Equity has been at the forefront of conversations within the boards and commissions in Red Wing. City staff and the council have been making progress in the 2022 Strategic Racial Equity Action Plan.
The city’s timeline of making strides to a more equitable community started in 2016-2017, when the City Council approved the city’s first racial equity plan.
Then the city continued to gather more input and make equity a key principle for the city.
The Strategic Racial Equity Action Plan has seven strategies and each strategy outlines actions that the city plans to take to reach their equity goals.
Those goals include: “All areas of local government are free from racial inequities,” “the city is a workplace that prioritizes racial equity, values a diverse workforce and emphasizes recruitment, retention, education and training,” and “all residents are able to live safely and securely in a healthy, equitable environment.”
“After the 2022 plan, we will have a three-year plan to focus on each of the seven strategies. The strategies are input from the community that they felt were really important. We went out and talked with the people in the community to outline the goals and strategies,” community engagement facilitator Michelle Leise said.
Leise and Council Administrator Kay Kuhlmann have consulted with all of the boards, commissions and departments on what goals they have for the next five years.
“Each board and commission has a responsibility to create their own plan, and we have started to focus in on that,” Kuhlmann said.
“We also want to show the council that we aren’t just shelving this plan, this is a live document, and we talk about this at our staff meetings, and we are talking with all of the board and commissions. It is something that we feel really passionate about,” she continued.
This is just one of the actions that is in progress within the equity plan. Other action items in progress are implementation of a human rights complaint documentation system and increasing the use of Spanish translations in city communications.
“An example of something we are working on is implementing the human rights complaint documentation system. We now have a human rights resource connection, and we have a phone number and email and by the end of the month we will have a campaign to bring awareness to this resource,” Leise said.
Increasing language access is one of the top priorities for the city in 2022-2023. Some of the goals in this area include creating videos that outline translation features on the website, creating Spanish translations for all public notices and other important information.
After approaching each department and getting some feedback and insight on what some of their goals are for the next five years, an outline was compiled listing each department. Language access was a constant among many of the departments.
“One of the big ones this year especially is language accessibility. Just being more purposeful and more intentional about translation of information,” Leise said.
There is flexibility within this plan as well and within the five-year plans for each of the departments, board and commissions.
“Every year in January we want to present the goals of each of the departments to the council. We have asked the boards and commissions to come up with goals and create long-term plans to present and those can change from year to year,” Kuhlmann said.
The goals of the departments, commissions and boards will also be considered during budgeting. If some of the goals require extra funding, this is something that the council can consider when it comes time to approve the budget.
The equity plan is an ongoing process and progress will span over years to come. The plan is reviewed every couple of months by the city council and updates on certain projects are given.
The city and its entities are focusing on more than just racial diversity in this plan as well. There is an emphasis on accessibility and addressing diversity in age, socioeconomic status and much more.
Having regular reviews and keeping the conversation going during meetings is how the city plans to remain accountable for continuing to push this plan forward and staying consistent with reaching their equity goals.
The Strategic Racial Equity Action Plan along with other resources and materials regarding equity in Red Wing are available on the city’s website at red-wing.org/1001/Racial-Equity.