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City of Bozeman taking steps toward equity for all residents

Posted at 4:50 PM, May 14, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-14 19:51:33-04

BOZEMAN — Racial equity can be a challenging conversation to hold, especially in places that may not be largely diverse.

But the city of Bozeman says they want to have the conversation and address the issues.

Equity for all, but what does that look like in the city of Bozeman? Well, that’s what they want to know.

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“These are the specific areas in which we are seeing inequities persist," said Bozeman City Commissioner Christopher Coburn. "Many of us have known they’ve been there for a very long time. But now, we’ll know as a community they’re there and we can begin to have some really well-informed conversations about what’s next. How do we correct this?”

But first, let’s define what equity means.

“To characterize the services and resources that exist in our community and the stories people have to share about how their identity influences their ability to thrive in our community and to feel safe and welcomed and valued,” said Dani Hess of the Neighborhoods Program Coordinator.

Which led the city to conduct an Equity Indicators Project. Starting with this survey.

“It’s a really early step in our community’s process to address some really big issues, so this is ongoing work," said Hess. "It’s not just a one and done, checking the box kind of project. It’s really setting the groundwork for ongoing work in the equity and inclusion space.”

It’s a start for the city, but the Montana Racial Equity Project has made it a mission to build equity in Montana for years, and they’re housed right here in Bozeman.

“I work with institutions, businesses, nonprofits, who are interested in equity inclusion throughout their whole organizations,” said Meshayla Cox of The Montana Racial Equity Project.

So with the organization’s background and experience I wanted to know their thoughts on the survey.

“I think it’s a good first step. We’re acknowledging that inequities do exist. Right?" asked Cox. "Because we’re looking to measure them. We’re going to recognize exactly what those are, so we can at least diagnose the problem, and then we can move on to solving it.”

City leaders say they are willing to turn efforts into action.

“That’s why this process we’re engaging in right now is so critical because it’s going to help lay the groundwork to create a roadmap," said Coburn.

The Equity Indicators Project survey can be found online and taken by anyone until May 28th.

The survey takes about 10 minutes to complete.