Breckenridge Social Equity Commission members look to bring more community input into their work
As Breckenridge looks to finalize its social equity blueprint, intended to make the town more accessible for all, it’s looking for input from the community.
Behind the effort is the Social Equity Advisory Commission, composed of community members from diverse backgrounds that look to make the town as inclusive as possible.
The commission was created in summer 2020 and once it was staffed, it immediately began working on a social equity blueprint, which it is nearly close to completing. Staff and commissioners say that for this blueprint to be reflective of the community, it needs input from its members.
“We just don’t have the turnout or input from our Hispanic community members that we would like to have,” said Mackenzie Russo, the town’s community outreach and engagement liaison. “We need that kind of insight to help us start removing barriers to accessibility.”
Russo noted the commission is looking for input from who has concerns about inequity.
“Whether you have concerns about racism in the community, you want to address queer rights or you are passionate about immigrants or disabled community members, whatever your interests within inequities are, we want to hear from you,” Russo said.
Breckenridge received the results of an audit done by the Equity Project, a Denver consulting company, in 2021. Through this audit areas were identified where the town can improve. Russo took on internal affairs, while the commission took on external affairs and community outreach.
A large aspect of meeting the community outreach goals is making partnerships with local organizations.
Russo explained one of the strongest partnerships that has come out of this has been with Mountain Dreamers, a local nonprofit that supports immigrant rights.
Mountain Dreamers joined a subcommittee of the commission focused on immigration advocacy. Russo said their input has been invaluable, given the organization’s connections to many immigrants in the community.
“Currently, they’re working on putting together a guide for engaging with our Hispanic community and also helping the town establish a best practice for translation,” Russo said.
Additionally, this subcommittee is working on getting a translating device for the town’s use. Russo said this idea came from hearing about the success the Department of Motor Vehicles had with their translation devices.
These devices can translate multiple languages in real time. Its purpose would be to take down language barriers from people accessing things like municipal services.
The commission is also working with the public works department to identify things they can be doing to help non-English speakers better navigate Breckenridge, said Russo.
The group is also partnering with local organizations, such as Breck Create, to roll out initiatives for a variety of cultural events to honor various holidays and heritage months.
The commission will be hosting coffee talks throughout the fall and winter to help increase community input. Participants will have an opportunity to connect with commissioners and learn more about the work the commission is doing at the events.
Dates and locations for coffee talks will be finalized soon, according to Russo.
Anyone interested in learning more about the social equity commission, or wishes to give public comment, can attend its meetings on the third Monday of every month at town hall.
The meetings are recorded, and the community can also join via Zoom, which links to the meeting. The agenda can also be found on the town of Breckenridge’s site. Public comment runs from 8:45-9 a.m. and provides an opportunity for members of the public to express their opinions, concerns and suggestions.
There is typically a sign-up sheet for members of the public to register their intention to speak before the meeting starts. This sign-up process may be done in person at the town council chambers, or by emailing Russo at firstname.lastname@example.org in advance. The Social Equity Advisory Committee can be emailed directly at email@example.com.
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