Local Equality Efforts

28 February 2023
Illustration of a flower made up of faces and word balloons

Northfield is getting real about uniting for the purpose of achieving equity for all. Representatives from a 20-partner consortium, including Carleton College, St. Olaf College, the City of Northfield, Northfield Public Schools, and several other nonprofit and public interest-related entities comprise the Northfield Racial & Ethnic Equity Collaborative. Bimonthly meetings began in February 2021.

The NREEC strives to improve access to city services for all demographics (including college students) while building a shared cultural competence, understanding individual biases, and ensuring that local staff and volunteers reflect the greater community.

After all, Northfield is a different place in 2023 than it was during the late 20th century, when many Carls were charmed by the city’s quaint slogan: “Cows, Colleges, and Contentment.”

According to Minnesota Compass, 14.9 percent of Northfield’s current 20,790 residents are people of color, and 6.1 percent of the population lives with disabilities. An NREEC survey posed a variety of questions aimed at gaining across-the-board perspectives; opening the eyes of those within the city’s broader power structure to the needs and perceptions of everyone in Northfield may lead to more inclusive policies, practices, and resources.

Carleton co-sponsored and hosted at Skinner Memorial Chapel an October poetry reading by Kevin Young, poetry editor of The New Yorker and director of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture. That’s the kind of perception-challenging event the NREEC encourages.

“The NREEC brings people together to talk about ways we can support our community in being a DEI-rich place,” said Jodi Lundell, senior director of Healthy Community Initiative and an NREEC task force member.

“Individually we’re strong—but together we’re stronger.”

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