Equity Across the City
Equity is embraced as a core community value in Middleton, in which "we celebrate diversity and strive for fair and just opportunities and outcomes for all people" (Comprehensive Plan 2021 PDF).
Our Comprehensive Plan defines equity as "just and fair inclusion into a society in which all can participate, prosper, and reach their full potential. Unlike equality, which connotes sameness, equity is responsive to difference. Equitable policies actively mitigate the disproportionate harm faced by certain communities."
In order to truly work towards equity, we must acknowledge the oppressive and discriminatory systems of our city's past and present. Additionally, we must ensure that all policies and decisions incorporate or center equity.
More Equity Goals from the Comprehensive Plan
1. Use racial equity and social justice assessment tools and a Health in All Policies framework to assess policy decisions and to make sure no one group of people or neighborhood carries the burden more greatly than others because of a particular city policy decision or lack of one. (p. 99, Green City, 1L.)
2. Establish a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) team. (p. 128, Governance & Partnerships, 1D.)
3. Ensure that all land use decisions incorporate resiliency, equity, and adaptation. (p. 20, Land Use, Strategy 4)
Accountability and Acknowledgements
Middleton occupies stolen land of the Ho-Chunk Nation. The Ho-Chunk Nation was forcibly evicted from this land in 1832 (through the Treaty of 1832), land that was soon colonized by white settlers. It is essential to understand the history of this land, the violence of colonialism that persists today, and the current presence of the Ho-Chunk Nation on this territory. It is critical to support, center, and amplify the voices of the Ho-Chunk Nation in our city's policies and decisions, as well as in the daily lives of our community. You can learn more about the Ho-Chunk Nation's government, tribal members, news, etc. on their website.
Recognizing Racism as a Public Health Crisis
On July 21st, 2020, the Middleton Mayor and Common Council passed a resolution (PDF) to declare "racism a public health crisis affecting our entire society." The resolution concludes with several goals, including directing "the City Administrator to develop a strategic plan that includes goals and objectives to ensure racial equity is a core element of the City’s operations."
Racist Housing Covenants of Middleton's Past
On July 21st, 2020, the Middleton Mayor and Common Council passed a resolution (PDF) to repudiate racist covenants in local real property records. The housing covenants in the Park Lawn Neighborhood discriminated against all community members who were not white, directly causing both past and present harm. As stated in the resolution, "The Mayor and Common Council of the City of Middleton, Wisconsin, repudiate racist covenants that are remaining signs of embedded and systemic racism in our society, and we further state our dedication to exposing and rooting out systemic racism wherever we find it."
Equity and Sustainability
It is essential to note that social justice and sustainability are intersectional practices and that one cannot be achieved without the other. Especially as marginalized communities face a disproportionate impact of environmental harm, we must be intentional in ensuring environmental justice within our community and beyond.
City staff are currently working on several projects with a sustainability and equity co-focus. These include energy efficient affordable housing, solar projects, and changes to land use/zoning. More details are to come as these projects seek approval and reach implementation.
Additionally, Middleton is currently working on achieving LEED for Cities and Communities Certification. One major aspect of this project is assessing metrics of equity across our city, in areas such as housing, education, and unemployment. The data attained for this project will serve as a starting point to understand areas of improvement in equity and work towards those goals.