Eastside Racial Equity Summit - Eastside Pathways
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Eastside Racial Equity Summit

On June 27, 110 individuals from 40 organizations (see below) gathered together at the Odle Middle School in Bellevue for the first Eastside Racial Equity Summit.

Organized by the Bellevue School District (BSD), City of Bellevue, Eastside Pathways, and Leadership Eastside, the purpose of the summit was to bring together organizations across East King County in order to align existing equity initiatives, deepen individual understanding and commitment to the work, and to set forth a common regional goal towards a more equitable Eastside. The summit was facilitated by Courtlandt Butts from the Pacific Educational Group (PEG).

[Read PEG Summit: Courageous Conversation, a regional summit held in Bellevue on June 27-28]

Welcoming the audience, Stephanie Cherrington, Executive Director of Eastside Pathways, said that with the work being done by the Eastside Pathways Racial Equity Team, there was a realization that many other organizations and individuals on the Eastside are also working in the same area. “We wanted to pull together the folks on the Eastside – individuals and organizations – that have started to do work around equity and learn what each other is doing. I’m hoping that you all will have the opportunity to have some open, honest dialogue today and be able to take a number of things away with you and work together to really advance equity, especially racial equity on the Eastside.”

Shomari Jones, the Equity Director for BSD shared: “Working in partnership with PEG I’ve learned and grown individually, around my purpose, around how to become more centered, around how to engage in courageous conversations, around really just figuring out where I stand in this conversation and moving myself along with others. I am excited about who we have in the room – the individuals and the organizations they represent and it makes me very happy  that we get to be in this conversation together.”

Courtlandt Butts then led the room in a three-hour engaging interactive discussion. He spoke about communication and content, language and understanding and took the audience through different to open their minds to what could be. 

There was honest conversation as individuals, initially, strangers to each other started opening up and sharing deep thoughts and views.

Some comments shared by the participants on the exercises conducted by Courtlandt:

Exercise 1: One person introduces him/herself while the listener is silent:

“It’s hard to keep talking without getting feedback.”
“I had to stop myself from asking questions.”
“The decibel level of my inner voice was louder than my partner’s voice.”
“I wasn’t ready for the level of listening that I was going to have with someone I didn’t know.”

Exercise 2: The listener now asks questions:

“I felt a lot better because I was able to ask questions and understand where the person is coming from.”
“This technique helped me understand and get a lot out of my partner.”
“The second time around it gave me a sense of completion because I was able to go deeper and ask questions.”

As Courtlandt said after the exercises: “Speaking louder and harder does not make communication easier. We must seek to understand the language and content – and be prepared to understand others.”

[Next month we will share an interview with Courtlandt on why he does what he does.]

Following this first Eastside Racial Equity Summit, there will be a “Conversations on Equity” on September 20, 2017, at Realogics Sotheby’s International Realty in Kirkland. Interested people can register here to continue the discussion on deconstructing inequities and building systems to promote equity across our region.

In the meantime please reach out to people you connected with at the Summit to support their equity work, and/or share your work on equity.


List of organizations in attendance:

Bellevue Diversity Council

Bellevue Downtown

Bellevue Lifespring

Bellevue Parents Alliance for Black Scholars

Bellevue Police Department

Bellevue Presbyterian Church

Bellevue PTSA

Bellevue Schools Foundation

Bellevue Special Needs PTA

Bellevue School District

Chinese Information Services Center

Citizens Climate Lobby

City of Bellevue

City of Issaquah

City of Kirkland

City of Mercer Island

City of Redmond

Community Leader

Cultural Nexus

East Shore Unitarian Church

Eastside Pathways



Indian Association of Western Washington

International Community Health Services

Issaquah Food Bank

Leadership Eastside


Lake Washington School District


Muslim Community and Neighborhood Association

Nourishing Networks

Punto Foundation

Rainier Athletes


Sound Mental Health

Together Center

Washington State University

Youth Eastside Services

YMCA Seattle