CRESWELL — If you were to ask me to bake you a dozen chocolate chip cookies today, I would feel confident in the quality of cookies that I placed before you. It would have melty chocolate and a nice combination of both crispy around the edges and chewy in the middle. It would be the type of cookie that you might crave in the middle of the afternoon when you’re looking for a sweet pick-me-up to power through until it is time to head home from work.
My cookie-baking skills didn’t start out that way. I remember my mom baking dozens of cookies with me as I worked to get the recipe just right. It seemed that something always went awry. I might add all brown sugar instead of a combination of granulated and brown. Sometimes I would get confused between adding baking powder and baking soda. Sometimes I melted the butter instead of adding it at room temperature. Other times I would take the cookies out of the oven too early, fearing they would burn. Learning to bake a dozen cookies took a lot of learning, unlearning, and patience from my mother. It also took a lot of “iron stomach” skills from the family as it powered through my mistakes and learning.
When I determined that I had a responsibility to learn more about power, privilege, and inclusion, my journey felt very similar to all of those times that I was learning to bake cookies with my mom. The learning was hard and I made many mistakes. I needed to become more comfortable when my friends, neighbors, and co-workers offered critique or feedback to my perceived knowledge or explain how their own lived experience growing up in another location might be different than mine. I had to read books, listen, and watch movies that helped me understand a different perspective. I had to engage in trial-and-error on my own and work with the discomfort that sometimes I would make a mistake. I had to seek out the advice of others who had gone before me. Even though I have an enthusiasm for wanting to try and know better to do better; there were still many times that I wanted to stay in my comfort zone. There were (and still are) many times when I didn’t understand why the metaphorical “cookie recipe” for making things better just wasn’t working out.
So, what do baking cookies and uncomfortable conversations about equity and inclusion have to do with the role of city government? Just like I needed to provide an opportunity for my family and friends to tell me that they didn’t like my cookies, government leaders need address concerns not just from those who are residing and doing business in the town but also those they hope to attract.
Recently I was asked how to support and grow local businesses. We have a responsibility to include businesses in our community activities. This includes making space to have conversations about how our town is perceived as unwelcoming. When you make decisions on where to shop and spend your money, do you want to go to a place that you don’t think cares about you?
Do you want to shop at a place that promises to sell a certain item but actually sells something different? Businesses, too, want to be in a city where they know they are considered and respected. A city that lives up to its mission and vision.
An African Proverb states: “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” Creswell, it is my heartfelt belief that if we want to go far – particularly thinking about words of inclusion and learning – we need to do this together. I am under no pretenses that our road will be easy or comfortable. Mistakes will be made, but we can do this. Together, we can live our mission and vision as “The Friendly City.”
Creswell mayor race – click here
Creswell City Council race – click here
Cottage Grove mayor race – click here
Chalice Savage – Cottage Grove City Council candidate
Shelly Clark – Creswell City Council candidate
Kori Rodley – Springfield City Council candidate
Ivan DelSol – Cottage Grove mayor candidate