West Linn Alliance Strategic Plan

SITUATION ANALYSIS 2020

ABOUT THE ALLIANCE

Our Beginnings

Formed in July 2016, the West Linn Alliance for Inclusive Community (Alliance) is a grassroots group of neighbors working to ensure that all people in West Linn have equal opportunities to participate in the quality of life that our city offers; that all of our neighbors are safe from hate crimes, abuse or harassment; and that no person or group is subjected to discrimination, bigotry, or prejudice.

In October 2017, the Alliance Outreach Committee adopted a strategic communications plan aimed at:

  1. Opening channels to talk about issues of diversity in West Linn.
  2. Forging relations with businesses and civic organizations to promote the principles of diversity and inclusion.
  3. Garnering recognition as a reliable resource in communicating about the issues of diversity and inclusion in West Linn.

Since adopting the plan, the Alliance Outreach Committee has maintained a web site and social media platforms, hosted several community Oregon Humanities Conversation Project-facilitated dialogues, procured grant funding from the City of West Linn and the Clackamas County Cultural Coalition, produced an organizational brochure and window decals for businesses, collaborated on the Multi-City Equity Summit (held in October 2019) and participated in various community events. In 2018, the Charitable Partnership Fund, a publicly supported 501(c)(3) charitable organization, became the Alliance’s fiscal agent.

Reshaping the Alliance

In mid-March 2020, Governor Kate Brown issued a stay-at-home order as a way for Oregonians to reduce their risk of COVID-19 infection and to control community spread of the disease. Since that time, the Alliance Outreach Committee began holding all committee meetings online and did not host or participate in community events during 2020. The organizational structure of the Alliance also changed. The government and education committees have merged with the former outreach committee. Now there is only one standing committee of the organization. This Committee will oversee all aspects of the new Strategic Plan. For easier name recognition, the organization will be known as the West Linn Alliance (WLA).

LOCAL OUTLOOK

Demographics of West Linn

As a community. West Linn is rather affluent and not very diverse. The city population of nearly 27,000 residents is overwhelmingly white (87%). Of the nearly 9,800 households in West Linn, about 80% are owner-occupied. Computer use is the norm, with 93% of households connected to the Internet and 97% owning computers. Over 97% of the population graduated from high school and over 60% are college educated — about twice the percentage of college graduates nationally. Median household income (in 2018 dollars) is around $104,000. Comparatively, median income in the U.S. was around $60,000 (in 2019).

Local Politics

Recent years have been politically turbulent in West Linn. Jerry Gabrielatos, the new City Manager, was hired in August 2020 after Eileen Stein was fired by the City Council in January 2020 after spending fewer than four years as City Manager. The November 2020 elections have changed the composition of the City Council with two newcomers beginning their terms in January 2021. Jules Walters, the newly elected mayor, will vacate her Council seat once she takes office in January 2021.

In December 2020, Terry Kruger, police chief for two years, was fired. This decision was made by Jerry Gabrielatos as a way to restore public confidence in the West Linn Police Department (WLPD) in the aftermath of the lawsuit by Michael Fesser, a black man from Portland who was targeted in a racially motivated arrest by WLPD in 2017. As compensation for his false arrest, the City paid Mr. Fesser $600,000 to settle his civil lawsuit. The Oregon U.S. Attorney’s Office is still investigating the case for criminal wrongdoing.

NATIONAL OUTLOOK

Social Unrest

The murder of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police on Memorial Day 2020 became a flash point for widespread protests against years of police brutality against black people and people of color without the perpetrators being held accountable. While the protests have been largely peaceful and have heightened public awareness of social justice issues due to widespread media coverage, there has been rioting and looting in some places. Counterprotests by white supremacist militias have resulted in clashes with protesters and fatal shootings.

Hate in America

Hate crime data compiled by the FBI shows steady yearly increases over the most recent four years for which there is data. From 2016 through 2019 (the most complete year of FBI data) hates crimes rose from 5,850 reported cases to 7,314 — an increase of 25 percent.

A recent Southern Poverty Law Center survey (August 2020) shows that 65% of Americans believe that racism exists and is harmful to our society and 54% of respondents believe that white supremacy, specifically, is a widespread problem in America. Of note:

The survey also revealed that respondents had a limited understanding of racism and the role it plays in American society. Only 58% of participants agreed that racism is a “specific system of beliefs and behaviors based in white superiority, whether conscious or unconscious, and results in oppression of specific people or groups.” In contrast, a definition of racism that made direct mention of prejudice, discrimination and antagonism saw agreement reach 83%

Turbulent Election Year

The 2020 presidential election had the largest voter turnout in U.S history, yet the aftermath of the election was fraught with discord amidst false claims of election fraud. This has exacerbated the political divide on the national level and has politicized States’ and individuals’ responses to coping with the COVID-19 pandemic.

COVID-19 Pandemic

In the U.S., about 375,000 people died of COVID by year’s end, and 16.5 million Americans became infected, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) data. The U.S. economy suffered its highest level of unemployment since the Great Depression, with a record drop in the gross domestic product (GDP) in the second quarter of 31.4% as businesses shut down due to stay-at-home orders. As of mid-December, Oregon reported close to 93,000 COVID-19 cases, with 1,150 deaths. In Clackamas County there were over 10,000 reported COVID -10 cases, with 155 deaths. West Linn had nearly 500 COVID-19 cases and few deaths according to the County’s Public Health Division data.

The pandemic has affected people of color disproportionately, with about four times the hospitalization rate and close to three times the death rate compared to white people according to CDC data. The emergency authorization of vaccines by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. means that health care workers and people in nursing homes will have priority for receiving inoculations in the next few months. At the request of the National Institutes of Health and the CDC, the National Academy of Science, Engineering and Medicine is devising a framework of criteria to set priorities for equitable distribution of the vaccine, taking into account factors such as population health disparities; individuals at higher risk because of health status, occupation, or living conditions; and geographic distribution of active virus spread. Depending on the success of the vaccination rollout, it will likely take the U.S. a year to achieve some level of herd immunity against COVID-19.

LOOKING AHEAD

The global pandemic of 2020 has transformed ways of life across the world — from illness and death, to shuttered businesses and unemployment rates not seen since the Great Depression, to controversies over mask wearing and social distancing. The issues of inequity and systemic racism have been unmasked in mainstream media as never before, and the election of a new President opens the door for change in tone and national policies. Due to the heightened awareness of struggles affecting black people and persons of color, there is more interest by white people on understanding how they help move society toward justice and social change. Education and outreach on inclusion, diversity, equity and accessibility are significant contributions that WLA can make toward changing attitudes and practices in West Linn.

For WLA, 2020 been a time to reassess goals and reemerge as a stronger organization focused on effectiveness, which management guru Peter Drucker defined as “doing the right things well.” These “right things” are WLA’s assets and building blocks. They include:

  1. Committee consolidation
  2. Ability to work in a virtual environment
  3. Web and social media presence
  4. Established relationships with the West Linn/Wilsonville School Board and the WestLinn Library
  5. Program development know-how
  6. Fiscal accountability

WLA has set two audacious goals in this strategic plan:

  1. Become a leading agent of change regarding diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility in West Linn.
  2. Educate the community on diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility issues and their relevance for life in West Linn.

In working toward these goals, the following points should be kept in mind.

  1. Building relationships with City Council members, the Mayor, the City Manager and the City’s newly hired consultant on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (The Kenley Group) will be important to advocating for diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility in City institutions and in the hiring process of the new police chief.
  2. West Linn is a one newspaper city, and WLA has limited access to getting coverage of issues and events. However, almost all West Linn residents are connected to the Internet. This means that we need to develop a more robust web and social media presence to engage people. The challenge of maintaining social distancing during the pandemic has opened new possibilities of holding virtual meetings and streaming programs to reach a wider audience.
  3. According to WFG National Title Company’s market trend report (December 2020),
    58 percent of West Linn homeowners have owned their homes for less than 10 years and 44 percent have owned homes for six years or less. This large turnover rate in homeownership is significant: key WLA messages need to be kept alive and programs repeated to gain more traction.
  4. A particular challenge is developing relationships in West Linn’s business community to encourage IDEA practices as a way to build patronage.

THE PLAN

ABOUT THE PLAN

This strategic plan is a roadmap for realizing our vision of life in West Linn over time. Our mission is our purpose in coming together to make the transformation a reality. Our goals are targets of where we want to be by 2025. Our strategies are our pathways toward those goals; the correlated tactics are mileposts along the way.

VISION

West Linn is a safe, welcoming place for all.

MISSION

To address racism and discrimination in our midst so that we can build a community of collaboration and belonging.

GOALS

We are moving toward the following goals:

  • Become a leading agent of change regarding diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility in West Linn.
  • Educate the community on diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility issues and their relevance for life in West Linn.

AUDIENCES

To achieve our goals, we need to communicate and engage with the following groups:

City officials & staff

Residents

Neighborhood associations and homeowner associations

Business leaders and employees/organizations

Community, civic and religious groups/organizations

School officials and educators

Allied organizations in neighboring communities

Nonprofits focused on diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility

Media outlets

STRATEGIES & TACTICS

Our strategic approach and implementation tactics align with each of our two goals. As much as possible the tactics include measurements and milestones to keep us on target.

Goal #1 Become a leading agent of change regarding diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility in West Linn

Strategy 1: Revamp internal structure of WLAOrganizational Tactics

Strengthen organizational structure — medium term

o Develop guidelines for participation in Committee — medium term

o Define role of chair/facilitator — medium term


o Increase number of web administrators from one to three — medium term 

o Solicit participation in WLA subcommittees as needed — ongoing

Standardize WLA branding — medium term
o Develop a style guide for print and web media o Apply consistent ‘look & feel’ across all media

Develop by-laws – long term

Strategy 2: Advocate for diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility in institutions

Advocacy Tactics

Lobby for a human rights commission at the City level — long term 

o Discuss with City Manager at WLA meeting in January 2021

o Discuss with individual City Councilors at future WLA meetings 

o Aim for authorization by City Council in 2022

Encourage the City to promote civility and respect in its operations — medium term

Propose customer service training for staff and city officials to City Manager — medium term

o Reinforce code of conduct with City officials (?)

Persuade the City to address systemic racism and other discrimination — long term

Determine what City is doing with regard to these issues — long term

If necessary, benchmark best management practices in other jurisdiction — long term

o Make proposal to City Council on BMPs — long term

Promote diversity, equity, inclusion, and policies/practices in West Linn Police Department


o Advocate for transparency in hiring of new police chief — short term 

o Support work of oversight commission after it’s established— medium term

Promote inclusion, diversity, equity and accessibility policies/practices in West Linn schools — ongoing


o Encourage adoption of a reporting system that is clear, simple, and specific to hate speech/acts

o Encourage development of clear guidelines for how school officials address hate speech/acts

o Continue support for the West Linn High School United/Unity Club in their outreach to West Linn middle schools.

o Continue support for the West Linn High School Gender & Sexuality Alliance.

o Follow agendas of West Linn-Wilsonville School District Board meetings

❖ As appropriate, comment at Board meetings, write to Board members, and make public statements

Strategy 3: Collaborate with other diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility groups/organizations

Collaboration Tactics

Identify local groups

o Develop contact list — short term

o Contact leaders and set up regular meetings for information sharing — medium term

o Plan future joint events — long term

Goal #2 Educate the community on diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility issues and their relevance for life in West Linn

Strategy 1: Expand presence in the community

Community Outreach Tactics

Increase size and scope of audience — long term

o Develop relationship with neighborhood associations/HOAs

o Participate in community events

o Create art-based community events

o Utilize resources, such as the Oregon Humanities Conversation Project, for outreach and education

Increase participation in WLA activities — long term

o Double our mailing list

o Create a monthly diversity, equity, inclusion, and action list by o Publicize success stories

Identify and collaborate with West Linn businesses to better provide inclusive customer service — long term

o Collaborate with the West Linn Chamber of Commerce and Rotary Club of West Linn to promote diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility to their members

o Encourage workshops/speakers on inclusive customer service

❖ Identify resources for such workshops/speakers

o Develop distribution plan for sticker/decal/clings: All people are welcome here

Evaluate website and social media presence — medium term 

o Review current website/Facebook content

o Develop guidelines for content and posting

Strategy 2: Develop & evaluate education programs

Community Education Tactics

Co-sponsor programs with West Linn Library


o Develop Book/Film Discussion Group — short term


o Develop diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility events — long term

Coordinate programs/workshops on diversity, equity, inclusion topics o Research options — medium term

o Create annual schedule — long term

Continue partnership with West Linn Lutheran Church — long term

Collect contact information from participants at all events — short term

Evaluation Tactics

Devise and implement participant surveys for each event — short term

Discuss lessons learned in Committee after each event — short term

Track number of contacts at community events — short term