Updated: Oct 30, 2022
Governing for Equity: Implementing an Equity Lens in Takoma Park
Like many families in Takoma Park, mine is a mix of race and gender identities. However, I still have so much to learn about how to see things through a social justice lens and make equitable decisions. Many of us may also need to learn how to see things through a climate change lens which exacerbates all of the divides we already experience.
At the present time, I've been told that there is no formal rubric nor metrics used by the current city council for measuring either, that it's subjective. The new city council will need to make sure we use the same language and definitions to minimize misunderstanding and support good decision making. And choose methodologies fitting to Takoma Park.
No single metric can adequately address the complex issues of equity and integrity central to international agreement on climate change mitigation. Development of a common, consistent, and credible set of indicators should be prioritized to build the foundation of trust and transparency needed to underpin multifaceted commitments. Harvard Project on Intl Climate Agreements.
For example, there are procedures other local governments have used to ensure equity and we can see what we can learn from their experience. The ICMA has several case studies from cities including Austin, Alexandria, Boulder, Dallas, Ft. Collins, Grand Rapids and San Antonio. Takoma Park is not listed, but ironically our equity steps are on the banner of their website. Perhaps by using their guidelines, or another's, Takoma Park's name will be highlighted next to our steps* as a model in the future.
What's in our city government's tool kit?
More and more tools are being created to help employers and local governments create and maintain an equitable workplace or community. An example is a Workhuman tool called Inclusion Advisor which is integrated into another tool 'which encourages employees—whether peers or managers—to thank and reward each other for a job well done. This AI-fueled micro-coach suggests how people can use more inclusive language and mitigate implicit bias.' Please let me know if you know of other tools.
And then there are our commonly held cognitive biases, which transcend race and gender, and can affect our critical thinking, verbal responses and actions. A few examples which could have or will affect my, your, our or city council decisions include:
Sunk cost fallacy: We irrationally cling to things that have already cost us something. When we invest our time, money or emotion into something, it hurts to let it go. We need to ask ourselves "If we had not already invested in X, would we still throw good money after bad?"
Tu quoque: We avoid having to engage with even constructive criticism by turning it back on the accuser. We must answer criticism with objective facts, not more criticism.
Bandwagon: We must be willing to look at our decision making and see if we are merely appealing to popular opinion or hoping for personal validation.
Appeal to emotion: We must avoid manipulating an emotional response from our fellow council members or residents in place of using a valid or compelling argument.
When we can admit we are vulnerable to exhibiting any bias, we can connect on a whole other level.
Connect Takoma: When we connect, we care.
7 1/2 Lessons about the Brain and anything else by Dr. Lisa Feldman Barrett. Note we read this in our TPM Book Club last year.
Harvard Project on International Climate AgreementsMetrics for Evaluating Policy Commitments in a Fragmented World: The Challenges of Equity and Integrity A starting place. Substitute city/county for country.
TP muralist Nancy Ilman/Magic Wand Murals and TPMS Difference Makers