Oregon Village Hall

Oregon Village Hall, 2015

Local advocacy groups are calling on the Village Board to ensure Oregon is a more equitable place to live.

Those include the village’s Council on Diversity and Inclusion and Oregon Allies, which both serve to bring awareness to issues surrounding race, gender and religion among others.

Molly Vidal, the Oregon Allies co-founder, and Coral Goplin, member, delivered presentations at the Monday, Oct. 5, board meeting calling trustees to action. They were joined by Allies president Dana Kobernusz and vice president Andrea Below on Zoom.

The board is now set to work with the two groups on a “blueprint for equity” plan, which the Allies said will help trustees gather diverse perspectives on policy choices, define the community’s priorities and values, help people who have experienced discrimination or xenophobia and ensure accountability in the police department, school district and other organizations.

Village administrator Mike Gracz said the plan will take a lot of work, as there are no specifics outlined in the plan. But the board plans to consult with both the Council and the Allies about those specifics.

“This is a great idea, but it will also be complicated,” Gracz said.

Vidal said during her presentation that the leaders of the village are totally made up of “white straight representation.” When making decisions, she called for “thinking about the ways those decisions affect groups and experiences in Oregon.”

“It doesn’t come as naturally for a lot of government groups … not always being cognizant of thinking through the lens of equity, diversity and inclusion when reviewing a policy,” she said.

She gave the example of when the Village Boards does bidding on a project, inquiring rhetorically if Oregon has a policy that prioritizes women, veteran and minority-owned businesses.

“Honestly, I just want to live in a community in which my son and other children can thrive,” she said.

Goplin had similar points to make, indicating there are “inequities bubbling to the surface everywhere.” She said while the issue is national, “we can also continue to push within our own spheres.”

Trustees gave the Allies’ presentation positive feedback.

“Having a more holistic and measurable view of what our (equity) goals are … Everybody who is coming before us can see how we are viewing that in the community,” Trustee Jenna Jacobson said. “I’d like to see us move forward on that.”

Trustee Cory Horton thanked the Allies for their work.

“I think you have a very willing board that wants to hear what everyone has to say,” he said.

Amanda Peterson, trustee, said “this is a great policy, let’s pass it.”

Email Emilie Heidemann at emilie.heidemann@wcinet.com or follow her on Twitter at @HeidemannEmilie.