The Missoula City Council has formed the LEARN Missoula Committee to better understand the community on issues such as social justice and public safety.
The new group held a meeting on Wednesday and MTN News listened in to learn about what they hope to accomplish.
LEARN Missoula -- which stands for Listen, Engage, Action, Reflection, and Network -- is working with the Missoula City Council to get approval of a 12-week action plan which will include research, training, and interviewing to get a better understanding of what the Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) community is experiencing and what changes they would like to see moving forward.
“It's going to be this rich multi-layered, multi-dimensional process of having a collective voice weaved in with the uniqueness and the nuances that people are experiencing," explained LEARN Missoula committee member Dr. Laurelle Warner.
Committee members believe that with social justice and public safety at the forefront both nationally and locally now is the time to take action on a grassroots level.
“We can't continue to accelerate, but what we can do is, while we have all of this acceleration and all of this energy, we can do our due diligence in building a structural platform for systematic institutional change," Jamar Galbreath said.
Dr. Warner noted that many Missoula residents see themselves as progressive and want to facilitate positive change.
“I'd like to change the narrative, it isn't about you doing something for us, it's about you moving over so that we can come alongside you so that we can all be doing things from a position of power and a position of knowing.”
“We want to be able to go back and say, 'now that we've done A,B,C, and D has your experience changed? Do you have a different perspective of what it means to be BIPOC and living in Missoula'?" Dr. Warner continued.
LEARN Missoula Committee Member, Spider Mcknight believes the city council is doing the right thing by letting those most impacted lead the way.
“Rather than working within their non-BIPOC group to come up with solutions, they've stepped aside and said we want to hear from the community, we want to be guided on how to do this and I think that's really commendable.”
LEARN Missoula hopes to get city council approval for the research project soon, so they can get started in the systematic institutional change they hope to achieve.