No comment from governor on Burlington policy requiring diversity agreement for community gardeners
By Guy Page
IDEAL Vermont, a new state office highlighted by Governor Phil Scott at his weekly press conference today, has helped persuade 83 municipalities comprising 56% of Vermonters to sign a Declaration of Inclusion.
IDEAL stands for Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, Action, Leadership, according to its State of Vermont website. It is funded by $250,000 in the state budget (pg. 8), where its stated mission is “to support municipalities in promoting the named municipalities.” Its four partners are:
- Vermont Community Foundation, the state’s largest non-profit funding umbrella organization.
- Vermont League of Cities and Towns, an advocacy organization for municipalities.
- Abundant Sun, a consulting firm of “business strategists, data analysts, economists, bankers, psychotherapists, organizational developers and performing artists committed to justice on all levels.” Founded in England in 2003, it expanded to the U.S. in 2015 with a Vermont base 2015 Abundant Sun expands to the U.S. with a home base in Vermont, USA. In 2020 Abundant Sun partnered with Vermont Business for Social Responsibility (VBSR), to bring its inaugural Ethical Performance Improvement Campaign (E.P.I.C.) Education Series to Vermont businesses dedicated to improving their organizational justice performance.
- Vermont Declaration of Inclusion, a grassroots organization begun after the George Floyd murder by Bob Harnish of Pittsford and Al Wakefield, a retired black Rutland resident and restaurant owner. Its goal is to see every Vermont municipality sign a Declaration of Inclusion, and it’s well on its way. On October 25, the Vermont Declaration of Inclusion initiative reportedly reached the milestone of exceeding 50% of Vermont residents residing in municipalities that have adopted a Declaration of Inclusion.
Today, the VDI website boasts of 83 towns with 55.8% of all Vermonters. The Declaration reads in part: “The Town of ______________ condemns racism and welcomes all persons, regardless of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, gender identity or expression, age, disability, or socioeconomic status, and wants everyone to feel safe and welcome in our community.” Municipalities supporting the Declaration are:
Essex Junction Village
Isle La Motte
St. Albans City
Governor Scott was asked by Vermont Daily Chronicle: “Burlington’s Racial Equity, Inclusion & Belonging office has developed an official policy of limiting access to the city-owned Burlington Area Community Gardens to people who will sign a document declaring personal support for diversity, equity and inclusion. What do you think of diversity programs and policies that deny access to public services for people who won’t sign statements of agreement?”
Gov. Scott responded: “We need inclusion on all levels. I don’t know about the policies you are speaking of.”
“I would want to know more about the policy before I comment on it,” state diversity official Xusanna Davis said.
Categories: Local government