The Key is We: Potential actions enhance culture of belonging
As your City Councilor, I will advocate for the framework that supports a culture of belonging in Lake Oswego.
The reality is many People of Color do not feel comfortable in Lake Oswego.
This is not surprising considering that Lake Oswego itself is not diverse — of 40,000 residents, 86% White, 7% Asian, 5% Latino, 0.7% Black, and 0.6% American Indian. Then again, Oregon isn't diverse — according to www.census.gov, 86% white, 13% Latino, 5% Asian, 2% Black, and, 2% American Indian. Comparatively, you'll notice, our city is less diverse than the entire state. Inclusion, attraction and sustainment are potential actions we can take to enhance a culture of belonging in Lake Oswego.
"Individually and collectively we own the responsibility to build our culture of belonging in Lake Oswego. Government's role should be to deeply examine systems and then undo and change anything that creates barriers and oppression which can inhibit the culture that we want," says Manny Espinoza, a member of the Diversity, Equity, Inclusion & Access Advisory Board for the Lake Oswego School District.
You would never move to where you don't have a community of support. The first step is inclusion, based in listening and serving. It looks like the promotion of jobs and businesses that attract diverse people and families. It looks like an investment in parks, roads, safe routes to schools and pools, which make the community livable and enjoyable.
The natural result of an inclusive community is diversity. Then it's up to us as individuals to sustain that culture of belonging. As a corollary to my anecdote above, once you have moved, you certainly don't stay if you feel like you don't belong. In my corporate life, we use the term "the leaky bucket" in connection to our Diversity & Inclusion work. You can fill up the bucket all you want, but if it's leaking, it will never stay full. Sustaining this culture means each of us take responsibility for promoting belonging — this responsibility shouldn't fall on the back of those who are already feeling left out.
I am looking forward to being elected to the Lake Oswego City Council. I have worked with the current Council members for over three years through my work on the Budget Committee and I appreciate each of them and the work they've done. I look forward to working with the remaining council members in 2021 to listen to and serve our community.
Being a part of that great team, the bridge and voice between the Lake Oswego citizens and our essential services, would be a great honor. I look forward to receiving your support, endorsement, and ultimately your vote. I invite you to engage with me and see my specific plan of action at aaronrapf4lo.com, facebook.com/aaronrapf4lo, or.instagram.com/aaronrapf4lo.
Aaron Rapf is a Lake Oswego City Council candidate.
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