Posted December 13, 2017
Editor’s note: This is the second of a two-part series. See Part 1 here.
HUDSON — The white board in the crowded room at the former library building filled with comments and concerns about what is happening in the community to enhance diversity and inclusion. At this point, it became clear to the group that change needs to happen.
Tony Bol orchestrated the discussion from the front of the room as his daughter, Yasha Bol, took notes. The discussion shifted from discrimination historic and recent to what can be done next.
The group put together a value statement. “It does not ask for money and it does not change laws,” Tony Bol said. “It asks the city of Hudson to value inclusion and embrace diversity and create a welcoming environment.”
The problem is the city government has not given this issue much attention, he said, a week before the City Council voted on Nov. 20 not to put anymore resolutions on its agenda unless five of the seven council members back it. “We wanted people to vote on it so we can be accountable,” Bol said. “We can see who votes and who doesn’t vote for inclusion. They don’t want to let it get that far. They want to kill all resolutions that are being suggested.”
As well as having trouble getting through to the city, an organization called Citizens for the St. Croix Valley opposes much of the inclusivity and diversity group’s message.
Hudson resident and Citizens for the St. Croix Valley member Pat Sabin said the divide Hudsonites are experiencing reaches global levels. “We are not experiencing some little spat on the local level. These battles are going on all over the state, our country, literally the world,” she wrote in a letter to the editor in the Hudson Star-Observer.
“Where I and other Citizens for the St. Croix Valley stand on various issues is not rooted in fear but in history, fact (research, first-hand information), wisdom and (for many) the Bible,” she wrote. “It is difficult to debate issues when the other side relies on political correctness, feelings, emotions and social justice.”
Bol doesn’t mind the backlash, he said. “We want everyone to voice themselves. We will voice our voice, and when we hear their voice, you get to know what it is they think.”
The inclusion group created a game plan of what to do next. The first thing decided was to take an inventory of diversity going on around town in churches, schools and the Hudson Hospital.
The next step is looking for partners who can help the group reach its goals, including having speakers, meetings and forums with those in positions to help, such as educators and business owners.
One member of the group suggested going door to door and having conversations about diversity and inclusion. “I like the courage in there,” Bol responded. “Not everyone can do what you’re suggesting. It takes a certain kind of person. I think it is a good challenge.”
With the room filled with those eager to help in any way they could, Bol suggested the group get to work. “There is a lot of power in this room,” he said. Letters to the editor were discussed and the consensus was that those types of letters do not always have to be negative; it is important to share positive experiences with diversity and inclusion.
The group has since been circulating a petition for diversity and inclusivity and has officially named themselves the Hudson Inclusion Alliance. They have a Facebook page where meetings and other updates are posted.