Past posts have highlighted data describing two cities in Santa Fe. This post suggests the need for a systemic approach to create sustainable equity in Santa Fe. And at the end, Land of the Free, Home of the Poor, a PBS video underscores the scope of inequity in America.
If life were just watching a ballgame, the difference between equality and equity, at left, would be sad, but not tragic. But life is not a game and thus “equality” represents social Darwinism, with each of the three people having the same starting point but one of them entirely out of the game. In real life, that can mean homelessness, desperate poverty, jail, or premature death.
Many Santa Feans can barely get by. The equality-equity image should have a fourth view, where the person is teetering on a stack of shaky boxes, struggling to see in. The real problem is that a single initiative cannot raise up all Santa Feans who need help. Our neighbors who are seniors living on a fixed income or who are working two jobs living paycheck to paycheck, our friends who are disabled and dependent on in-home supports to remain in the community, our immigrant families living in fear of a knock on the door that could tear their family apart — each of these individual’s lives teeter on a different set of wobbly boxes. One mishap, one missed check, one missed bus, one accident or illness and the boxes will tumble.
Expanding a food program here and a jobs program there or creating a comprehensive rental support program would address the needs of some, but they would not get at the heart of the problem. What is needed is a far more systemic response, a community wide commitment to equity, a commitment that guides every policy decision, every budget decision, and even many of our personal decisions. When investing in initiatives to bring jobs to Santa Fe, we must first start with questions like: What jobs? For whom? At what pay? When considering how to use our City’s general funds, the first and most important question should be: How will this investment help achieve equity? And perhaps when each of us decides how to pick a form of volunteerism, we might factor in the degree to which that volunteerism will contribute to equity.
The national scene is very difficult to impact and there are other organizations working nationally, but locally we can do something special, we can create equity in Santa Fe and set an example for cities across the country.
A Campaign to Achieve Equity in Santa Fe. Prior posts have described our emerging equity-focused partnership led by Chainbreaker. Click here for more on this campaign. This campaign will look at the challenges faced by so many Santa Feans and work together first to look at Santa Fe systemically and then to research ways to create a sustainably equitable city with no one standing on teetering boxes. Together we will engage our community in conversations about how to make Santa Fe more equitable. And we will form a power base to advocate with our elected officials to make equity possible. Track our emerging plans in future posts.
Sat. June 10, 1pm-6pm, Training in Community Conversations for Equity and Community Organizing. The first step in this journey is our training in community organizing and the art of effective communication. We need ambassadors trained in these skills to engage and educate our friends and neighbors, to write letters to the editor, and to testify at City Hall. This will be a deeply meaningful journey where you will meet new friends committed to social and economic justice. Let’s do this together. Click here for more details on the training and to RSVP.
In solidarity, Paul & Roxanne.
For an insightful video on the scope of economic injustice in America. See below.