Update on Diversity, Equity & Inclusion effort and Statement on Symbol of Hate
On October 21st, the Town learned that a symbol of hate was placed in the front yard of a home in Andover. Symbols and acts of hate have no place in Andover and in every case, they will be actively and thoroughly investigated by the Andover Police Department.
Andover is not immune to such acts and symbols of hate, and we must work collaboratively to reject such expressions and embrace our shared values: tolerance, inclusiveness, and respect of diversity in all its forms. The symbol discovered yesterday is not reflective of the community, its strong commitment to combat the realities of racism, and its ongoing efforts to build a more inclusive Andover. While these acts are both destructive and hurtful, we cannot let them impede the progress we are making together.
On September 28th, the Select Board and Town Manager adopted a goal for 2020-2021 that focuses expressly on advancing the community’s work around diversity, equity, and inclusion. Here is a summary of the goal:
Advance community discussions around diversity, equity and inclusion and develop roadmap for next steps:
- Work with Visions, Inc. to complete a community assessment by facilitating focus groups with residents, communities of faith, communities of color and public and private school leaders and other stakeholders
- Complete community survey which, in conjunction with the outcomes of focus groups, will define the Town’s roadmap for next steps that are responsive to community priorities and create educational opportunities for residents and businesses on anti-racism and implicit bias. Work with Human Resources to identify and implement training opportunities for Town and school employees that focus on implicit bias, equity and anti-racism, and establish and appoint a permanent resident and staff joint committee to work on developing a charge for Andover DIVERSE. The Committee shall also support the work of Andover DIVERSE
- Identify and fund a dedicated resource(s) focused on advancing the Town’s work around diversity, equity and inclusion goals. Evaluate opportunities that may include regional partnerships, shared services or other assignments of responsibilities as part of the effort to establish this resource(s)
Work towards this goal is well underway. We are fortunate to benefit from the talents and commitment of several leaders in the community who stepped forward as we advance these efforts. They leaders are:
- Michael Eatman, Director of Community Life, The Pike School
- Dana Allen Walsh, Senior Pastor, South Church
- Jorge Allen, World Language Program Head, Andover Public Schools
- Elizabeth Walther-Grant, Co-Founder, Merrimack Valley Black and Brown Voices
- Nicki Wiggins, Board Member, A Better Chance
- Mary Pritchard, founder, Courageous Conversations
- Rick Pinderhughes, Consultant, VISIONS
- Jemma Lambert, Director of Community Services, Town of Andover
Together, this group will finalize a survey instrument and design our approach to focus group conversations with residents and businesses. That work is underway and will continue through the month of October.
We intend to launch the community-wide survey by the end of October and to schedule and begin conducting focus groups shortly thereafter. Once these activities are completed, Project Consultant Rick Pinderhughes will provide the Town with a set of recommended action steps that align with the community’s shared priorities.
The Select Board and Town Manager will continue to provide regular updates on the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion initiative. The next update is scheduled for the November 2nd Select Board Meeting.
The Select Board and Town Manager thank you in advance for your participation.