Friday Letter, 2-5-16

We have many passions on this campus and this week has led me to think about them more deeply. Sometimes we say Human Rights.  Sometimes we say Pluralism.  Sometimes we say Sustainability.  Sometimes we say Community-Based or Integrated Learning.

Ultimately, I think we are helping students succeed by exposing them to an array of social justice lenses. Those lenses can and will change over time. I was reminded that this is a basic framework for our work by several events this week.

There was an act of racism in Redmond last week. A person deliberately presented a KKK robe to a black business owner in Redmond.  This led several groups to demonstrate support for the business owner and affirm efforts to address racism.  After a noontime rally at City Hall, and speeches by several activists, the Mayor, and the President of Cascadia College, we attached pieces of cloth to an arch with statements about what we will do to help.  This arch will travel through several cities before ultimately landing at Cascadia for a week.  When it arrives, we will use it as a centerpiece to remind our campus about social justice and the effects of racism.

This week Erin Blakeney sent out a notice about efforts to collect goodies for Love Hygiene Kits. These kits will benefit Cascadia community members who are homeless.  Several classes and staff have initiated this effort to help students and remind us that homelessness, even at Cascadia, is very real.  Check out the flyer for details SHOWSOMELOVEFINAL.

Speaking of keeping it Real…Anne Tuominen had a successful event this week involving folks from the organization Real Change. She wrote me this:

Hi Eric,

I just wanted to share with you the email I sent to my 10 wonderful colleagues (Kari, Venus, Chris, Denise, Sarah, Dianne, Abigail, Rosemary, Meagan, Shandy, Sherrl) who joined Cascadia students in attending the Inspiring Real Change event today (the ones that I noted anyway), and a photo of our excellent speakers from Real Change Anitra Freeman and Tracey Williams), Real Change employee Karina Saunders), and the CAB crew who joined me in making the event even bigger than I originally planned.  Over 85 people attended!   In my introduction, I invoked our Cascadia values, that we are a caring community, and that we want to know more and do more here, because we believe in social justice, access, pluralism, etc.   It turns out the event was a great representation of that community, and I’m so pleased to be a part of it.

The email Anne sent was this:

I just wanted to thank you for coming to the Inspiring Real Change event today. While the work we do here is, at its core, student-centered, we are a community and it’s heartening to see members from all parts of that community, including colleagues, listening, talking, participating at events like today’s, about topics such as poverty, homelessness, American dreams.   We had 85 or so attendees listening to Anitra Freeman’s and Tracey William’s powerful stories and messages. 

Your presence and support, especially on a Friday morning, means a lot to me. Several of my students also noted your presence: they told me they saw Prof. Lynam, and their Spanish professor was there, and the art teacher and….  See, it matters!  Thank you, all! 

As we think about powerful programs and messages from this week, we roll into next week’s Human Rights Awareness Week. I would encourage you to attend at least one of those events.  Here’s the link to the schedule.  And please, if you can, drop off an item for our Love Hygiene Kits.

We are not a social service. We are an educational institution.  However, educating students through a lens of social justice will help them be even more effective employees and citizens in the communities where they will ultimately live their lives.

Have a great weekend.

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