Our first meeting of the Northwest Coalition for Human Rights (NWCHR) is about one week away, and we’ve just posted a more detailed schedule for the meeting. This includes a list of people who will speak officially at the meeting, both to introduce the idea of NWCHR, and to give us a perspective on the history of human rights work in the Northwest. Tony Stewart of the Kootenai County Task Force on Human Relations (KCTFHR) will speak about his work with both KCTFHR, as well as the former Northwest Coalition Against Malicious Harassment. Based on his extensive experience combating hate groups and advising other human right groups throughout our region, Tony will give recommendations for building a lasting coalition. Joann Muneta of the Latah County Human Rights Task Force will then introduce the idea of creating a new regional coalition, the Northwest Coalition for Human Rights, which can help unite local human rights groups in the Northwest, with special focus on the Inland Northwest.
We’re extremely eager to hear from Joann and Tony, but we’re equally eager to hear from the many groups and individuals who have agreed to attend our meeting. Our attendees include, but are not limited to, representatives from the Bonner County Human Rights Task Force, the Spokane Human Rights Commission, Odyssey Youth Center in Spokane, the Nez Perce Tribal Executive Committee, the Human Rights Education Institute in Coeur d’Alene, Pullman’s Human Rights Commission, Moscow’s Human Rights Commission, as well as faculty and staff representatives from Gonzaga University, Eastern Washington University, Washington State University, Lewis-Clark State College, and the University of Idaho. We’re also excited to have a high number of student representatives from the University of Idaho.
Introduction Session. Our meeting will include an open introduction session between 1:15pm and 2:00pm. The Bonner County Human Rights Task Force, Odyssey Youth Center, Pullman’s Human Rights Commission, and a Gonzaga graduate student who is completing a human rights education project in Coeur d’Alene have already agreed to introduce themselves and say a few words about their current work. We welcome everyone to take a few moments to introduce themselves during this portion of the meeting, as time allows. Dr. Carmen Suarez, the Director of the University of Idaho’s Office of Human Rights, Access, & Inclusion, will act as our moderator, and will move from table to table with a wireless microphone to give everyone a chance to speak.
Breakout Session for Small Group Discussion. After the Introduction Session, Dr. Suarez will pose some questions about the formation of the new Northwest Coalition for Human Rights. Then we will break into small groups by table to discuss the questions. Each table will be asked to summarize their answers for the room at the end of the meeting, to give a general view of where we stand on the formation of the Coalition. Each participant will also have his/her own Feedback Form, which we will collect at the end of the meeting, to record individual ideas, recommendations, and concerns. The written Feedback Form is a way to make sure everyone has an opportunity to share ideas within our limited timeframe.
Questions will include: 1) What should the mission of the Coalition be? 2) What do you want from a Coalition? 3) What do you want to contribute to a Coalition?
We hope the Introduction Session and the Breakout Session will give everyone a chance to participate and make their voices heard. However, almost 100 people have sent an RSVP for this meeting, and we do apologize in advance if time seems insufficient for everyone’s remarks. Please share your ideas with us on the Feedback Form at the meeting, and we will be sure your recommendations are considered.