Seattle City (spot)Light: Christopher Peguero

Christopher Peguero is in a unique position at City Light, one that was born from his motivation to provide a voice for under-represented groups in our community. As City Light’s environmental equity advisor, Christopher uses the City’s Race and Social Justice Initiative (RSJI) as a tool to implement a culture shift in the way that City Light does business. As the founder of the City of Seattle’s SEqual affinity group, Christopher also advocates workplace equality for all City employees, regardless of gender identity or sexual orientation.

Christopher has been with City Light for 10 years, and he holds a degree in sociology from the University of Wisconsin Stevens Point. He lives in Beacon Hill with his husband Anthony Potter and their children Alexander and Adela. In this week’s Seattle City (spot)Light, Christopher talks about how (and why) issues of equity became the focus of his job.


Environmental Equity Advisor Christopher Peguero (foreground) with his husband Anthony Potter and their children Adela and Alexander.

“Race and social justice, equity and engagement have always been central to my work in the environmental sector. I wanted to deepen my knowledge of how you do that work, especially in a large municipality. When I began my work at the City, I spent three years on the City of Seattle Race and Social Justice Initiative Core Team.”

“I’m a multi-racial person; I’m of Mexican and Native American and European descent. I am also gay. In my work with the RSJI team, I asked the question ‘How does LGBTQ equity fit in with the City’s RSJI policy?’ The answer was that the City leads with race,” said Christopher.

“Race is most central to addressing institutional oppression since it is central to historical inequity in the United States.  I feel that an inclusive model is the only way that we will ever reach collective liberation from institutional oppression. I wanted to bring LGBTQ concerns to the table too, so I started the City’s LGBTQ affinity group, SEqual. SEqual has been around for seven years now.”

“Later, I proposed a three-year pilot program at City Light looking at environmental justice issues, because I wanted to integrate the work that RSJI was doing into City Light’s environmental work. Simultaneously, the mayor came out with the Equity & Environment Agenda, so that dovetailed nicely. My proposal was accepted and now we are looking at how to make it a permanent program.”

“Traditionally, the environmental sector has been led by white, affluent folks, and often this work tended to benefit that same demographic, not necessarily by intention but because that’s how it evolved and who was at the table.”

“My focus is working with tribes, immigrant and refugee communities, people of color, low-income and limited English proficient communities. Environmental equity looks at developing pathways of opportunities towards employment in the environmental sector and towards influencing environmental policies that have traditionally not centered the needs of these demographics.”

“Now the environmental movement (at least in Seattle) is having a deeper conversation about what inclusion and engagement looks like. The question we’re asking is ‘as we are addressing environmental issues, is there a way to look at disparity as part of the puzzle? Is there a way that all people can share the benefits of environmental progress?”

“We are proudly committed to our work in the environment and conservation at City Light, but there is a need for environmental equity too. There is an opportunity for City Light to lead in the energy sector around this work.”

“We have a strong RSJI program along with the mayor’s Equity & Environment Agenda, and with these two policy commitments at City Light, I believe we have a structured foundation to move toward positive outcomes for communities that have not traditionally been invited to the table.”

“It’s rare for anyone to find a position that really calls to them and all of their passions, and I am incredibly grateful to have found a role doing exactly that at City Light.”

Superintendent hosts discussion with LGBT Commission

Seattle Parks and Recreation Superintendent Jesús Aguirre will host a series of community meetings throughout the summer and fall to share his vision for the future of the department and to learn more about the unique needs of each of the city’s diverse neighborhoods.

Superintendent Aguirre will give a brief presentation on the department’s goals moving forward and will lead a discussion with community members to learn more about what’s important to them with regards to recreation and public spaces.

A special meeting with the City’s LGBT Commission will take place from 5:30 – 7 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 5, at Miller Community Center, (330 19th Ave E, Seattle, WA 98112). Members of the public are encouraged to attend and join the discussion.

Performing arts program supports LGBTQ youth of color on June 10

Seattle Parks and Recreation in partnership with the Langston Hughes Performing Arts Institute invite the community to the “Bearing Witness” showcase featuring performances by LGBTQ youth of Color and their friends, on Wednesday, June 10 at 7 p.m., (doors open at 6:45 p.m.). Langston Hughes Performing Art Institute is located at 104 17th Ave. S at E Yesler Way in Seattle. Attendance is free, and the show is about 90 minutes.

The showcase will feature performances by local Queer Youth of Color and Allies sharing their stories and exploring their art, creating space and opening a door for discussion and awareness in the community. More than a dozen youth will be performing in a variety of performing arts disciplines. 

Youth involved with the Bearing Witness program participated in weekly sessions at Langston Hughes Performing Arts Institute, where they received free mentoring from a team comprised of adult LGBTQ professional performing artists of Color and Allies.

The mission of Langston Hughes Performing Arts Institute (LHPAI) is to celebrate, nurture, present and preserve African American and Diaspora performing arts and cultural legacies, and to preserve the African American aesthetic. By pursuing its mission, LHPAI is an agent of systemic change by providing opportunities for Performing Artists of Color to present their authentic images and voice, to engage the rich artistic aesthetics of the African American and Diaspora legacies and by providing audiences of all colors the opportunity to experience and celebrate these artists and legacies. Please visit www.langstoninstitute.org to learn more.

For more information, please contact Randy Wiger at 206-883-6110 or randy.wiger@seattle.gov. Program details can also be found at www.Seattle.gov/Parks/LGBTQ.

Belltown Community Center hosts Youth Pride Dance June 27

Seattle Pride celebrates the region’s LGBTQ rights movement and 2014 marks the festival’s 40th anniversary. So how does one celebrate such a landmark year? Hats – and the crazier the better.

The fourth annual Youth Pride Dance takes place Friday, June 27, 8 p.m., at Belltown Community Center (415 Bell Street). The dance provides the 21-and-under crowd the opportunity to participate in a celebration with their peers.

This year’s theme is crazy hats. Attendees can bring their own, borrow one at the event or join in a crazy hat-making party before the dance. Music will be played by DJ Puerto Roc and Regine Dynasty and Nubian Pride will serve as event emcees. There will be free portraits and dance photos taken on site and a makeup table by the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence.

Doors open at 7 p.m. and the dance will take place from 8-11 p.m. Everyone 21 years old and younger is invited and the event is free.

Belltown Community Center has a capacity of 150 guests, so pre-register at http://washingtonstate.glsen.org/page/s/youth-pride-dance-2014 or join the Facebook event here https://www.facebook.com/events/1386942978213647.

This year’s event is sponsored by the Washington chapter of the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, Nubian Pride, Seattle Parks and Recreation and Seattle Pride.

Email Christine Lyon at Christine@glsenwa.org with questions.

 

Seattle Parks presents the “Bearing Witness” showcase June 18 LGBTQ youth of color take center stage

Seattle Parks and Recreation, in partnership with Langston Hughes Performing Arts Institute, presents “Bearing Witness,” a queer youth of color performing arts showcase at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, June 18.

Local queer youth of color and their allies will share their stories and art as a means of opening the door of awareness and joy in the community.

Last spring Seattle Parks and Langston Hughes launched the Seattle Quare Arts Project. The word “quare” means excellence and identifies exceptional and remarkable experiences and individuals. The Seattle Quare Arts Project encourages LGBTQ youth of color to be the best persons they can be. It’s a mentored performing arts program that provides assistance in designing and implementing performing arts events such as dance, musical presentations and poetry slams. At the end of the program, the students perform in “Bearing Witness.”

The performance will be held at Langston Hughes, 104 17th Ave S, and is free. Doors open at 6:45 p.m.

For more information visit www.Facebook.com/SeattleParksCOD or contact Rodney Greene at 206-233-5168 or Rodney.Greene@seattle.gov.

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