BLM Community Coalition celebrates accomplishments

Looks at goals moving forward

By Kendra Walker

About 50 members of the community came together last week for the Black Lives Matter Community Coalition’s public meeting on July 7 to reflect on the group’s accomplishments from this past year and discuss future goals to help the community become a more welcoming place for diversity, inclusion and equity. 

The BLMCC recapped some of its community-wide achievements from the past year, among its various subcommittees that focus on Community Expression of Values, Business Community and Economy Opportunity, Local Government, Tourism Marketing and Outdoor Recreation and Education.

“It was incredibly positive,” said Chloe Bowman of the BLMCC and local non-profit The Melanin Mountain Project, who shared the evening’s highlights with the Crested Butte News. “There was huge celebration over these accomplishments. It really did feel like a celebration of our last year, with people who were there from day one.”

For Community Expression of Values, the BLMCC initiated several accomplishments this past year, including the town’s painting of Elk Avenue with a Black Lives Matter street mural last summer; the town council signing a declaration to be anti-racist and condemn racism and hatred; and this summer, holding the first ever Juneteenth celebration in Crested Butte and hosting two BIPOC-led groups performing in the Alpenglow concert series at the Center for the Arts.

With the Business Community and Economy Opportunity committee, accomplishments include: creating a JEDI-based initiative within the hiring processes in the community; creating a 12-part infograph series called “Why Diversity Matters – Important JEDI facts for businesses on Justice, Equity, Diversity & Inclusion”; and conducting a local business survey last fall to all Crested Butte/Mt. Crested Butte Chamber of Commerce members with the intention to feel the pulse of the business community and understand how to tailor each subcommittee to the collective group’s efforts. 

Within Local Government, the BLMCC encouraged the town to change the Marshal uniforms from black to blue, conducted JEDI training for all town employees and marshals; the town added a specific statement to its policies saying that discrimination against citizens will not be tolerated; and initiated an overhaul of the complaint system with the marshals, where all written complaints go directly to HR and the town manager, and making it more formalized, safe and easy to make complaints. 

For Tourism Marketing and Outdoor Recreation, the group has developed a set of goals and priorities, including; bringing outdoor recreation-themed BIPOC organizations to the area and to attract BIPOC entrepreneurs in the outdoor industry; creating messaging at trailheads, on ski slopes, Nordic trails and other venues that welcome diverse communities of visitors; and initiating programs aimed at facilitation of outdoor experiences for BIPOC through grants or scholarships. 

In the Education realm, the committee has conducted 16 JEDI Training sessions for the Gunnison Watershed School District and Juvenile Services. They are also in collaboration with the League of Women Voters, Gunnison Rotary Club and KBUT for various educational opportunities. 

Goals moving forward

Looking ahead, the BLMCC has some goals they’d like to accomplish within the next year, including seeking out artwork on a Mountain Express town shuttle that represents diversity, inclusion and equity. The Education subcommittee is also talking to community preschools to do a series of Equity Labs, and is currently under contract with the Gunnison Hinsdale County Early Childhood Council. The BLMCC also plans to dive more into marketing once local marketing entities have JEDI training, “so our advertising is a little more authentic and we have tangible outreach that doesn’t feel feigned,” said Bowman. 

“There was a lot of self reflection about people’s intentions versus the impacts of People of Color we’re trying to reach,” said Bowman. “I truly believe we’re finally grasping what things are meaning, how we look and we’re taking a real introspective reflection of ourselves as a community. The follow-through will be met with less pushback because the dialogue is there, and hopefully we’ll be seeing more responses from People of Color here. The dialogues have been very eye-opening and inspiring for the community, and we’re hoping to further that.”

The BLMCC is also seeking more fundraising opportunities to further community support, and Bowman’s Melanin Mountain Project has some exciting things in the works. “More to come,” she said.  

Bowman reflects on how far the community has come in a short amount of time. “I think we’ve come a long way and we could see that in the crowd, everybody was really moved. Everybody is really stepping up to the plate and we’re showing that anybody in the community can make a change.”

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