By Gregory Davis
RBAC sits at many tables. These tables correspond with work RBAC does in regards to public safety, food justice, economic development, education etc. One of the tables that uniquely cuts across various issues is Communities of Opportunity. RBAC is a member of the Rainier Valley Communities of Opportunity Steering Committee RV COO and operates programming using Communities of Opportunity funding. We are joined at this table by Multicultural Communities MCC, On Board Othello OBO and South Communities Organizing for Regional and Racial Justice South CORE with Homesight serving as the formal grantee and provider of fiscal sponsoring services. We also have a Coalition Coordinator, Haregu Kidane, whom you met in a previous E-News.
Each year for the last three years RBAC has received about $80,000 to support the Corner Greeter program and about $50,000 to support the Farm Stand/Food Justice work we do. This is referred to as “implementation work.” RBAC also receives about $50,000 a year for building capacity within the organization–it is called “backbone funding.”
Over the last three years, the implementation funding assisted the Corner Greeter program in conducting over 36 events per year, train 15 young adults in non-arrest crime intervention practices, and engage 5 new partners. It also assisted the Farm Stand work in conducting up to 18 events per year, contracted with 10 local, POC farmers and distributed 2,000 pound of food. As you can see, great work is being done that is supported by King County through the Communities of Opportunity initiative and Best Start for Kids Levy. I am sure you remember approving that on the ballot a few years back.
As it often happens when collaborating and doing work in coalitions, conflict among partner organizations and individuals can occur. The Rainier Valley Communities of Opportunity Steering Committee is no exception, and is no different than any other group of people or group of organizations doing work in Seattle on behalf of equity, social justice and in support of vulnerable populations. We have had conflict occur in our ranks which have harmed people and relationships. It appears our reputation has been harmed as well. In an effort to create our own narrative about our situation we have crafted a Community of Opportunities Rainier Valley Public Statement. The agreement we arrived at is that we distribute this statement and inform the world that while we are not perfect and have experienced conflict, it is not keeping us from the greater good of making a difference in our communities. There may be those who question it, critique it, wonder what it means, or why it was necessary. While this may not be the perfect statement, it is our statement. It is our statement to live into and to abide by. If you have any questions do not hesitate to contact me at: 206.420.1010.
Rainier Valley Communities of Opportunities public statement issue May 29, 2020.
“Like all coalitions attempting to defy the odds and build power and economic stability in working-class communities of color, Rainier Valley Communities of Opportunity partners have run into disagreements that are a microcosm of the societal problems we are working to change, and we are not alone in experiencing this.
We recognize that conflict is a natural and expected element of any coalition, and confronting conflict rather than avoiding it is the way we will grow our relationships and our capacity to do this work, and how we will proceed.
We are committed to each member’s success and believe in each other as skilled leaders in community development. As such, we are in the process of working out the details of how we will encourage, support and engage in conflict resolution processes, and how we will adjust to meet the demands of our individual missions and shared goals in light of our current challenges.”