June 19, 2020 – Juneteenth / Freedom Day
Today is Juneteenth, also known as Freedom Day, which commemorates when the last remaining slaves in the nation were emancipated on June 19, 1865. It serves as a reminder of how long the Black community has been fighting for equity, justice and their constitutional rights as citizens of this nation. Today also marks over 20 consecutive days of nation-wide protests demanding equal justice for the Black community.
Our firm is grieving over the senseless killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Rayshard Brooks, and countless others. We stand with the Black Lives Matter movement against systemic racism and the oppression of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC). We acknowledge that we need to do more.
The way that we conduct our business and the designs we produce are opportunities for activism and advocacy. We need to be actively anti-racist and take steps accordingly to provide equity, inclusivity, and cultural competence education so that we can remove barriers for BIPOC in the field of architecture and design with cultural context.
This is how we start:
- Commit to equitable practices in the firm, which removes barriers that are unique to BIPOC and LGBTQ+.
- Provide education for our staff in cultural awareness, knowledge, and sensitivity to increase cultural competency as it relates to our work and community.
- Donate to and supplement staff donations to nonprofits that serve BIPOC and LGBTQ+ communities.
- Purchase from local BIPOC-owned small businesses whenever possible to increase the distribution of wealth.
- Advocate for sustainable design on behalf of marginalized communities that are disproportionately impacted by climate change and other environmental issues.
- Engage and hire minority- and women-owned consulting firms whenever possible.
- Participate and engage with BIPOC communities to strengthen our community ties.
- Contribute to a scholarship fund for BIPOC in the field of architecture and design.
- Continue to work with Soderstrom’s internal Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion committee to define measurable goals to hold ourselves accountable for positive change.
- Audit our progress with an Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion consultant to monitor our goals.
We also want to mention our support and gratitude for the following non-profit groups providing critical services to our community:
- National Organization of Minority Architects (NOMA) – San Francisco – as a collective of architects, their goal is to increase the level of participation in the social, political, and economic benefits afforded the citizens of this nation and to tear down the barriers that make full participation unattainable.
- Partners in Diversity – provides educational programs, job postings and distribution of information for CEOs and for those who work in human resources or in diversity roles.
- Oregon Association of Minority Entrepreneurs (OAME) – a non-profit organization with a mission to promote and develop entrepreneurship and economic development for ethnic minorities in the State of Oregon & SW Washington.
- Local Business Chambers of Commerce – groups that provide scholarships, leadership training programs, board involvement and community volunteerism to developing businesses and minority businesses.
- American Institute of Architects (AIA) – Portland Chapter – Committee on Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (CoEDI) – expands the Chapter’s commitment to efforts impacting equity, diversity and inclusion across our community of members through programs that address leadership development, workplace culture, design excellence, education and career development through broad community engagement.
- Architecture Foundation of Oregon (AFO)
- Hip Hop Architecture – a one-week intensive experience, designed to introduce underrepresented youth to architecture, urban planning, creative place making and economic development through the lens of hip hop culture.
- Architects in Schools – aims to do just that: introduce the youngest Oregonians to the power and possibilities of design with the end goal of creating lifelong learners and critical thinkers who have a voice in their community.
- Bradley Angle – critical community resource for individuals and children experiencing domestic violence in Portland.
- Growing Gardens – Portland – uses the experience of growing food in schools, backyards, and correctional facilities to cultivate healthy and equitable communities.
- Oregon Food Bank – strives to eliminate hunger in Oregon, and also address the root causes of hunger through public policy, nutrition and garden education, and public awareness.
With hope for the future,