Can’t be by chance that the men of the River Forest Village Board were so fully focused, Monday night, on the process by which a group of volunteers had been assembled by two board colleagues this spring and summer to discuss issues of equity in town. Certainly isn’t by chance that the women on the board were the ones who had invited and welcomed the participation of those volunteers and wanted them included now as the village government works to formalize its equity efforts.
The debate Monday — during an ambitious village board discussion of how to build a village focused on equity issues — got somewhat stuck on whether the informally gathered but already formed citizen group should be the core of a new village commission to advise staff and the board on equity.
Veteran Trustee Tom Cargie defended his concern saying, “I’m not normally a process guy, but here the process failed.”
What process failed, Trustee Cargie? Looks like a win from here. You have a dozen citizens ready to go, self-selected and reflecting the growing, but still elusive, diversity of the village.
Cargie and the other male trustees complained that this group had been formed only to work on the Twin Cities Covenant, the groundbreaking pact between River Forest and Maywood. So as long as they were sequestered on a special project, maybe it was OK? But making them central to a full-throated discussion of equity in the village requires what? That the mostly white village board recruit the people of color they’d like to see discussing equity?
Credit to trustees Erika Bachner and Katie Brennan for doing the nearly impossible in gathering these volunteers up in the first place. Credit to Trustee Patty Henek for backing up the trustees. And credit to Village President Cathy Adduci for stating the obvious. A core of a committee was in place, trustees were welcome to nominate others to join in and let’s keep talking.
The path to equity goes through the discomfort of white people. And in this case, it seems to us, that the mostly white men on the board looked for the protection of “process” to avoid that discomfort.