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March 2007 Newsletter         Subscribe to this newsletter


March 2007

In this issue:

Local Activists Receive Human Rights Awards

Save the Date!
October 6, 2007
Seattle Womens Summit

Martin Luther King Jr. in Chicago
Color Photos of the 1966 Freedom Movement

Martin Luther King Jr. in Chicago- Photo Copyright Bernard J. Kleina 1966

Exhibit opening March 29 features photographer Bernard Kleina

Two events on Thursday, March 29 at Seattle City Hall will celebrate the opening of the photo exhibition, "Martin Luther King Jr. in Chicago – Color Photos of the 1966 Freedom Movement."

  • At 12 noon, veteran photographer and fair housing activist Bernard Kleina will discuss the photos on March 29 in City Hall’s Bertha Landes Room.
  • From 5:30-7:30 p.m. Kleina will attend an opening reception for the exhibit in the main lobby of City Hall. Mayor Greg Nickels will welcome guests at 6 p.m.

Both events are free and open to the public. The exhibit will remain on display until Friday, April 13 during regular business hours at Seattle City Hall, 600 Fourth Avenue (between Cherry and James St.) in downtown Seattle .

“Martin Luther King Jr. in Chicago” offers a rare color portrait of the Chicago Open Housing Campaign, one of the pivotal events in American civil rights history. Photographer Bernard Kleina has served as Executive Director of Illinois’ HOPE Fair Housing Center for over 36 years, and is one of the most respected advocates for fair housing in the country.

"Martin Luther King Jr. in Chicago" is sponsored by the Seattle Office for Civil Rights and the King County Office of Civil Rights to celebrate National Fair Housing Month in April. For more information, call the Seattle Office for Civil Rights at 206-684-4507, or visit www.seattle.gov/civilrights.

Click here to see a flyer for the event.


Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Program resolves civil rights complaints

By Dane Keehn, City of Seattle Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Program Coordinator

One of the options available to people when they file complaints with the Seattle Office for Civil rights (SOCR) is mediation services from the City of Seattle’s Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) program. In this option, the person who believes s/he has experienced discrimination meets with the alleged offending party, and with the help of two mediators, attempts to resolve the complaint.

This alternative to the investigative process is very successful:

4 out of 5 times the parties successfully resolve the situation. Who decides what success is? They do. If both sides believe they have reached a fair, equitable, durable and just resolution, with the help of the mediators, they record their settlement and move on with their lives. If the parties don’t reach a resolution they both believe is fair, then the case goes back to SOCR for a full investigation.

  • The Charging parties and Respondents who have used the process say they are satisfied with the process and would recommend it to others.
  • Settlements reached are in line with those cases that go through a full investigation and have "reasonable cause” findings.
  • In addition to resolving issues with the Charging Party, Responding Parties often voluntarily agree to include terms that benefit the public interest.

While the ADR program has achieved much in the last year, we are most proud of our Race and Social Justice accomplishments. In order to help achieve the Mayor’s goal to end institutionalized racism in City government and create a community that is enriched by its diverse cultures, the ADR program has pushed in two directions: diversification and training.

Diversifying the field

People of color have been underrepresented in the Seattle mediator field since the mediation movement began to blossom in the 1980s. The need for any City work-place program to have an employee population base roughly paralleling the diversity in the general population shouldn’t need defending. But in the case of a program specifically working on resolving disputes involving racial tension, the need for diversity is imperative. In order for a mediation team to be effective, clients must believe that the mediators are impartial, and that they are fully able to relate to them and the issues most important in their lives.

Through recruitment, training and mentoring efforts over the last two years, the racial makeup of our mediator pool now more closely matches the racial make up of the population of Seattle. When the ADR program began mediating SOCR cases in 2004, we had no people of color in the mediator pool used for these cases. By the end of 2005, we had about 10% people of color. And by the end of 2006, we had 28% people of color. Those numbers have already gone up a bit in 2007 as we continue our efforts.

Training for City of Seattle employees and mediators

The ADR program insures that there are conflict resolution trainings for City employees throughout the year. In addition to this standard training, last October the ADR program presented a unique forum theater / training on dealing with racial tensions and conflict, attended by more than one hundred City employees. The forum was a huge success – the vast majority of participants said they found it very beneficial.

Training for Mediators

In 2006 the ADR program also provided several advanced trainings for our mediators on how to better facilitate discussion on race-related issues. Training topics included:

  • How and when to raise the issue of race when it appears to be an unspoken undercurrent in a conflict.
  • How to best sustain a useful dialogue on race.
  • Understanding power dynamics
  • Understanding institutional racism, white privilege, internalized oppression and other important concepts.

Diverse, better trained mediators

We now have more diverse, better trained mediators helping resolve SOCR discrimination charges, as well as helping City of Seattle employees talk to one another.

The effect of our Race and Social Justice work is rippling out into the community. After attending a day-long, ADR-sponsored training on “Understanding Institutional Racism,” mediators for the Federal Government (including the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) decided to diversify their own pools of mediators. They pulled together mediators, judges, and attorneys from throughout the Puget Sound Region to discuss the best way to do this. And they gained support and tentative funding from the Washington State Bar to further their efforts.

The whole idea of the Alternative Dispute Resolution Program is to help people have difficult conversations and talk through thorny issues. With a better trained, more diverse group of mediators, we are now in a better position than ever to do that. Helping citizens and employees have those difficult conversations around race, discrimination and institutionalized racism is one of the ingredients necessary to move us towards the Mayor’s vision of a City government and community that is enriched by its diverse cultures.

 


Save the Date!
October 6, 2007
Seattle Womens Summit

photo of woman

The Seattle Womens Summit gets to the heart of issues that matter to Seattle women through dynamic workshops, facilitated discussions, and an interactive resource fair. And it gives women the skills to advocate effectively for womens issues through trainings on communication, advocacy, and leadership. You wont want to miss this great day!

The information shared at the Summit helps guide the Seattle Womens Commission on its annual work plan and directly informs our policy recommendations.

Get involved! If your organization or company is interested in sponsoring or exhibiting at the Seattle Womens Summit, please call us at (206) 684-4537 or email Felicia.Yearwood-Murrell@Seattle.gov.

Visit the Seattle Womens Commission website at http://www.seattle.gov/womenscommission/.

 

Seattle Office for Civil Rights
Germaine Covington, Director

For newsletter questions contact Brenda Anibarro, (206) 684-4514 Brenda.Anibarro@Seattle.Gov