Policy Link – Equity Summit: Chicago, IL
by Carla Belcher, FII-Cincinnati Family Partner
I live in North College Hill in Cincinnati, OH and I joined FII in December 2017 along with five other single mothers who were part of an organization called Warrior Moms. My neighborhood’s history is steeped with segregation and discrimination. Much of that past has translated to the present where community disconnection, paranoia, and lack of trust among neighbors are the norm. When I was selected to attend the Equity Summit, an opportunity to convene with activists, organizers, and leaders to discuss equity and justice and step into our power, activate our imaginations, and set a national agenda, I was excited. I wanted to learn and bring back ideas on how to address these issues within my community.
The actual experience exceeded anything I could ever have imagined. There was a vibrant source of energy that spread throughout the whole Summit. For three full days, I was immersed in deep conversation with conference participants about how they are connecting with others in the community around social change.
One of the most meaningful experiences for me was attending the workshop “Mobilizing Arts and Culture in the Equity Movement.” As an artist myself, I had always wanted to start my own business, not just to sell my work but to spark social change in North College Hill. Bouncing ideas off of other workshop attendees taught me that equity can begin with subtle changes. I was inspired to go home and make my dream a reality.
When I returned home to Cincinnati, my family and I decided we were going to start Carter’s Place in our garage. It will be transformed into a creative space – a gallery and neighborhood community building space all in one – for Parents to come together, share coping strategies, and use our art to focus on equity for all members of our community. In addition, I have joined the North College Hill Arts Taskforce and am leading the work to further researching our neighborhood’s history to better understand how we might to bring our community together.
I am actually grieving over the conclusion of the formal Equity Summit experience as I am already missing the bonds forged with the other attendees and the intangible spirit which permeated the Summit. However, I brought back so much knowledge from my experience that I have the fortitude and strength to work with others to make serious changes in my community. Having joined several groups that really want to make a change in our city will motivate my efforts.
No cultural, racial, social or economic disparity should keep us from bringing everyone in our community closer. We should have frequent and productive conversations about how we can make our neighborhoods safe and have all community members treated equitably. I plan to keep using my voice and my art to do just that in North College Hill.