Human Relations Commission of Asheville gets to work

Members of the new Human Relations Commission of Asheville sit down for their first meeting at the Dr. Wesley Grant Sr. Southside Center.
AT THE TABLE: Members of the new Human Relations Commission of Asheville sit down for their first meeting at the Dr. Wesley Grant Sr. Southside Center. Photo by Daniel Walton

Member DeLores Venable drew nods of approval from around the room as she summed up her reasons for joining the Human Relations Commission of Asheville at the group’s first meeting, held on June 14 at the Dr. Wesley Grant Sr. Southside Center. “One of the reasons that I came home is because Asheville is one of the greatest places that I know on earth,” she said. “I want my people to live just as beautifully as their surroundings.”

The 14 members of the HRCA hope to bring about that beauty through their work on human relations and equity throughout Asheville’s government. As laid out by a special Council-appointed Blue Ribbon Committee (see “Human Relations Commission holds first meeting on Thursday,” avl.mx/51r), the group will serve as a bridge between the community and city leadership, as well as recommend policies for Council to adopt.

The group’s diverse composition, shaped by BRC recommendations, was specifically chosen to represent African-American, Latinx, LGTBQ, youth, public housing resident, disabled and community leader perspectives. Its current members include Venable, Mychal Bacoate, Michael Carter, John B. Christensen, Patrick Conant, Ashley Cooper, Pearl DeBellott, Tiffany DeBellott, Gabrielle Fricke, Anne Greene, Davidson Jones, Christine Longoria, Sarah Williams and Chris Winebrenner. Council is still accepting applications for a 15th and final member.

Mychal Bacoate, middle left, shares his views with fellow Human Relations Commission of Asheville members Patrick Conant and Ashley Cooper, as well as city Equity and Inclusion Manager Kimberlee Archie.
TALK IT OUT: Mychal Bacoate, middle left, shares his views with fellow Human Relations Commission of Asheville members Patrick Conant and Ashley Cooper, as well as city Equity and Inclusion Manager Kimberlee Archie. Photo by Daniel Walton

Moving forward, the group will meet on the the third Thursday of every month at a location yet to be determined. Equity and Inclusion Manager Kimberlee Archie will serve as the commission’s staff liaison, while Council member Keith Young will act as Council’s liaison. Unique among city boards and commissions, the HRCA will have the dedicated support of a city staffer from Archie’s office beginning early next year, pending approval of the city’s 2018-19 budget.

HRCA members decided not to choose officers at their first meeting, agreeing that they needed more time to become familiar with each other and make informed decisions. They also did not set a date for the commission retreat, at which they hope to hash out their rules and procedures, priorities and first-year workplan.

That cautious beginning matched Young’s advice to the group as the meeting drew to a close. While he called the HRCA “the most important citizen board that we have as of this moment,” he encouraged the members to consider its work one step at a time. “Don’t feel like you have to conquer the world in one sitting, because you will burn yourself out.”

SHARE
About Daniel Walton
Daniel Walton is the Green Scene editor and city government beat reporter for Mountain Xpress. His work has previously appeared in Capital at Play, Edible Asheville, and the Citizen-Times, among other area publications. Follow me @DanielWWalton

Before you comment

The comments section is here to provide a platform for civil dialogue on the issues we face together as a local community. Xpress is committed to offering this platform for all voices, but when the tone of the discussion gets nasty or strays off topic, we believe many people choose not to participate. Xpress editors are determined to moderate comments to ensure a constructive interchange is maintained. All comments judged not to be in keeping with the spirit of civil discourse will be removed and repeat violators will be banned. See here for our terms of service. Thank you for being part of this effort to promote respectful discussion.

2 thoughts on “Human Relations Commission of Asheville gets to work

  1. Enlightened Enigma

    This BS is NOT a function of our city government and the taxpayer waste is an OUTRAGE.

    • boatrocker

      Arrrrrrrrgh TAXY McTAXES!
      Do you feel passionately about any other issues
      in this big ol’ First World Problem world?
      Do you draw Social Security off what I pay in that you collect that what
      Baby Boomers will destroy and I’ll never collect on?
      See, I can obsess too.

      Maybe Asheville might get competent economic
      oversight and police transparency if that matters.

      If you really needed another hobby and wanted to stay in the basement,
      try model trains.

Leave a Reply

To leave a reply you may Login with your Mountain Xpress account, connect socially or enter your name and e-mail. Your e-mail address will not be published. All fields are required.