Dear Block Community,
It has come to our attention as an organization that there is criticism in our community of Block 1750 and questions about our core values and integrity. We want to assure everyone in our community that we are listening and seeking feedback and input. We are committed to change on personal and cultural levels. We wholeheartedly agree that it’s time to take inventory of the kind of culture we have built at The Block. It is our wish to create a space for all persons to dance, train, grow and belong. It breaks our heart to hear that this has not been everyone’s experience at The Block. Gender stereotypes and unacceptable normative behavior have been allowed to perpetuate. For that, we apologize to our community which is so important to us. In an effort to address, dismantle, and transform the issues that minoritarian persons face worldwide, nationally and here at home we are taking the following immediate actions:
- We are hiring a qualified, paid, professional, consultant at Creative Strategies for Change to help us remodel our organizational and educational structure with strategic planning, oversight, and training for our staff.
- We understand that it is imperative that space be made to allow anyone and everyone to come forward to address the root causes of inequities, and to cultivate sustainable practices to support greater individual and collective health, equity, and social change. We plan to establish professionally led Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion circles to address and dismantle barriers and past conduct. We invite our community to participate in these sessions once established.
- We plan to work with local groups such as Blue Sky Bridge and IMPACT Personal Safety of Colorado to work with our staff and youth students on creating active awareness, communication, boundary-setting, and other necessary skills with the hope of raising the next generation of teachers and dancers with better tools and resources.
- We have been working with a professional business consultant for the past year on mission, core values, strategic development, organization structure and policies, and implementation to ensure that our actions on a daily basis align with our principles. The current and future goals of this work include implementing reporting and feedback processes, establishing a Human Resources function and Board of Directors, crafting a code of ethics, and acclimating our whole staff to these changes.
- We are sending core staff members to CORA Good Shepherd Mediation in October, with the intention of developing restorative processes and having informed, trained, and skilled individuals on staff to facilitate direct action and support for community members.
- We acknowledge the historical inequities and imbalance in leadership at The Block, as well as the lack of structure in the business as a whole. This has meant that over the past 8 months we have implemented the first phase of our organization structure and hired a paid administrative team of primarily women and people of color, in leadership and management roles. This team meets weekly and discusses all elements of the business, from direction and strategy to daily operations.
- Taking personal inventories of our relationships, interactions and responsibilities as staff members and community leaders. Calling each other in and seeking accountability for all staff and administrators.
- We value this work with our time, resources, and focus. As an arts organization, our justice, diversity, inclusion and equity work has been in progress, and we see the immediate and pressing need to make it our top priority by implementing concrete steps to make lasting change. Block 1750 is committed to doing the work to make our community an inclusive space to learn, work and grow for all people. We have made mistakes, and we can do better. We acknowledge that while we have taken recent steps forward, there is still a tremendous amount of work to do. We invite your voices, questions and concerns with open ears, and are committed to the work of true progress and change.
- We strive to be approachable and encourage anyone and everyone to talk with us directly or anonymously (bit.ly/feedback1750) about any of your concerns, our policies, or this process. We invite you all to participate in the circles: full details will be released in our September newsletter.
This work and direction is being collaborated upon by our administrative team, made up of 7 individuals of various dance and professional backgrounds, as well as TBD Strategies. We’re very open to any and all conversations and feedback around this, and while all members of the administrative team are open to conversation, Leah Woods (email@example.com) will be the primary contact for any outreach.
Thank you sincerely,
-The Block Administrative team