With sub-zero temperatures and an intense wind chill, a small group of community members heated up together on Thursday, February 12th at the Northeast Bank Community Room by digging into the spicy subject of…
And why, you may ask, is this topic so steamy? Because, as all four panelists agreed, budgets reflect values and are a significant tool to hold our elected officials accountable. There is especially nothing quite as attractive as seeing funding and resources allocated toward racial justice and more equitable outcomes for communities of color – and this is what our panel addressed head on at our fourth BCLI Issue Series on February 12th.
Check out the photo gallery here.
Four powerful panelists were invited to share their experiences in the areas of transportation, city and state budgets – specifically addressing the following questions: If budgets articulate values, how are current budgets linked to racial equity? How can we use budgets to hold our elected officials accountable to values of equity?
Brett Buckner, President and CEO of BaseNetwork&Power, kick-started the panel by sharing his experience advocating for racial equity in the City of Minneapolis budget – a battle that sparked significant public backlash when the City Council voted to cut a huge piece of the racial-equity-funding-pie out of Mayor Betsy Hodges’ original proposed budget. Check out Buckner’s audio below:
Leah Gardner, the Minnesota Budget Project’s Outreach Coordinator at the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits, spoke next on the even sexier topic of tax law. As Gardner said, the tax code was created to benefit and maintain the status quo, so we have to be active participants at the State Capital, and show up to advocate for a more progressive tax system. Check out Gardner’s audio below:
Lynnea Atlas-Ingebretson, Chair Emeritus of the Parks and Trails Legacy Advisory Committee, shared her experience ensuring the incorporation of racial equity in the development plans of Minnesota’s parks and trails to benefit families and communities of color. Click below to hear Atlas-Ingebretson’s full audio:
Jim Erkel, Director of Land Use and Transportation at the Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy, closed up the panel by sharing two powerful stories of when diving into the region’s finance and budget pool ended with reallocating transit resources to benefit low-income communities and communities of color, one of which has maintained the current fare system for transit riders. Hear Erkel’s full stories in the link below:
The evening concluded with Q & A between the panelists and the audience. Listen to the full Q & A in the link below, or see the list of questions beneath the link to jump ahead to the time of each question:
- (0:21) How do we train and educate our activists to dig for that money [in the city, county or X budget]?
- (9:15) There are good paying jobs for organizers and community engagement employees in government – at what point should white candidates withdraw – or are ethnically diverse hires what we should always be looking and pushing for?
- (13:46) Has there been any proposals at the City Council to look at best practices outside of Minnesota to accomplish diversity and equity goals?
- (20:30) What’s the next step? What’s one action I can take after leaving this room?