UPDATE – 1/19/20
Please help Portsmouth Listens by sharing your perceptions and experiences so those who participate in the upcoming dialogues on Equity and Inclusion can have a better understanding of our community through personal stories. All responses are anonymous. Please respond by February 7th.
Dialogue registration is also open below. Each participant will be assigned to a study circle group, that will meet once a week for four weeks starting the week of March 2. Each session is two hours long.
Over the last 15 years, Portsmouth Listens has been committed to “making Portsmouth the best place to live, work and play for EVERYONE”. We bring people from all parts of our community together in a safe place to explore, through facilitated dialogs, significant challenges – and opportunities – for Portsmouth. Bullying, the budget, the Master Plan, considerations for the middle school, transportation and more have been thoughtfully discussed. As a result, there has been deepening understanding of others’ viewpoints.
Today, many across this country experience discrimination, based on specific traits such as race, ethnicity or one’s faith. These can be unconscious acts, or overtly violent, or somewhere in between. Racism, both individual and systemic, is the most common, historic and severe example of how inequity and exclusion can adversely affect our entire nation. Portsmouth/the Seacoast is not immune: although we consider ourselves a relatively inclusive community, locally, there have been troubling incidents based on race or seemingly neutral beliefs or traits such as faith or gender. We believe these attitudes undermine making Portsmouth the best place to live work and play for everyone.
To address this growing challenge, Portsmouth Listens invited all community members to participate in a two-phase community conversation framed as follows:
How can equity and inclusion contribute to making Portsmouth the best place to live, work and play for EVERYONE?
Phase 1 – Happened in November 2019
Fundamental to addressing racism is understanding its foundations. We hosted three educational and interactive forums –
- Forum #1 – Thursday, November 7th from 6:30 – 8:30PM at Portsmouth Middle School Cafe
- Forum #2 – Thursday, November 14th from 6:30 – 8:30PM at Portsmouth High School Library
- Forum #3 – Thursday, November 21st at from 6:30 – 8:30PM at Portsmouth High School Library
Building on each other, the sessions explored racism as the lens through which we can better understand inequity and exclusion. We saw how racism is multi-dimensional: interpersonal, internal, ideological and institutional. We explored how “white privilege” throughout our history has created inequities and exclusions that impact all of us, not just people of color. Participants shared their own experiences to help us all understand how we are impacted on the local level.
Phase 2 – planned for late January 2020
With a better understanding of the challenge, Phase 2 will create a safe space for all community members in a traditional four-week study circle led by trained facilitators. Participants will share, brainstorm and deliberate on “how equity and inclusion can make Portsmouth the best place to live, work and play for EVERYONE!” The process will explore how we can move from where we are today to the vision of an “equitable and inclusive community”. Phase 2 will start in late January, 2020.
(NOTE: Participation in at least some, if not all of Phase 1 is strongly suggested.)
Seacoast NAACP, Portsmouth Rotary, Portsmouth Schools, Friends Forever International, Exeter Racial Unity Team, Strawbery Banke Museum, South Church, Islamic Society of the Seacoast, Black Heritage Trail of NH, Great Bay Community College, Leadership Seacoast, and NH Listens