Where and when this journey began depends on whom you ask. But this March, we made it official. Three Central Oregonians — Kerani Mitchell, LeeAnn O’Neill, and Erin Rook — came together to develop and support a collaborative of Central Oregon consultants committed to engaging individuals, organizations, and communities to advance equity and social justice through customized assessment, education, and long-range planning and support.
While we have each individually dedicated our lives to social justice and we frequently cross paths in social justice spaces, we first came together to provide anti-oppression and allyship workshops for the City of Bend’s Welcoming Week. We drew from our diverse lived experiences and varied professional backgrounds to approach allyship from a multifaceted perspective.
As three people from historically marginalized communities who grew up in small agricultural communities, we have a shared passion for equity work to be place-based and rooted in lived experience. Our respective backgrounds — Erin’s in journalism and equity work at the university level, LeeAnn’s in corporate law and access to justice, and Kerani’s in nonprofit management and facilitating community conversations across Oregon — complement each other to provide a diversity of viewpoints and services. To learn more about us, please check out our bios here.
Inspired by the title of that inaugural workshop, we decided to call ourselves Allyship in Action. Since we started speaking this vision into action, some folks have asked: “What is allyship?” While there are many ways to define what is, briefly, the state of being an ally, we’re partial to this definition from the Oregon Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence:
Allyship is an active, consistent, and arduous practice of unlearning and re-evaluating, in which a person holding systemic power seeks to end oppressions in solidarity with a group of people who are systematically disempowered.
[We’ll dive more deeply into allyship in a future blog post. In the meantime, tell us what it means to you.]
Over the past nine months, the seeds planted at that workshop started putting up shoots, and we saw the potential of this model — transformative equity education informed by local, lived experience and rooted in a theory of practice that is intersectional and liberatory.
We respect and honor the lived experience and expertise of all historically marginalized people, and so when possible, our team intentionally contracts with people of diverse identities and lived experiences to bring authentic perspectives to issues of equity and social justice. Our collaborators bring an intimate understanding of local needs and resources as well as the unique dynamics of rural, but growing, Central Oregon communities.
We believe that social justice requires people to self-reflect on their own identity and understand how that shapes the relationships they have with traditionally marginalized communities. Allyship in Action seeks to work with those who are ready to lean into the discomfort and engage in transformative work as a lifelong process.
Although the vision for Allyship in Action has been in the works for some time, we are still putting together the building blocks of our company. We have been receiving requests for services since Allyship in Action was just an idea and we apologize that we have not been able to engage everyone with our full attention. Thank you for your interest and support! We appreciate your patience as we establish ourselves.
If you are interested in getting to know us better, please save the date for our official kickoff event on Saturday, October 5. We look forward to meeting you and working with you to transform our community!
Thank you for joining us on this journey!
Note: While we partner with many local consultants, all inquiries about our services and availability to should be directed Kerani, Erin, and LeeAnn at email@example.com or 541-241-6457.