make these wins possible and are eager to take the next steps with GARE jurisdictions in our journey to advance racial equity. In closing out the joyous event, GARE Deputy Director of Network Strategies, Marsha Guthrie, reminded us, “We are GARE because you are GARE.”