Fellow: Tricia Lund

Fellowship site: Cultural Diversity Resources, Fargo, ND

2003 Fellowship Follow-up Report

Name of Fellow: Tricia Lund

Host Organization: Cultural Diversity Resources

Location of Host Organization: Fargo, ND

Brief History of Organization:

Cultural Diversity Resources (CDR) began as the Cultural Diversity Project in 1994. Along with a name change in 1998, CDR began as a 501 © 3 tax exempt non-profit organization. The agency has represented all ethnic minority groups while addressing the challenges and celebrating the opportunities of the added diversity of the community.

Initially, CDR was established to address the growing needs of Cass County, ND, including the cities of West Fargo, and Fargo, and of Clay County, MN, including the cities of Moorhead and Dilworth. CDR enables professionals as well as people of the community to address concerns as well as strengthen bonds, and to participate in the planning and implementing of goals surrounding local issues and policies regarding human rights.

Responsibilities of Fellow:

My preliminary responsibilities were to submerse myself into the working human rights community. I became an active participant in various groups including: Uniting For Equality (UFE), Amnesty International (AI), Fargo-Moorhead Homeless Coalition (FMHC), Clay Wilkin Homeless Assistance and Prevention Program (CWHAPP), Fargo Human Relations Commission (FHRC), Moorhead Human Rights Commission (MHRC), Justice Circle, and Training Our Campuses Against Racism (TOCAR). Along with becoming an active participant in these organizations, I also interviewed individuals one on one to obtain a greater understanding of the roles and goals of these groups.

Later on, I recognized the need to become more than another participant in a group. I took a leadership role in the production of a “Building A Human Rights Community: People With Disabilities Forum.” I had become responsible for facilitating a group that would produce the fore mentioned forum. The forum itself was to focus not only on stating the needs and injustices in the community, but to work towards the action that is needed to create equality.

Your Accomplishments:

A large amount of my time and efforts encompassed the production of the “People With Disabilities Forum.” A group of five individuals (including self) were brought together to plan and implement the forum within approximately ten weeks time. I became the facilitator and contact person in the planning process. We met approximately once a week, where I facilitated the meeting with an agenda I had produced. I also delegated tasks, and was available for guidance. The funds needed to implement the forum were very important early on. With the guidance of my supervisor, I was able to target five local institutions and groups that would find interest in the forum, and be able to provide a total of $1500.00 in assistance. I completed letters requesting monetary assistance, and with my supervisors approval sent them to the following: North Dakota State University, Minnesota State University-Moorhead, Concordia College, Fargo Human Relations Commission, and Moorhead Human Rights Commission. I was also required to make a short presentation to the Fargo Human Relations Commission, and the Moorhead Human Rights Commission. I was successful in receiving $1150.00 to be used to implement the forum, being turned down only by NDSU.
I was also responsible for the creation, printing, and dispersing of brochures and flyers for the forum, advertisement, securing the location, sign language interpreters, and finalizing the format and guest speakers for the forum. The days events would include: Human Rights Framework and People First Language, Tammie Yak, Cultural Diversity Resources; Americans with Disabilities Act, Bobbi Franks, Freedom Resource Center; Building A Human Rights Tree, Tricia Lund, Cultural Diversity Resources; personal testimony of human rights violations, 12 local guest speakers; listing the human rights violations in our community in a group discussion; and setting goals and action steps for our community in table discussions.

I performed a short presentation within the forum entitled, “Building A Human Rights Tree”, where participants wrote essential human rights on leaves and then pasted them onto a bare tree, while explaining why they chose that right. Then participant members were asked to name the groups, individuals, or laws that were the protectors of those rights, which was then written on the roots of the tree. This symbolized for the group how these protecting groups and laws are essential to our healthy lives, just as strong roots on a tree are essential for healthy leaves.

I also created short worksheets focusing on nine areas: housing, income and employment, transportation, education, community education and the media, recreation, public safety, child care, and medical care. These worksheets were used in table discussions to restate current problems that those people or family members with disabilities are experiencing, and to set goals, time frames, action steps, and to name key players and watchdogs. Additionally, I produced a short evaluation form that was completed by participants at the end of the forum. This evaluation questioned the satisfaction with the community in nine specific areas with regards to people with disabilities, and questioned who currently is and who should be the responsible parties in correcting human rights violations in our community.

Upon the completion of the forum I compiled a report of the findings, goals, and action steps created by the participants of the forum. Also included were the results of the community evaluation, along with a short synopses of the forum, and the human rights violations experienced by our guest speakers from the community. The full report is also attached, as well as the article written by the “Fargo Forum” covering the forum. The report compiled was then dispersed to local agencies and groups that were either working with consumers or working for human rights. The report will also be available at Cultural Diversity Resources through Tammie Yak, Human Rights Educator/Self Sufficiency Coordinator.

Your Challenges:

Besides the great challenges that came with community organizing and the production of a large event, I more specifically found difficulty in gaining the interest of key government players in our community. It seems that we are always “preaching to the choir”, and not often enough are the correct people present. I hope that once the cities receive copies of the report, that their eyes will open not only to humor me, but with genuine interest in the hardships and violations of their people.

Other projects/works started or completed:

I completed extensive research in grant writing and of potential grants for human rights education. I was interested in not only researching, but also writing a grant to benefit Cultural Diversity Resource’s Human Rights Education Program. I found that with the implementation of the “Building A Human Rights Community: People With Disabilities Forum” that I no longer had sufficient time to do so.
Additionally, I did observe my supervisor in her role as the Self Sufficiency Coordinator, however I did not work with any clients individually.

Personal Essay Section:

This fellowship has changed some of my ideas and expectations. I had a great interest in working on human rights on a macro level, but had always thought it to be too large a task for myself. I being a very green nobody could never make a substantial difference. However, I have learned that anyone has the ability to organize a community around human rights. It is a difficult, lengthy, and at times frustrating task, however persistence and dedication will go a long way.

My motivation for human rights work has strengthened. While working with as direct care for the homeless for three years, I had become so frustrated seeing the same issues, and inequalities resurface over and over again. I had begun to feel disgust in the continuation to pull people out of their drowning state, and rescue them only for the moment. My short success in community organizing and human rights education has fueled a fire to continue with human rights work. I can now not only help an individual with current life sustaining needs, but also empower them with information, and advocate for the communities needs.

The greatest influencers on me during my fellowship were three of the members of our small planning group. These included two separate parents of children with disabilities, and a young man with a congenital defect. These individuals were so strong willed that they were able to find time in their hectic lives to do an outstanding job in the planning and implementation of the forum. From these three people, I learned a lot about human rights violations that I had not been exposed to prior to this, and how “regular” people have taken control of the reigns to guide a better life for all. I find it so inspirational that community organizing around human rights did not intimidate these people.

My perspective on the world has changed somewhat from my internship. My community is very much like other small metro areas in the nation. I see that in most cases there are the leaders that make decisions, and the towns-people who feel powerless and insignificant. I have previously also felt intimidated by the leaders, and of insignificant standing. I have discovered that the leaders are not untouchable, but are willing to meet with citizens. The ability to break through to key players is not as hard as it seems. That division that I had seen between those in power and the regular citizens has diminished. That line is only there if you agree to it. However, once enlightened one’s feeling of insignificance disappears, and one becomes visible to key players. The trick is convincing citizens that in our community, the line is not really there, and they are able to make a difference.

A team member of mine in our planning of the forum was very vocal about his personal thoughts, and after a very long, and frustrating planning meeting, he stated: “Do you know what we’re doing, cuz I don’t.” I always stayed very positive with him, and encouraged his work. However, there was many a time when I felt like I was in way over my head and there was no way we could pull off any respectable community organizing. I remained confident, positive, and focused on our goals. I may have felt lost and helpless at times, but in the end we were able to successfully organize the community around human rights pertaining to people with disabilities.
I have begun a great life change with the completion of my fellowship and my higher education. I am leaving the community that I have made home for the last four years, and plan on making a new home somewhere. I feel some regret in that I have just barely dug myself a niche in the working human rights community, and I am now leaving it. I wish to continue human rights work as a constant in my life, and in whichever community I shall settle in. It will be difficult to again dig myself into the community, but I see now that it is not impossible as I had once seen it to be. I can do it more efficiently and more professionally than in my previous experience, and I will continue to grow as a human rights educator and activist.

Organizational Profile

Full Name of Organization: Cultural Diversity Resources
Abbreviation and initials commonly used: CDR
Organizational Address: 303 Roberts Street
Fargo, ND 58102
Telephone Number: (701)526-3000
Fax Number: (701)526-3001
Email Address: sspcdr@mcleodusa.net
Tammie Yak, supervisor
Website Information: none at this time
Names of Executive Director and Senior Staff: Yoke Sim-Gunaratne, Executive Director
Number of Employed Staff: (5) includes Executive Director
· Self Sufficiency Coordinator/Human Rights Educator: part-time each to equal one full-time position
· Community Interpretive Services Coordinator: full-time
· Administrative Assistant: full-time
· Multi-ethnic Leader: (new position) part-time
Number of Volunteers:
(15) Board Members
(1) Intern
Objectives of the Organization:
Mission: To build communities that value diversity.
Vision: To strengthen the bonds in the community and support everyone by eliminating fear, misinformation, and barriers that keeps individuals apart.
Goals: (a) To increase the understanding of the value of diversity in the community.
(b) To eliminate the barriers to community participation experienced by diverse populations.
Domestic/International Programs:
· Diversity training and community education
· Community Interpretive Services
· Multi-ethnic leadership training development
· Self-Sufficiency Program
· Cultural Diversity Awareness Week activities
· Quarterly newsletters and cultural profiles
· Human Rights Education program: a new reality with recent funding received. This includes: Human Rights Library, Human Rights Bookstore, Human Rights Education Workshops, Training of the Trainers, and Technical Assistance and Consultation.
Date of Information: February, 2003, with update of new Multi-ethnic Leader position in April, 2003
Information Supplied by: Tammie Yak, Human Rights Educator/Self Sufficiency Coordinator, Cultural Diversity Resources


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