June 29, 2022

Community Events Focused on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Events for June and July
By Northern Express Staff & Contributors | June 18, 2022

Juneteenth Celebrations
Depending on what day of the week you read this issue of the Express, you may be able to catch Northern Michigan E3’s Juneteenth events on June 18 and 19. Juneteenth is a federal holiday that honors the end of slavery in the U.S., marking the date in 1865 when the enforcement of the Emancipation Proclamation finally occurred in Texas, two years after the proclamation was signed.

E3 is hosting a 4.5k walk/run on Saturday, June 18, which starts and finishes at Right Brain Brewery. (The $20 registration covers a T-shirt, with proceeds going back to their antiracism mission.) On Sunday, June 19, a celebration will be held at Northwestern Michigan College from 1pm to 5 pm. More details on both events can be found at northernmichigane3.com.

Indigenous Art
On June 25, the Great Lakes Children’s Museum will launch a yearlong exhibit that will, over the course of 12 months, highlight four regional indigenous artists. According to Lisa Brady of GLCM, the exhibit is actually “a series of four events honoring the changing of the seasons.”

The first event, a “Summer Solstice Gathering Party,” will feature a local Native American artist who will display commissioned work and speak with a limited audience “about how they developed their work and what it means to them.” Similar events will follow for the fall, winter, and spring, featuring a different indigenous artist for each season.

The goal of the exhibit, Brady says, is “allowing the artists to help children understand the beauty and significance of each individual art medium, art piece, and artist themselves.” By spotlighting the ways in which lived experience can be channeled into art, the exhibit aims to give children a window into different cultures and to gain empathy for others.

“The biggest hurdle to creating compassion is committing to the position that every human has value and purpose,” Brady explains. “If children can begin from the position that every person in the room has something unique and valuable to bring to the conversation, we will end up with more compassionate neighbors and friends.”

A limited number of tickets will be available for the Summer Solstice Gathering Party and for future events in the GLCM series, though Brady says the segments will also be “recorded for playback at the museum” and at partner museums in Michigan.

More to Explore
Brett Sinclair, a local DEI consultant with Sonder DEI, points to numerous events and initiatives that are currently weaving topics of racial justice and equity into the fabric of the community.

One example is “The Conversation,” a four-month cohort-based program that Kathy Grinsteiner and Heather Hollick of EverGROWTH Consulting are currently in the process of wrapping up. The program has consisted of conversations, facilitated by Grinsteiner and Hollick, that focus on helping white allies find ways of “advancing racial equity and belonging” in their communities.

Another example is local photographer Michael Kent (of Allen-Kent Photography), who has been hosting a photography club that Sinclair says is all about “telling inclusive stories through film, with accessibility and inclusivity being really core to how photography-based storytelling is done moving forward.” Sinclair references a controversial Vogue cover from February 2020, which featured a group of Black models but drew criticism for lighting and color choices. “[The Vogue cover] was a case study of all of the worst ways you could ever possibly capture Black bodies in a photo,” Sinclair says. “It highlighted the need to teach artists how to capture darker skin tones.”

Finally, Sinclair identifies a partnership between Interlochen, Northwestern Michigan College, and Parallel 45 “acknowledging that there aren’t any certified hairstylists [in northern Michigan] that have a certification in textured hair.” Those three partners are working to “foster someone here locally” that can fill that gap.

 

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