President’s Report – Annual Meeting- BCHRTF – Dec.1,3, 2021
I am happy to report that the BCHRTF is alive and well – not only that—as we prepare to step into the year of our 30th anniversary, it is thriving. Our membership is growing, and we have new members on the Board who have added their passion and skills to the experience and commitment of those of us who have been around for a long time. The result is that our agenda has broadened, our partnerships in the community have been strengthened, and our stature in the community has increased.
Last year, at our annual meeting, we set goals for the year 2021. They were:
Facilitate community training on Equity & Inclusion for law enforcement, county & city officials and local businesses
Prepare a Handbook on Diversity, Equity & Inclusion for businesses
Find ways to further engage and involve TF members
Review & Update By-laws, write clarifying policies where needed
Review & update BCHRTF brochure
Revising the Logo was mentioned, and it was suggested that involving the community in this by having a contest would be a good idea.
We have made progress in each of these areas, while remaining true to our Mission and goals.
A committee has worked hard to prepare to offer the community training mentioned in our first goal. It will be called “Leadership for an Inclusive Sandpoint.” Anyone who is willing to take a leadership role in helping to bring our community together, within a national climate of bitter division, will be invited to participate. The outline has been completed, experienced trainers have agreed to do this—the date has yet to be set. We have delayed doing that, hoping that the Covid factor would have lessened a great deal by now. As before—with the new variants—there is still a great deal of uncertainty. The Board agreed that this event—which will take place over three days—would be much more powerful in person. However, the high rates of Covid cases for a long period of time, and the small number of people who have been vaccinated, has been discouraging. We are committed to doing this however—in person or virtually—and will be making an announcement, after the first of the year, as to specifically when and/or where.
In addition, a committee has been working throughout 2021 on the Handbook on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion for local businesses. It is nearly complete—and a plan for rolling it out and making it available is being developed.
We have found many ways in which individual TF members—not only the Board – have been active in our endeavors this past year. Some have helped to be present at the Table which we have had at the Farmer’s Market—which has had “Love Lives Here Signs” and information on the Task Force. People have stopped by to stop, ask questions, and in many cases, sign up to be members. Krista and Carrie have been the most faithful at being at the Table—and largely as a result of this effort, as well as Tables at different events, our general membership has grown from approximately 350 to over 500 members, in this past year.
Members have also helped out at events and in writing Thank-you letters to donors, and Welcome letters to new members.
We did have a contest, and selected a new Logo—we are in the process now of changing our banner, and will be utilizing it on a new brochure and all of our printed materials.
The only thing on our list we didn’t tackle this year was to review the By-laws. So that will remain on the list for the upcoming year.
The partnerships that have been created or strengthened this year are:
Three other local TF’s and MHRN—zoom meetings every 3 weeks
Through this partnership, the formal complaint was made against the Board of Trustees at NIC, which has prompted an investigation by their accrediting agency, and public concern expressed by the state Department of Education.
Also, a powerpoint presentation created by the Boundary County TF about the Redoubt movement and other anti-democratic groups who are active in our region, was shown to our Board, and plans are being made to also to also show it in the community.
The East Bonner County Library, the Panida Theatre, KRFY, the Gonzaga Institute for Hate Studies
Added to old partners—POAC, Pend Oreille School District and other local agencies we have partnered with through grants from our Idaho Community Foundation Fund: the Food Bank, the Music Conservatory, NAMI, Partners in Care Clinic, the Youth Center, Priest River Ministries and the Sandpoint Community Resource Center.
Scholarships – Three Scholarships were awarded this year -- Ellen Clark is going to study National Law in Syracuse, NY, after spending her first semester in France - Cloe Martin is a caregiver for her mother who is handicapped. Cloe is going to BSU for nursing, with a focus on humanity. She has taken all the nursing classes at the highschool. - Bryce Nichol is going to NIC with a focus on botany and the environment. He couldn’t afford to live in CDA, and is taking online classes.
In addition, funds were awarded to FHRAA to fund the Erik Brujhell scholarship.
Our Victim Assistance policy was written and approved by the Board—and we have worked extensively with 3 individuals who were harassed and threatened, or experienced discrimination during this past year.
We have spoken out publicly on a number of occasions this year—writing letters to the editor, or Op-Ed articles for local news regarding the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capital, for Martin Luther King Day, regarding hate-mail and racist flyers distributed in down-town businesses, and the slashing of the banner put up by the Bridgers saying, “We the people of Bonner County Welcome All : Diversity, Unity, Kindness” – and including the “Love Lives Here” logo.
We have met with law enforcement – both city & county during the past year – regarding the militia presence in June, harassment and threats to an individual and racist, anti-semitic and homophobic flyers placed at local businesses.
We had a Table at the PFLAG Pride Festival in the summer at Matchwood Brewery – the first such event in Sandpoint.
Presentations were made about the BCHRTF at Rotary, the Gardenia Center and at the SHS Human Rights Club. We will continue to work closely with the high school students.
The BCHRTF was represented on a panel at Gonzaga University to talk about the importance and the role of community human rights task forces. This was part of the international conference sponsored by the Institute for Hate Studies. It was called “Justice & Equity: Challenging Hate, Inspiring Hope.”
And finally, in December, a community reading project was launched, in collaboration with the East Bonner County Library, to read and discuss the book “Caste: The Origins of our Discontent” by Isabel Wilkerson. It was introduced by Dr. Ann Masai Jones, who will return to make a presentation at the end of the series about “Becoming an Ally.” Weekly discussions, for 7 weeks will be led by TF Board members.
Will be asking for everyone’s input as we prepare to step into this next year—and fully expect that the role the Task Force plays in our community will continue to grow.