City staff will ask City Council to authorize a Religious and Cultural Calendar and establish a policy to avoid scheduling City meetings on cultural and religious holidays with significant work restrictions at the Sept. 6 City Council meeting. If approved, the City would take this calendar into consideration when planning meeting dates and times, in addition to promoting diversity and inclusion.
As part of the City’s commitment to increase diversity and inclusion in our City, the newly created Equity Board was tasked with creating a list of cultural and religious holidays the City should take into consideration when scheduling public meetings. The Equity Board took this charge and proposed a comprehensive list that the community and staff can use to increase cultural awareness and promote diversity and inclusion, in addition to considering for the scheduling of meetings.
City Council was provided an overview of the project earlier this year and were in favor of considering implementation of the calendar and further exploration of policy options.
Religious & Cultural Calendar
The calendar has three components:
- A list of holidays that City staff should make every effort to avoid when scheduling public meetings (15 holidays). These holidays include certain religious dates that have work restrictions, may require fasting or may have an utmost significance in one’s religion or culture. These are the holidays of focus in the proposed policy.
A list of additional holidays that provide opportunities to increase awareness and promote the diversity of our communities and are meant to invite respect, understanding, and individual and community reflection (80 holidays). Staff may use their own discretion based on the type of meeting, community impact, and desired outcome, and are invited to take a moment to acknowledge the respective holiday.
A list of the observed federal holidays (11 holidays).
The Religious and Cultural Calendar was created in collaboration with the Equity Board, and is the result of information obtained through research and collaboration with community groups, and individual residents. Curated information from other government jurisdictions and educational institutions, including but not limited to the Washington State Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction, Issaquah School District, Seattle School District, the City of Berkley, University of Missouri, etc. were included. In addition to researching available information, cultural and religious groups, as well as individual community members, were contacted and consulted during this process.
Following adoption, Administration plans to:
- Promote the Calendar on the website and invite the community to provide input,
- Provide training to City staff and implement internally,
- Work with the City Clerk's Office to adjust City meetings on the holidays with significant work restrictions.
The Administration will monitor implementation of the Calendar and proposes returning to the Services, Safety and Parks Committee in the fall of 2023 with a report on lessons learned, highlights, and challenges as well as consideration of adoption of a calendar in 2024 and beyond.
Click here to view the presentation.