Q and A with Diverse Holliston
What is the background of Diverse Holliston?
Diverse Holliston was founded by Francesca Douyon, Michelle Diamond, and Jeff Perrott in 2017 as a Facebook page to organize people in Holliston interested in creating a diverse, inclusive, equitable town. From the very beginning, we created both social and educational events that offered diverse Holliston residents and those who work in town a platform to discuss issues and concerns of importance to us, and advocate for changes needed to create a truly diverse, inclusive, and equitable town.
How big is your organization?
Diverse Holliston has grown steadily over the past four years. Our Facebook page is followed by nearly 850 people, and our events typically have drawn 25-50 people, but sometimes—as in the case of our Juneteenth March for Black Lives in 2020—many more. Our reach is not limited to our Facebook group; we now have an email listserv that goes out to many of our members, and we have organized committees that advise town bodies such as the Select Board, School Administration, and School Committee on issues of importance to our members. In addition, we have begun the process of creating alliances with similar organizations in neighboring communities, to share information, resources, and strategies with each other.
What goals does it have?
Our goal is to maximize diversity, inclusion, and equity in Holliston—not only by helping to build community and individual awareness of the issues of importance to members of Holliston’s many diverse communities, but also, and more importantly, by challenging and dismantling systemic inequity within Holliston’s institutions in order to improve outcomes for all of us.
We do that first by highlighting and celebrating the experiences, culture, and concerns of community members of diverse cultural, religious, ethnic, national, sexual, gender, and immigration identifications and backgrounds, and by creating spaces where community members can engage each other directly in a supportive, safe, understanding environment. Second, we make those experiences and concerns visible in our town, center them in town conversations and decision-making venues. Third, we illuminate the conscious and unconscious forms of bias, bigotry, and exclusion that persist in Holliston in individual and institutional attitudes and practices—including collective biases built on the legacy of the racialized construction of the Boston suburbs. Our great hope is to create broad awareness, knowledge, and understanding across difference in Holliston, and to help build institutions that are welcoming to and accessible to all, so Holliston can become not only a culturally rich and diverse place to live and work, but also a model of inclusivity for other suburban towns.
Tell me about a few events that have happened.
Diverse Holliston has created many events and opportunities, including:
• Hosting “meet the candidate” forums and interviews to build knowledge around issues of diversity and inclusion for local elections
• Juneteenth March for Black Lives
• Interactive “True Story Theater” Active Bystander Workshop focusing on exploring identity • Community Conversations around issues of diversity that have come up in Holliston
• Social events - community playdates and potlucks
• Diversity Workshop with Tonia Walker of Perception + Change Consulting (Diverse Holliston, Mindshare & PTO participated along with school administrators)
Why does the town need a diverse Holliston Organization?
Every community needs a Diverse Holliston! Whoever we are and wherever we live, we know in our hearts that all human beings deserve the opportunity to live fully, authentically, and free of discrimination. In order to make this dream a reality in our community, we need engaged, active citizens that take the time to critically examine our systems and institutions with the goal of rooting out inequality.
How can people get involved?
All are welcome at Diverse Holliston! We are a group of community members who are committed to celebrating and promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion- no experience, resume, or qualifications are required other than this commitment to being engaged. Community members interested in getting involved can contact us through our facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/132437570694894
Interested folks can also email [email protected] to be added to our listserv.
Do you want to talk about any upcoming events?
Stay tuned! We are hoping to host more community conversations and events this fall.
Do you partner with any other organizations in town?
Diverse Holliston is partnering with HPS, SEPAC, School Committee, and members of the select board to realize our goal of an equitable, inclusive community.
Is there anything I didn’t ask that you would like to get in?
Thank you so much for this opportunity to share our work.