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In an effort to improve law enforcement’s relationship with the community, Humboldt County jail staff today underwent training to recognize and prevent bias and to boost cultural awareness, according to sheriff’s office public information specialist Samantha Karges.
[article by Will Houston, Eureka Times-Standard]
sheriff’s office’s programs coordinator Vanessa Vrtiak said the training was not prompted by any incident of bias by sheriff’s office staff, but was rather a proactive step to prevent it from occurring. Vrtiak said there is a need to bridge a gap between law enforcement and the communities it serves, especially in the context of the nationwide attention on police shootings, discrimination and misconduct.
“There are all these tragic stories about people of color that are being killed by police officers and the trust truly has been broken,” Vrtiak said. “And whatever we can do to try and rebuild that trust — I mean if it’s a training like this and hopefully in the future it will be more things we can do — but this is kind of just the start.”
Vrtiak said the training is also important for building cultural awareness, especially because the jail has a high number of Native American inmates.
Humboldt County Chief Probation Officer Bill Damiano said that his probation officers and sheriff’s office jail staff are not required to undergo bias and cultural diversity training like police officers and sheriff’s deputies. However, Damiano said this cultural awareness and bias training has still been held every year in his 29 years with the department.
Damiano said training is only as effective as its ability to be used in real-life situations. Damiano said local tribes and other ethnic groups have unique experiences when dealing with law enforcement agencies, and therefore more dialogue is needed to truly address any biases that exist.
“Until we had those conversations, it didn’t matter what kind of training I had,” Damiano said.
‘A VERY DISTURBING NOTION’
Gathered in the jail briefing room today, a group of about 15 county jail personnel listened to and at times debated the issues of bias with the two instructors: Humboldt Area Foundation Leadership Program Manager and Equity Alliance of the North Coast member Ronald White and Humboldt State University professor of sociology Jennifer Eichstedt.
Eichstedt said they interviewed some of the jail staff prior to the training session about their views on bias, whether it is intentional or an unconscious bias. Many of those they interviewed did not believe they were acting with bias, Eichstedt said, and staff expressed during the training session that they treat all the inmates the same.
“It’s hard to believe when you consciously feel that you’re really, really committed to fairness to also think that you could be acting on biases,” Eichstedt said. “It’s a very disturbing notion because it really challenges your sense of yourself as fair, and nobody likes that. We all really want to see ourselves as fair people.”
At the training, Eichstedt and White would ask correctional staff to talk about what makes them proud about their own identity and whether their identity makes work difficult in any way. Some staff expressed how inmates who were being reprimanded for behavior would pull out a “race card” and ask whether they are being targeted because they are of a certain race.
Some jail staff debated the effectiveness of one exercise where groups were asked to identity positive characteristics about certain races and identities. Some jail staff questioned why some groups were not included in the discussion. Other jail staff questioned whether they were stereotyping these groups even if it was for positive reasons. White said the goal of the exercise was to provide a counter to the negative stereotypes that they may hold.
White said the training is only the beginning step to recognizing that bias is “something that is part of all us.”
“How we begin to approach it and deal with it helps us actually perform our jobs better and helps us in our social interactions,” White said. “Specifically, we’re going to be going through some de-biasing techniques and encouraging them to think through on how to be more conscious and look at the biases that they have.”
White said that after knowledge comes implementation.
“The ultimate goal is for the institution to begin to ask the right kinds of questions about inequities that might occur in our system and put together a plan of action to address them,” White said.
The sheriff’s office is set to hold four more training sessions for jail staff Jan. 3 and Jan. 12.
STATE AND LOCAL APPROACHES
California prohibits racial or identity profiling and requires a state commission to provide guidelines and review how state and local law enforcement agencies are trained to prevent bias.
The state’s Racial and Identity Profiling Act of 2015 created a board to investigate how state and local agencies address profiling and bias. The act also requires agencies to submit data to the Department of Justice on all stops — meaning any detention or search — they make in the coming years.
The law also requires law enforcement to collect data on citizen complaints about racial or identity profiling.
The Racial and Identity Profiling Advisory Board released its first annual report Dec. 29, providing an overview of the new requirements and survey data about how law enforcement agencies are addressing profiling and complaints about profiling.
Fortuna Police Chief Bill Dobberstein said they are gearing up for the new requirements, with his department and others in the county having to submit data starting in 2023.
Dobberstein said his officers and peace officers throughout the state are already required to undergo at least two hours of bias training every two years. Bias training is also included as part of a three-day training program at College of the Redwoods Police Academy, Dobberstein said.
Dobberstein said he believes the current training program is effective and that they have received no complaints about identity profiling.
“That would be handled very swiftly internally in the department,” Dobberstein said.
Eureka Police Chief Steve Watson said that Patrol Sgt. Ed Wilson and Field Training Officer Corrie Watson attended a three-day training session in November at the California State University Long Beach Center for Criminal Justice.
“They are currently creating an in-house training workshop for our entire department and will be presenting this early this year,” Watson wrote in an email to the Times-Standard.
[article by Kym Kemp, Redheaded Blackbelt]
In response to the devastating Helena Fire that hit the community of Junction City last fall, Senator Mike McGuire, The Humboldt Area Foundation, the County of Trinity, the Trinity Journal, Trinity County Supervisor Judy Morris and Humboldt County Supervisor Rex Bohn came together to establish the Trinity County Fire Relief Fund.
(Story by Sierra Jenkins, Lost Coast Outpost)
CLICK HERE TO VIEW THE VIDEO
'Tis the season of giving … and for Humboldt’s Holiday Funding Partnership, it’s the season of giving grants!
“Meeting the National Standards benchmarks is a rigorous, comprehensive process,” said Randy Royster, Chair of the Community Foundations National Standards Board. “This accreditation is a significant accomplishment that indicates Humboldt Area Foundation demonstrates a commitment to transparency, quality, integrity and accountability as it carries out its mission.”
Founded in 1972 by Vera Vietor, Humboldt Area Foundation has over 700 funds established by donors to advance the causes most important to them. National Standards also apply to Humboldt Area Foundation’s two geographic affiliates, Wild Rivers Community Foundation (serving Del Norte and Curry Counties) and the Trinity Trust. In addition to providing grants to individuals and nonprofits, HAF provides support to the Northern California Association of Nonprofits and offers a variety of support services including a nonprofit resource center and meeting rooms. . In addition to affirming the organization’s philanthropic services, the accreditation validates Humboldt Area Foundation’s grantmaking practices for
the nonprofit community.
National Standards for U.S. Community Foundations® is the first program of its kind for charitable
foundations in the United States. Humboldt Area Foundation promotes and encourages generosity, leadership and inclusion to strengthen our communities.
The Community Foundations National Standards Board is a supporting organization of the Council on Foundations
and is responsible for the quality, value and integrity of compliance with National Standards. For more information on
the National Standards Board, visit its website at www.cfstandards.org.
(via the Times-Standard)
The $1,500 donation combined with grant funding through Humboldt Area Foundation makes it possible for some on the home-delivered meal route to receive a white bag hand-decorated by students at Cutten-Ridgewood Schools.
When they open it, they find treats like fudge and candy along with everything they need for a nutritious meal.
Humboldt Senior Resource Center Nutrition & Activities Program Director Barbara Walser said sometimes it’s the only gift seniors will receive this holiday season.
“For some this can be a difficult time of year,” Walser said, “So for our home-delivered meal participants it’s that driver bringing a touch of the season, a smile and a happy holiday to their home. And it let’s them know that the community that they live in cares about them.”
Native Cultures Fund is dedicated to supporting California’s original peoples, their art and revitalization of culture. Preference will be given for grants involving (1) new art created by Native artists, (2) cultural mentorship between generations, and/or (3) creation of a cultural model that can be shared. Everything from traditional art and culture to contemporary art projects or programs are eligible. Individuals or community partnerships may apply.
Examples of eligible art:
o Contemporary visual arts
o Multi-media productions
o Storytelling workshops
o Radio or video productions
o Theater productions
o Sacred sites rehabilitation or construction
A partnership may consist of members of one cultural group or it may involve an inter-tribal, inter-cultural or urban-rural collaboration. The project must occur within the service area. Partnerships should be based on reciprocal relationships, consensus building and cultural models of ownership. Oral histories and language materials cannot be owned by the professional artists in community partnerships.
To apply and learn more about the Fund’s eligibility requirements please visit hafoundation.org/nativeculturesfund or call Humboldt Area Foundation, (707) 442-2993.
About Native Cultures Fund:
Initiated and led by Native Peoples, Native Cultures Fund supports Native arts, cultural revitalization and cultural transmission between generations. Grants and regional gatherings focus on methods of building greater cultural participation in communities and learning from elders who create the cultural context for our work. Since 2000, the Native Cultures Fund has made over one million dollars in grants to over 280 community projects in rural Native communities of northern and central California.
About Humboldt Area Foundation:
Vera Vietor established the Humboldt Area Foundation in 1972. Since then, more than $70 million in grants and scholarships have been awarded in Humboldt, Del Norte, Curry and Trinity Counties. Humboldt Area Foundation promotes and encourages generosity, leadership and inclusion to strengthen our communities.
For more information on services provided by the Foundation please visit the Humboldt Area Foundation website at hafoundation.org or call (707) 442-2993.
(Story by Kimberly Wear, North Coast Journal)
When Ernesto Cappuccio arrived in Arcata with his family just over four years ago, a lot about his life changed. There were all the usual things that such a move entails for a fifth grader, which in this case included starting over at a new school in a small town where everyone seemed to have known each other forever.
But that wasn't the hardest part. It turned out that a seemingly simple thing proved to be one of the toughest adjustments — he could no longer play basketball.
Born with spina bifida, Ernesto uses a wheelchair. Back when he lived in the Bay Area enclave of Livermore, the now 15-year-old was part of a competitive basketball team that had access to a court with an adjustable hoop. But here in Humboldt County, there were no similar programs.
And while there was a park with a court just down the street from his new house in Arcata's Greenview neighborhood, the lone basket stood at regulation height and Ernesto was blocked from using it by a swath of grass that was difficult, if not impossible, for his wheelchair to traverse.
"It was in the back and there was no way to get to it," Ernesto says. "No way. No how."
When his two younger sisters — Chloe and Zoe — played on the swings or climbed the jungle gym, Ernesto was often relegated to the sidelines, or — more accurately — the sidewalk.
And considering that he not only played competitive basketball and sled hockey, but also went caving and rock climbing through the nonprofit Bay Area Outreach and Recreation Program, Ernesto was not accustomed to sitting things out.
Now an Arcata High School freshman, he's on the track and field team in discus and shot put, while also playing trumpet in the orchestra.
"It was tough," Ernesto says of the move. "I liked to do all of those sports. They were fun."
So, when neighbor Daniel Bixler organized a meeting in the spring of 2015 to look at replacing Greenview Park's outdated equipment, Ernesto and his father Frank went to talk about more than just what play structures should be installed.
They went to talk about access for everyone. And they were not alone.
Bixler says he still becomes emotional when thinking about the families who came forward in those early planning stages to explain how playgrounds are often symbols of isolation to their children.
Instead of welcoming places to shoot a few hoops or zoom down slides with abandon, the combination of a lack of access and equipment they could use made the parks seem more like exclusive clubs that didn't include them on the guest list.
The father of two young daughters, Bixler says he couldn't believe he'd missed what should have been so obvious.
"It was more than a lightbulb that went off," he says, recalling he immediately turned to Dan Diemer, then the city's parks superintendent, and asked, "What would it take?"
What it was going to take was money, about twice as much as a traditional playground build, not just for the specialized play equipment but also to install wheelchair-friendly surfaces and things like accessible picnic tables.
Instead of around $150,000, the project would cost upward of $300,000.
With his eyes now opened wide, the owner of Humboldt Hot Sauce knew there was only one way forward and the stage was set for Arcata's first fully inclusive playground. Then the hard work began.
"There was no turning back," Bixler recalls.
Playgrounds haven't always been the neighborhood fixtures that most people now take for granted. The idea first appeared around the mid-1800s, in the wake of the Industrial Revolution, to offer children a safe place to play and respite from the bleak tenement life so many faced in inner cities.
With the baby boom following World War II and the rise of suburban neighborhoods, playgrounds became more common place and have continued to evolve over the years, embraced not only for providing needed green space amid urban sprawl but also as an outlet for unfettered play that helps children learn to interact and use their imaginations.
But there's also a more serious side — psst, don't tell the kids — especially for children with developmental delays.
All that playing builds physical coordination, which in turn helps kids who have trouble navigating the complicated dance of social interaction to develop those skills, according to Jayne McGuire, a professor of recreation administration at Humboldt State University.
Children who might have a tough time communicating can find themselves on more even ground with their peers when they can go head-to-head on the monkey bars just like everyone else, she says.
As an added benefit, those skills can develop faster on playgrounds than with rote exercises because the kids are simply having fun, McGuire notes.
"They're little microcosms of social engagement that develop a sense of self and a sense of independence," says McGuire, who consulted on Greenview Park's design. "It lets parents take that one step back and let their kids be kids."
Along that vein, inclusive playgrounds are gaining a foothold following the passage of the Americans With Disabilities Act and special education laws in the 1990s.
McGuire notes that inclusive playgrounds are not just for children who might have difficulties using traditional play structures. They ensure there is something for everyone to enjoy — and to enjoy together.
"The goal is that everyone plays side-by-side and we break down those barriers," she says.
While it's hard to quantify how many now exist, National Public Radio's "Playgrounds for Everyone" app — which crowdsources locations and information on the growing movement — lists nearly 3,000 inclusive playgrounds in the United States.
For Mara Kaplan, founder of Let Kids Play, a Pittsburgh-based national consulting firm on inclusive play areas, the importance of making sure all children and adults have access to playgrounds can't be overstated.
The mother of a special needs son, Kaplan knows first-hand the heartbreak of not being able to do what so many people take for granted — spending a day at the park with her children.
"It really isolates a family and takes them out of the community when you don't make the community inclusive and welcoming for everybody," she says.
While there are ADA requirements for newer parks, both Kaplan and McGuire say those are "low bars" that mainly address access.
"ADA might get my son to the playground, but it doesn't necessarily get him through the playground and it doesn't mean there is anything for him to do at the playground," Kaplan says.
But things have changed by leaps and bounds in the 24 years since her son was born, with many communities, like Arcata, embracing the idea that making inclusive playgrounds can be the rule, rather than the exception, to the benefit of everyone.
"You see children learn about one another in a way that no other place else than a playground can be," Kaplan says. "A playground is normalizing."
While Arcata might not have been on the forefront of fully inclusive playgrounds, the city is now moving toward leading the nation by making Greenview Park just the starting point.
"We hope it will be the first of what will be many," says Julie Neander, the city's director of Community Services. "That is our goal. ... It means it will cost us more money but it's so worth it. We want our parks to be for everyone."
This past Saturday marked a major milestone when, after more than two years of planning, fundraising and hard work, Greenview Park officially opened to a crowd of about 200 who gathered at the one-acre site tucked into a cul-de-sac off 11th Street.
If it takes a village to raise a child, it also took one to reinvent Greenview Park.
Between the spare change dropped into collection cans, $200,000 in state funds granted to Arcata because of its commitment to affordable housing and the donations of community members and local businesses, more than $300,000 was raised.
"Our world is better by our actions," Bixler told the crowd in a voice choked with emotion.
As children scrambled across the spongey green and black speckled matting that replaced the grass to explore their new space, grownups wandered about the vibrant yellow, orange and blue play structures, where once only meager swing sets and a lone steel jungle gym the color of a dreary Humboldt day stood.
There are still swings, but this set includes one with a specialized seat to strap in children who might not have the ability to hold on for themselves. Near the entrance, a sensory wall with patterns to trace and music makers to play stands at the ready, along with the obligatory climbing structure and side-by-side slides.
Toward the back and off to the side, sits a dome that can be scaled while also providing a quiet refuge inside for autistic children who can become overwhelmed by sensory overload.
There is also a sway glider with a ramp to accommodate wheelchairs that rocks back and forth.
None went unused. Still in the back but with a paved path leading the way, there is a basketball court with an adjustable hoop.
By far the most popular feature on Saturday was a zip line structure with a large chair resembling a child's car seat that zooms back and forth along a track on the park's outer edge, the idea of Zoe Cappuccio — Ernesto's 8-year-old sister.
Standing at the head of a long line waiting to take a turn, her sister Chloe could not be happier with result.
The pair — like the rest of the family — took part in the park's fundraising, with the girls setting up a lemonade stand that raised $60 for the cause.
"I think it's fun," Chloe says of the zip line. "It feels like you're flying."
What started out as a simple renovation project had transformed into something much more — a place with something for everyone, where children and adults, regardless of whether they are blind or deaf, autistic or use a wheelchair, can mingle and play — together.
Calling Greenview Park "a great example of collaboration," Bixler notes his tiny Arcata neighborhood now boasts the only fully inclusive playground in the 350-mile stretch between Oakland and Medford, Oregon.
After Ernesto cut the opening day ribbon, Bixler was there to give him a high five.
As the celebration in the park continued, Lucy Bixler stopped by the sign with glass blocks denoting the 66 donors who gave more than $250 toward the effort — proudly pointing out the block with her and her sister Bella's names.
Her father says that, years from now, his girls and other children will still be able to look up at those names and know there were people who cared enough about them and their community to make a difference.
"I think it's going to work out very well for everyone," Bixler says.
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