To the Mile High Connects Community,
Like Deya, I too have struggled to find words to express my feelings over the last three months. They started in fear and frustration at the outset of COVID-19, and turned to grief, anger, and sadness in the wake of the murders of Elijah McClain, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and most recently George Floyd at the hands of the police. Both the pandemic and the protests exposed two things: deep structural inequities and systemic racism that black and brown communities have experienced for years. Neither is a new issue; they’re why Mile High Connects exists – to combat these issues in the Denver Metro Region. However, what is hopefully different in this moment, is that both issues are simultaneously on display, drawing attention and support from Americans across the country, capturing our collective attention.
Could it be that this pandemic has provided an opening, through which we can all move and reimagine our recovery together? My deepest hope is yes, and that Mile High Connects has a key role to play here as a steward of that process, to listen and support, which makes it truly exciting to be a part of this collaborative effort.
Since our beginnings as an organization in 2011, we have been committed to examining and increasing equity through many lenses: economic, health, racial and environmental. While this focus is not new to us, the events in the recent months serve as an important reminder that in order to truly move the needle towards a more equitable region, we must lead with racial equity and be much more explicit in that. We need to be able to recognize, name, and understand our role in perpetuating historical inequities in our communities as an important first step.
Up to now, I think we’ve shown that we can talk the talk, but as many leaders have pointed out, it’s time to get beyond talking. Equity is action. Can we also walk the walk? I would say yes, and the contents of this newsletter demonstrate that both our partners and our staff strive to walk with the communities we serve. With Deya’s leadership, we are definitely moving in the right direction. However, the current governing body (me included) is over 60% white, which means we still have work to do. The next step is being willing to ask some tough questions of ourselves: Are we structured in a way that truly represents the communities we serve? How can we continue to uphold racial equity and center black and brown communities in our work? What does a just recovery truly look like? Are we best positioned to take the organization and the Denver metro region from where it is currently, to justice, and eventually resilience?
I’d like to end with our Inspiration to Action, which is present in all the updates that follow and serves as a guiding force behind all we do. Let’s truly take advantage of this moment, and walk forward together.
Our Inspiration to Action:
A racially equitable, resilient Denver Region where community driven solutions are at the center of transformative systems change.
Chair of MHC Steering Committee
VP, Community Development Officer, Wells Fargo Foundation