The City of Raleigh, North Carolina, first partnered with GARE in 2016 to host racial equity trainings with city leadership staff and elected leaders. The trainings were designed to introduce the concept of equity, help normalize conversations about race, and provide opportunities to learn about ways to incorporate equity into city operations. In addition, elected representatives on city council participated in a half-day equity training session to help understand the historical context of the government’s role in institutional and structural racism and the opportunity for advancing racial equity work.
The city also undertook a number of external “community conversations” in the spring of 2017. The Mayor helped lead these community meetings in different neighborhoods across the city in an effort to bring residents together to talk about important issues the city is facing. In addition, police facilitated face to face conversations in various locations across the community.
Internally, staff have formed a cross-departmental internal equity team to explore how to best organize our work advancing racial equity within the city. As a first step, the City’s internal equity team will be participating in the Urban Sustainability Directors Network (USDN) Equity Leaders Program. This holistic curriculum of webinars, videos, and worksheets will help the City’s team to normalize conversations on race and equity and start our work from a point of common understanding. It will also help the team apply an equity lens to a pilot project with training on how to choosing a good project, communicate about the project and racial equity, apply proven equity tools, and design the project to embed an equity lens in local government practice.
Additionally, a priority area for the City of Raleigh is community outreach. The City aims to make our community outreach for the development of our new Dorothea Dix Park an open and equitable process. In July of 2015, the City of Raleigh and the State of North Carolina completed the closing process for the City’s acquisition of 308 acres of the Dorothea Dix Campus. The purpose of the City’s acquisition of the property is to eventually plan and develop a new destination park. It is rare for a city to have the opportunity to create a destination park of this scale with open space in the middle of a quickly developing city, and the City is dedicated to honoring the rich history of the land and people. The city has welcomed an AmeriCorps VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America) in the spring of 2017 to help with this goal. The AmeriCorps VISTA’s project is specifically to help the City’s Parks, Recreation, and Cultural Resources Department develop an equitable and inclusive engagement process for the Dorothea Dix Park Master Plan.
The City of Raleigh is proud to take on this work, with an intention for structural change, to advance racial equity and the way the city serves the community.
Megan Anderson manages the City of Raleigh’s Office of Sustainability in which the City’s equity initiative is housed. She has an M.B.A. in Sustainable Business Development and a B.S. in Environmental Science and Management. She also holds a number of relevant certifications including Professional and Leadership Development, Community Based Social Marketing and Diversity and Inclusion.
Megan has over 10 years’ experience in sustainable development with a diverse background in several different sustainability realms, including higher education, non-profits, corporate and business, environmental science education, and outdoor wilderness adventure. Some of her favorite memories were the 3 years she spent in Asia and Africa doing sustainable development work throughout several different countries, working with local impoverished village communities to support a sustainable future and livelihood for the communities.