As we begin to grow and build relationships with communities across Washington, we wanted to share a little bit about how this work is unfolding. Our commitment to center the lived experience of those most impacted by health inequities means we are making intentional decisions about the places we go and the people we meet. We have been working on articulating our evolving approach to ensure we are guided by our values and holding ourselves accountable. Our approach is iterative and continuously informed by those we meet in communities.
Since October, we have visited 21 counties and 11 sovereign nations across Washington. In each visit, we have learned the many ways people are showing up for one another. We hear what people are excited about and of what they are proud. We hear how communities are using culture to reconnect and heal from the traumas of oppression. We also hear how people are turning the energy and love within a community, into community power by challenging and transforming the larger institutions and systems that impact people’s daily lives.
The organizations and tribal nations with whom we have met have been generous in their time. They have also been candid about what their community is experiencing. Groups have been clear that they do not represent nor speak for the whole community. They have reminded us that if Group Health Foundation is going to stay true to our values of equity and ensuring communities are leading solutions, then we need to be in it for the long haul.
We recognize the inherent power dynamics that we hold as a foundation. The relationships we build and the ability to develop long-term partnerships with communities is central to our work. Our relationships with communities across the state are just beginning. There are many people we have yet to meet, and we are committed to returning and building on the many conversations we have started. We are working to center our learning and build relationships with communities most impacted by oppression, including communities of color, tribal nations, LGBTQ people, immigrants and refugees, people with disabilities, and people with low-incomes. We know this takes intentionality and the need to reflect and refine when we learn how we show up in a community isn’t working.
We welcome your thoughts on our approach, what we are missing, and whether you feel this approach will help us develop meaningful relationships with communities. In the spirit of transparency and greater learning, we welcome your feedback.