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Northwoods JEDI launches community of practice to support equity and inclusion in the Northwoods

Northwoods JEDI
ArtStart Rhinelander

The murder of George Floyd in 2020 rocked the world. Protests erupted on city streets. Debates played out on a national stage.

But the scene in northern Wisconsin looked different.

“A lot of us were wondering, what does that conversation look like in a rural area? What does it look like in the Northwoods? And what is needed up here?” said Melinda Childs, the community and cultural development director for ArtStart and one of the founding members of Northwoods JEDI.

Northwoods JEDI formed when four organizations – ArtStart, WXPR, the Demmer Library in Three Lakes, and the Let’s Minocqua Chamber and Visitors’ Bureau – came together with the mission of supporting justice, equity, diversity and inclusion in the Northwoods.

They started a conversation, and now they want more people to join in, so they’re launching a community of practice.

“What we’re trying to do is just deepen the dialogue around it,” Childs said. “I think there’s so much information out there and so many opinions being shared, and I’m not always sure how much of it is actually grounded in history or any form of study, other than just an emotional response. So, our focus is really on the education and the conversation.”

Northwoods JEDI hired a consultant to develop a 10-session curriculum centered on diversity, equity and inclusion in rural areas.

All community members are invited to participate and can do so in person or virtually.

“The goal is to have it be a safe space to learn together and work some of these things out together because it can be a hard conversation,” Childs said.

Sessions will take place at ArtStart the second Thursday of each month from 4 to 6 p.m.

Registration for Northwoods JEDI’s community of practice is open through October 10.

Erin Gottsacker worked at WXPR as a Morning Edition host and reporter from December 2020 to January 2023. During her time at the station, Erin reported on the issues that matter most in the Northwoods.
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