Chelsea Human Rights Commission Reports on Recent Activity

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By Doug Marrin, STN Reporter

At the July 19, 2021, City Council meeting, Chelsea’s Human Rights Commission (HRC) presented the results and next steps from a recent training seminar on diversity, equity, and inclusion for those involved in city government.

“As all of you know, the Michigan Department of Civil Rights provided a four-hour training remotely on May 20,” said Susan Morrel-Samuels, Chairperson for the HRC. “Twenty-six people participated, including city staff, city council members, members of boards and commissions.”

Ms. Morrel-Samuels submitted a written summary of the session from Alfredo Hernandez of MDCR stating the objective of such training seminars. “These learning sessions have aimed to promote a collective sense of awareness rooted in the recognition that none of us are immune to the process of enculturation, which is often guided and influenced by dominant narratives, polarized message, prejudice, and power.”

After the training session, the MDCR made the following recommendations for the City of Chelsea:

  1. Conduct an organizational system review.
  2. Provide opportunities to increase cultural competence.
  3. Create a core team to increase shared learning that shapes institutional change.
  4. Provide opportunities to conduct root cause analysis to arrive at comprehensive solutions for change through work in focus groups.

Morrell-Samuels explained to the Council that MDCR offers a diversity, equity, and inclusion assessment tool to help an organization evaluate its current practices and policies that include sections on government programs and services and human resources. It is the opinion of the HRC that this tool could be used for Chelsea.

Councilmember Iannelli, the council representative on the HRC, introduced a motion during council business that would create a group comprised of members from different sectors of the Chelsea government that would employ the assessment tool. The motion was moved to the Council’s October visioning session as an agenda item.

Morrell-Samuels also updated the HRC’s progress with its Civility Program. After being delayed by the pandemic, the commission hopes to launch the program in November. HRC is working with the Chelsea District Library, which has already scheduled a November 17 seminar – Civil Discourse Workshop: Practicing Honest, Constructive Dialogue in Your Community.

“The HRC proposes to build on this library event by convening a moderated panel of local residents that would include youth, clergy, governmental, and school representatives,” said Morrell-Samuels.

The HRC Chairperson also encouraged the Council to support a motion to be introduced by Iannelli that would allow the HRC to partner with the Chelsea District Library, Chamber of Commerce, and St. Joseph Mercy Chelsea for a training webinar titled, Diversity, Equity, Inclusion in the Workplace, on August 10. The Council approved the motion with a request for more information.

Morrell-Samuels concluded by highlighting the open seat on the HRC and encouraged anyone who might be interested in applying through the City’s website.

Photo courtesy of Chelsea Area Garden Club

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