July 10, 2020
Dear Hidden Villa Community,
I hope this letter finds you and your loved ones well and healthy.
Typically at this time, Hidden Villa is alive with summer campers and their counselors, filling the air with their songs, laughter, and squeals of excitement as they enjoy new experiences at Hidden Villa. But, as we all know, this summer and these times are exceptional.
This summer, the world has united in protest against systemic racism and violence against Black people. I am inspired by the deep reflection rippling across the country, exploring both who we are and who we aspire to be. My personal reflections have led me to listen more, speak less, and commit to learning. With humility, I acknowledge that in order to fight against systemic racism, we must all take action, myself included.
In early June, we shared our support of the Black Lives Matter movement and our commitment to actively address, uproot and prevent systemic racism. We invite you to share your feedback and ideas, and hold our organization accountable. I write now to share an update about our progress in building an action plan around anti-racism, diversity, equity, and inclusion as an organization, knowing this is only the beginning.
We have formed a J.E.D.I. (Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion) Council composed of a representative group of staff and Board members. They have been empowered by the Hidden Villa Board, leadership, and staff to provide guidance and structure for preventing systemic racism and actively contributing to social justice and equity as an organization.
As you’ve likely experienced, conversations around race and systemic racism are challenging, and require trust, patience, and time. The J.E.D.I. Council is currently focusing on building relationships within the group. We recognize the immediate needs for safety, security and liberty for Black and Indigenous folks and People of Color, and we are committed to creating a stable foundation so we may act consciously and thoughtfully.
That being said, we have identified the following initial steps:
- D.E.I. (Diversity, Equity and Inclusion) training for our leadership team
- Hiring a D.E.I. consultant to guide our process for change
- Supporting/encouraging organizational conversations and learnings.
We acknowledge that creating a more equitable and diverse Hidden Villa will only happen if everyone is committed to doing the work. This will require a culture that can hold varying perspectives and experiences. We are beginning this work in smaller groups, through antiracism challenges, sharing resources, and stories of learning.
We will continue to seek help from outside experts, to reach out to our community partners and supporters, and embrace what we learn into our new organizational culture and strategy. This is only the beginning of our journey, which we know will be continuous. I am proud of the commitment of our community. And as we continue this process, we welcome your input and feedback through this form.
We commit to continuing to share our progress and journey with you.
With best wishes,