Many groups and individuals in Fergus Falls have come together to organize and host the first of several Community Conversations on Equity Tuesday, with the first topic being human rights.
Due to concerns with group gatherings, the event will be held via Zoom and preregistration is required. “At 7 p.m. we’ll start with a welcome by Mayor Ben Schierer and I’ll help explain the flow of events and introduce our speakers, Chris Hyslop and Dr. Kandace Creel Falcon,” says Klara Beck, community development manager for the city of Fergus Falls.
Hyslop began working at the United Nations in 2003 and has a degree in public policy from Harvard University. Hyslop will be discussing his time with the U.N. and the U.N.’s work on human rights.
Falcon served on the Minnesota Chicano Latino Affairs Council and was an assistant professor of women’s and gender studies at Minnesota State University Moorhead. She will be discussing equity through a rural lens and providing background on what equity is and means.
Following the speakers, attendees will be put into small group discussions facilitated by members of the planning committee. Finally, everyone will regroup and the meeting will end with a roundup of intentions and actions and additional information on future Community Conversations.
The event is hosted by the mayor, the city of Fergus Falls, the Fergus Falls Public Library and the Fergus Falls Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Community of Practice (FFDEICoP) with support from community members. “Since the death of George Floyd rocked our state and nation, there has been renewed vigor in our community to tackle issues of equity,” Beck says, adding that the COVID-19 crisis has prevented people from being able to connect and discuss these issues in meaningful ways. “Several community members approached Mayor Ben Schierer about their desire to see a community-wide event that could help satisfy the craving many have to connect with each other and delve into difficult conversations aimed at bringing about significant cultural change.”
Melinda Christianson, steering committee member for FFDEICoP and the Fergus Falls Public School District’s equity committee leader, said it was a natural fit to connect FFDEICoP to these community conversation events. “I think it’s far past time for these conversations to start, but I am glad community interest is building,” she says. “We have had many discussions and learning opportunities the past couple years through the FFDEICoP and the Respectful Conversations series led by Victoria McWane-Creek and Nancy South. I’ve learned so much through these and other experiences, and I hope this conversation will also have a positive impact on participants. Dr. Falcon is an amazing speaker who shared with us in a community of practice meeting and has also generously spoken to my concurrent intercultural communication class. I learn something new every time I hear them speak.”
Community Conversations are free to attend and interested parties can register for Tuesday’s event at https://bit.ly/ffcc2020. People who would like to attend but do not have access to Zoom may contact the Fergus Falls Public Library, as they may be able to accommodate them.