The Agenda with the Missoula County Commissioners

Collaboration and Representation: Creating a More Equitable Local Government

June 15, 2023 Missoula County Commissioners Season 3 Episode 10
Collaboration and Representation: Creating a More Equitable Local Government
The Agenda with the Missoula County Commissioners
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The Agenda with the Missoula County Commissioners
Collaboration and Representation: Creating a More Equitable Local Government
Jun 15, 2023 Season 3 Episode 10
Missoula County Commissioners

One of Missoula County's major initiatives is to address systemic issues of inequity in our community. But what does that really mean, and what does it look like? 

This week, the commissioners sat down with Elisha Buchholz (equity coordinator at Missoula County), Rozlyn Haley (justice, equity, diversity and inclusion fellow at Missoula County) and Rajiem Seabrook (director of equity and impact at Empower Montana) for an update on justice, equity, diversity and inclusion (JEDI) efforts.

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Thank you to Missoula's Community Media Resource for podcast recording support!

Show Notes Transcript

One of Missoula County's major initiatives is to address systemic issues of inequity in our community. But what does that really mean, and what does it look like? 

This week, the commissioners sat down with Elisha Buchholz (equity coordinator at Missoula County), Rozlyn Haley (justice, equity, diversity and inclusion fellow at Missoula County) and Rajiem Seabrook (director of equity and impact at Empower Montana) for an update on justice, equity, diversity and inclusion (JEDI) efforts.

Related links

Thank you to Missoula's Community Media Resource for podcast recording support!

Juanita Vero: [00:00:10] Well, welcome back to Tip of the Spear with your Missoula County commissioners. I'm Juanita Vero and I'm joined by my fellow commissioners, Dave Strohmaier and Josh Slotnick.


Elisha Buchholz: [00:00:19] Hey, I'm Elisha Buchholz. I'm the equity coordinator for Missoula County, and I'm excited to be here today. I'll go ahead and hand it over to Rajiem.


Rajiem Seabrook: [00:00:26] Good day, Rajiem Seabrook, Director of equity and impact with Empower Montana and one of several members who serve on the JEDI Advisory Board Task Force and many other roles within the city and county. Hi, my.


Rozlyn Haley: [00:00:38] My name is Rozlyn, and I've been with Missoula County starting in September 2021 as a JEDI Fellow, and during this time most of my focus has been supporting and moving efforts forward to create and fully implement the JEDI Advisory Board.


Dave Strohmaier: [00:00:50] Okay. Well, I guess just an open-ended question for any of you. Talk to us a little bit about what this term JEDI actually means and what it means here in Missoula County.


Rajiem Seabrook: [00:01:01] It means someone fighting for the greater...force of the universe and the galaxy.


Dave Strohmaier: [00:01:04] Well, that's what I thought. That's what I thought. Yeah.


Rajiem Seabrook: [00:01:06] It's an acronym for Justice Equity, Diversity and Inclusion. And it has been applied to our city and county to be part of some things going forward so that all are included regardless of ability, race, sex, gender, class and anything else that falls under the margin, so to say.


Elisha Buchholz: [00:01:22] Yeah, per usual, I can't say that any better than Rajiem does.


Dave Strohmaier: [00:01:25] That was succinct and good.


Josh Slotnick: [00:01:27] Great. So this is for anybody. Why is JEDI important? Why are we doing this?


Elisha Buchholz: [00:01:31] JEDI is important because like Rajiem said earlier, is we're taking into context everybody who is impacted by our systems and our policies that we put into place. And historically, there have been groups that have been marginalized and not been able to be part of that discussion. And we need to make sure that we're including those within everything that we're working to change.


Rozlyn Haley: [00:01:48] A social equity in general is one of the pillars of public administration, and it's also one of those areas that is harder to focus on and harder to work on. And JEDI really aligns with that mission. In terms of public service.


Josh Slotnick: [00:01:59] You said social equity. What do you mean by that?


Rozlyn Haley: [00:02:02] Social equity came out of... So I think I'm going to get it right. There's economy, efficiency and effectiveness. I believe, are the other three pillars. So when you think of those three pillars and we think about what we do in public administration and how those apply to our work, we can kind of think about that. What does economy look like? How are we being economic? Social equity came out of the question of who are we being economic for? Who are we being efficient for? Who are we being effective for? And that's where social equity comes in to ensure that we're thinking about everybody when we're thinking about public administration and our services.


Juanita Vero: [00:02:36] Where we're using the word equity and maybe people get hung up on that word. So maybe just so we're all kind of saying the same thing, what does equity mean in this context? What's an example or...?


Elisha Buchholz: [00:02:49] Yeah, I think a lot of times when people hear equity, they think about equality and equality and equity really aren't the same thing. When we're talking about equality, we're talking about everybody gets the same thing, they have the same resources provided to them, or everybody gets the box at like the, you know, the same size box to see over the fence. There's an image that's pretty famous for that. But when we're talking about equity, we're making sure that everybody who is impacted has a place at the table to talk about what is it that they need to be able to achieve their goals. So again, going back to that picture of people at a fence, looking over at watching a baseball game, you know, maybe some people don't want to watch the baseball game. They'd rather actually turn around and chat with their neighbors. So really bringing everybody to the table so that we can have a shared idea of what equity means for everybody.


Juanita Vero: [00:03:34] And then so what's maybe your vision of what an equitable local government would actually look like?


Elisha Buchholz: [00:03:41] Yeah, I'll dive into that. But I really would also love to have Rajiem and...


Juanita Vero: [00:03:46] Of course, I got excited. 


[00:03:46] Roz put in that note, but I'm excited too, because I put a lot of thought into this and really it kind of falls into three areas. And the first one is that we acknowledge that systems are built in a way that limits access to resources and services for certain groups. And then also understanding what the...


Juanita Vero: [00:04:01] I'm sorry, can we just slow that down for... Sorry. I just wanted to like imagine when I hear the words systems and services, what does that really mean or look like or...


Elisha Buchholz: [00:04:11] You know, so when we're talking about systems and services, we're talking about the things that the county offers in terms of services specifically. So the county works on roads and they work on titling vehicles and they also work on the issues of housing and health care access and those kinds of things. And so when we're talking about systems and services, that's what I'm talking about. Okay.


Juanita Vero: [00:04:31] Adding to that, then then what's a vision of what an equitable local government... 


Elisha Buchholz: [00:04:37] Right.


Juanita Vero: [00:04:37] Looks like?


Elisha Buchholz: [00:04:38] So kind of like I said, it started going to those three parts. So we're we're understanding that those that the systems have been built in a way that limits access to certain groups of people.


Juanita Vero: [00:04:47] Groups being...?


Elisha Buchholz: [00:04:48] Groups that could be people that are in rural communities, it can be groups that are people that are minorities or marginalized groups, people of color, women, low socioeconomic status. The list goes on and on and kind of goes back to what Rajiem had mentioned earlier, too. It's really about anybody who historically has not been able to be involved with the local government.


Rajiem Seabrook: [00:05:07] Not for me, but for those in which we work with. To collectively in Missoula. I don't want to make this a Rajiem thing at all. An equitable government, whether it's the city or the county or on the federal or state level. What we are hoping for is that you recognize that each person has their own set of circumstances that either allow them to gain access or are denied access, depending on who each individual person is. But being able to honor that and acknowledge that to come to a more equal outcome by including the equity, you automatically improve or increase the equality of outcomes that are being performed by government being performed by businesses or institutions. So being able to collectively understand that each person's narrative, like everyone in this room, your story adds to a different way, a different action, a different thought, a different voting process, whatever that individual is. But recognizing that, hearing it and taking that into strong consideration before having a policy or a procedure or a rule or a law enacted just because it impacts and affects everyone very differently. But being able to understand, recognize and honor the impact and the intent of such things going forward.


Dave Strohmaier: [00:06:13] So, Rajiem, I guess in particular, you mentioned earlier that you're part of the JEDI Advisory Board.


Rajiem Seabrook: [00:06:19] I'm part of the task force...


Dave Strohmaier: [00:06:20] ...that's helping.


Rajiem Seabrook: [00:06:21] Form the Advisory Board.


Dave Strohmaier: [00:06:22] Exactly, yes. And so presumably this board, that task force is working on establishing is going to be a venue in which some of these disparate voices in the community are going to come to the fore for policymakers in local government. So maybe talk a little bit about your role on the task force and where we're at in the process of establishing the board.


Rajiem Seabrook: [00:06:47] Well, we're in phase 1.5. If you if you could give it a parameter or a metric, what we're looking to accomplish is to start mirroring on this task force or advisory board who actually lives in Missoula. When I walk into city council chambers or I walk into public engagements, not everyone that lives in Missoula is represented in these rooms. They're not represented in places of power or positions of power either. So being able to have people have voices that have been either historically muted or are currently just being stifled for whatever reason or flavor of the day. With that being said, it's imperative that people are heard because they are impacted. So you don't have savage inequalities that are created, so you don't have sometimes conflict between citizens, let alone between government and citizens being able to be heard so that politicians or the powers that be can understand what the people actually need versus creating constructs and hoping people just kind of hop on and say, Hey, let's just deal with this and lived on the day to day. That's a really passive form of marginalization when you do that. And it just can it consistently just moves a construct on and on to keep people muted and sometimes thwarted in their attempts to move forward.


Josh Slotnick: [00:07:54] So we've got a task force who's working on putting together a board, and this board will work for the city and the county. This is going to be the JEDI Advisory Board. What's the mission going to be of this JEDI advisory board and what are your hopes for what this board could accomplish? 


Rajiem Seabrook: [00:08:11] I think the biggest hope is to be heard. First and foremost, it's just to be heard. That doesn't mean it's going to move the needle. But historically, marginalized people aren't heard on the political level until it's time to procure votes or face time on television. There are shifting sands and demographics not only in Missoula City, but Missoula County, where we have varying walks of people that historically aren't heard, not only just people of color, but women, our aging population, our elders, our veterans, our growing homeless population as well. So being able to be heard, I think is my biggest hope. But many, many people's hope as well outside of myself to be heard and to be listened to and not just check boxes because it's the cool thing to do or it's the visceral reaction for some. I think what's also wanting to be accomplished is to before the envelope is passed across the table, let everyone in the room read what's in the envelope as well to be able to know what's going on. The reverse aspect of this, too, is to get the people more engaged in what's going on as well. People want to be heard, but sometimes they don't know how to engage, to be heard. When you have those on an advisory board that have so many overlaps and intersecting lines of different backgrounds, you now are hearing different narratives, you're hearing different stories, you're being given privilege to pockets of society that you may not go into on the day to day. And I think that that's really important to kind of venture out into those communities, but also have those communities come back and venture into, you know, the political or the county or whatever. The thing is that people need to be engaged in to be heard, seen and honored.


Josh Slotnick: [00:09:40] You're kind of answering this next question to some degree, but I want to see if we can put a fine point on it. If we were to leap forward maybe 4 or 5 years from now, the JEDI board is in place, how would you know that? Man, They're doing a good job. Things are working well. What would you want to see? So we would know we're on the right track here.


Rajiem Seabrook: [00:09:58] Seeing those faces that historically not been gained access or allowed in those rooms, those people who have not been given an inkling or an iota of power or voice, seeing those people in those rooms. Seeing our powers that be reach out into the communities outside. You and I have had conversations many a time, like when do people just show up for the sake of showing up? And it's not about face time or votes or money or something that's further away from the people seeing our community get reinvolved with itself on a grassroots level when it's not about polarizing things to keep people separate but polarizing to agitate for the change. I don't know. I'm I feel like I'm freestyling at this. I'll go for it, man. It's good having a better or increased spectrum of representation in our city and in our county. If I opened a book right now, there's no one that looks like me or my children working for the city on the government that make power moves, right? There's no one that looks like my grandfather or one of the refugees that now just moved to this country six days ago. So if you don't see yourself in the room, you're not going to walk into those rooms. It'd be nice to see those rooms be more open and focused on everyone, not just former generations or people who can afford $4,500 in rent now. Right. But having everyone be there, almost, almost a rainbow coalition, if you will.


Josh Slotnick: [00:11:16] So representation is really important.


Rajiem Seabrook: [00:11:18] Absolutely. Representation increases action when you're represented. You can't ignore what's being put out in front of you and the ignoring of those needs, wants and desires needs to stop.


Josh Slotnick: [00:11:29] And if we have the right representation, you all feel like we're going to have the right action come from that group.


Elisha Buchholz: [00:11:34] I do. I think if we're not listening or if we're not even asking for the voices of those who haven't historically been there, then we're need to have.


Josh Slotnick: [00:11:43] Those folks involved if we're going to get to something...


Elisha Buchholz: [00:11:44]  Yeah, we absolutely need to have those folks involved when we if we're going to get to that point. And I think it's also us intentionally reaching out to those folks until we do have that representation in those power places.


Dave Strohmaier: [00:11:55] I think what you've just been saying now partially answers this question I'm going to ask, but not infrequently whether we're appearing on talk radio or other locations in our community. We'll hear the question, What's the problem? Does discrimination actually exist? We're an inclusive community. Are you just making a big deal about nothing? Can you point to some other examples? And I think the one as far as representation goes to the heart of who we are as a community, as a society, a local government. But are there other instances, tangible examples you can provide that will help folks who otherwise might think, you know what, we're Missoula Montana, We kind of have our act together. What's the issue?


Rozlyn Haley: [00:12:36] I'm just going to start from one place. I mean, we can come up with other examples on our own. But I just want to point back to the original resolution and some of the problems that were pointed out with the original resolution, the JEDI resolution that was signed in 2021. Some of the disparities that were pointed out was indigenous residents were disproportionately affected by health disparities. Black, Indigenous and other people of color make up almost 8% of the Missoula population, but disproportionately make at or below 80% of the area Median income. Bipoc represent, and that's black, indigenous and other people of color Bipoc represent 30% of those incarcerated in our Missoula County detention facility. And so we could start there and talk about disparity and then we can get deeper into our schools and what poverty does and socioeconomic levels and access based on location where you live.


Dave Strohmaier: [00:13:28] I think that's good. And what you just mentioned is something that sometimes gets lost in the conversations is socioeconomic disparities and inequities. And and clearly, we don't have to go far from where I am sitting right here in the heart of Missoula to witness some of those.


Josh Slotnick: [00:13:47] Thanks, Roz. So what Dave pointed out is something we hear often when we go to talk radio or interact with lots of people. They say things like, What do you mean This isn't an angry, bigoted place? What are you talking about? And I wonder if you all could be speak to the difference between kind of individual bigotry and structures that kind of stack the deck. So some folks succeed and some don't. Not and not at the same level because we don't see a lot of bigotry like we have seen in American history. And yet the statistics around economic success are exactly as you've described. So what's going on there?


Rozlyn Haley: [00:14:25] I think you can go back to representation and what we were talking about before and what's also mentioned in the resolutions is having representation in those spaces where decisions are being made. Historically, everyone has not been included in those spaces. And as an effect of that, it wasn't intentional necessarily, but certain circumstances may not have been considered when decisions were made that make disparities in equity unequal across the population.


Juanita Vero: [00:14:54] This is so exciting. Roz, can you or all three of you, is there an example or maybe a story that kind of clearly distills what you're describing right there?


Rajiem Seabrook: [00:15:04] Yeah, I'll give one about access and abilities. A couple of years ago there was a. Way out in East Missoula Bonner. I always forget kind of where the boundaries are there. Out there, east of Missoula proper, there were some development going on and some of the development. Did not include those who needed physical access. So you had really high sidewalks with no access for.


Juanita Vero: [00:15:26] No ramps.


Rajiem Seabrook: [00:15:26] No ramps.


Juanita Vero: [00:15:27] Yeah.


Rajiem Seabrook: [00:15:27] Right. So right there, you know, sans gender, sans race, sans sex, just access an ability. If a person sitting in a wheelchair or a person who is visually impaired can't get off the sidewalk because they can't gauge distance when that was constructed and that was permitted, those people weren't included in the production of those things. When you think about some of the sidewalks and how high they are out there, some ramps that help people who sit in wheelchairs, those they can't open out to get onto the sidewalk. So now they're driving around. They're 15 minutes late for their appointment, but now they want to go back to their appointment. They're half an hour late and now they have to wait six months down the line to be seen by a doctor just because they couldn't get out of their car or, you know, be able to cross the street or whatever the access is needed.


Rajiem Seabrook: [00:16:10] So that's one of those accessibility things that I see when I look at the growing need of people and I think about food and food access. Missoula starving. Missoula starving. The majority of us are two paychecks and half a heartbeat away from living in a tent on the front lawn of City Hall. When I think about the accessibility for food and the lack of funds due to jobs or the inability to get to jobs, if you live in Frenchtown or Seeley, the lack of access to make money to procure the things that you need from the day to day caused strife cause conflict. And some of those people aren't seen in those rooms. Some of those people aren't included in the decision making. When I have 18 year old young men, young fathers that I work with that want to come into Missoula, but they don't have a car. There's no access, there's no bus out there. But yet that's still part of Missoula County, you know, in between Frenchtown and Missoula. So just on an accessible level, when we're talking about plans and development, we're not including everyone.


Rozlyn Haley: [00:17:05] I'm just building on accessibility and what Rajiem was talking about. When we think about even accessible buildings, we think about how much is it costing us now to make those buildings accessible. What do you think about JEDI? And I think about what we're working on when we bring these different voices into the same room. We're thinking ahead. We're thinking forward to make sure that in a way, these buildings are accessible for the future and we're not going back and paying for the mistakes that we've made.


Elisha Buchholz: [00:17:29] I'd like to just really add and hone in on the point that the compounding factor of what the lack of access or the inequities are in place. So just like Rajiem was talking about, when we have one hurdle that somebody has to jump over that creates ten more and each one of those create at least ten more, right? So it's always something that people are having to fight on multiple levels when they're trying to access the things that they need.


Dave Strohmaier: [00:17:54] Yeah, those are great examples. And I think at least partially to the heart of what Josh mentioned as far as the sensibility that many folks have, that I'm not bigoted, I'm not trying to harm my fellow Missoula residents and friends and neighbors. But just like with the infrastructure piece, I suspect that those engineers from Missoula County or the city of Missoula back in the day weren't sitting around thinking what sort of obstacles can we put in the path of folks who are mobility challenged? But they just didn't think about it. And that's the deeper systemic kind of systems-wide problem is when we're not thinking about it and there's this ripple effect of consequences. And so you can be a good-hearted, caring person. Absolutely, but still not understand the ways in which either our own upbringing has shaped our lives and the families in which we live, or how decisions impact the community in ways that might not have been ill-intended but nonetheless have ill results.


Rajiem Seabrook: [00:18:58] It's the intent versus impact. You know, I don't think anyone ever intends to be malicious, but sometimes the way you came across was, you know, negatively impact, not Dave's intent, but the impact was felt. And I think that that has historically marred a lot of relationships, whether it be Missoula, Montana or Manhattan, New York City, and not acknowledging that because going back to what Mr. Slotnick said, he goes, We're not a bigoted city. You don't know what to look for because you're not impacted by that. Right? I hear my, you know, my Caucasian friends be like, this is such a liberal town. It's like, but you're not impacted by racism. So how would you know what to look for, to know what to feel? You know, that's like me telling a woman. I don't think Missoula is sexist. I'm not female. I don't know what a sexist thought feels like being a male. So who am I to determine what is or what isn't? I don't know what I don't know. And that's okay. That's more than okay. But once you do know, what do you do with it going forward? Once you do acknowledge it and you have an idea, what do you do with it going forward? Because then your intent better match your impact and vice versa. And I just think that acknowledging and knowing that those going back to what I said, having those different narratives that culminate in a great many a thing, you have to listen. Two people. You have to acknowledge them, but also start looking for what you're not used to seeing.


Josh Slotnick: [00:20:14] Thanks for that explanation Rajiem, because that is something we have heard. You're phrasing it just right. What do you mean? This isn't a bad place? What are you talking about? And I think it's important to, as you are pointing out, recognize that people speak from their own perspective. And it takes a big step to realize that your perspective is not the only perspective. So a question to all of you. Is there a community out there that's getting this more right? An example that we can look to and say, man, in 20 years we want to be like that.


Rozlyn Haley: [00:20:42] I want to say that what is really exciting about this work is that it's kind of new. I mean, we're moving into a new phase and can we model another community? Exactly. I would say no. And so a lot of these questions, what is equity? What is JEDI? The real question comes back to what is JEDI in Missoula? What is equity in Missoula? And so we're paving our way here. And what we have is a foundation is some pretty exciting stuff, right? We have elected officials and local government that is helping us move these efforts forward. So is there a model, is there another Missoula out there exactly like us? I don't think so. I think we have some good examples. King County is one that we've been working with over in Washington, and there's other examples in the country we can find through Naco and other organizations. But Missoula is going to have to find its own path. Great.


Rajiem Seabrook: [00:21:28] I'm going to just dovetail off of what Roz said. I think that this is the first time this is happening in American history, so we don't have a point to go back to. We can go back to, you know, women's rights. We can go back to the civil rights to kind of take a little bit off of this. But this is uncharted territory for society, period. For the first time, people are being heard and wanting to be heard. People are being asked to sit at the table. People are being asked to give narratives. This hasn't happened. So there isn't we can't just call up Spokane and be like, Hey, what are you guys doing? You know, we can't call Kansas City and say, Hey, give us what you give us because we're all, as I think, a country and society, we're all kind of going through this together. Are there some cities or states that are a bit more, you know, further down the road? Yes, they have larger populations, more money allocations, sometimes more progressive or conservative thoughts, feelings, emotions and actions. I don't want to get too into the weeds on that, but I think that as the city and county of Missoula, we have this rare privilege of blazing our own trail and not looking at to someone else's construct because again, what happened somewhere else, what even what happens in Bozeman isn't what's happening in Missoula. So we have something that could be very Missoula centric or Montana centric or Northwest centric, but we're still in those fledgling stages because we as a people, as a country, this is very new. Yeah, very new.


Josh Slotnick: [00:22:44] So I'm guessing some people are going to hear this and say it's new and it's exciting and this is something I want to have my fingerprints on. I want to be involved in it. What would you say to such a person?


Elisha Buchholz: [00:22:54] Please, please be involved. We've got a couple of different ways that you can reach out to us. The Missoula County Voice page has a JEDI page on it that you can go and sign up and get updates. We'll be posting our The JEDI Advisory Board bylaws as they're created and we want community feedback on those. If you wanted to reach out to me directly or Roz, you can just email us at Those are both really great ways and also just keep track of our communications team does a really good job of posting stuff on social media for us as well, so keep track of those and those are great ways to be involved and we want you involved. That's the whole point of this, is to have a collaboration between our elected officials, our staff and our community members.


Josh Slotnick: [00:23:33] Great. So when are you all hoping to have the advisory board up and running?


Elisha Buchholz: [00:23:38] Our plan is to have that bylaws and members selected by the end of the year so that at the beginning of 2024 we can really jump off.


Josh Slotnick: [00:23:46] Fantastic. And those meetings will be public? Absolutely. Once the board starts meeting.


Elisha Buchholz: [00:23:50] Absolutely. Great.


Juanita Vero: [00:23:52] Thanks. So have we missed anything that you wish we would have asked you or you need to clarify?


Rajiem Seabrook: [00:23:58] I would love to just say this. We live in a very reactive world. We hear words and we're very visceral in our reactions. Give yourselves 10s and elicit a better response. No one ever says, Hey, what was your first response? Everyone's like, What's your initial reaction? So people hear the word inclusivity. That does mean excluding or replacing someone else. I think diversity, too, is often attached with race. Diversity is a variant. There's a lot of diversity in this room, diversity in eye color, age, educational experience, and sometimes removing the very reactive words to it and looking at it on a broader spectrum. When you sit down with your financial advisor, I don't care if you're black, white, polka dot, Puerto Rican, transgender, the first thing that person says, How do you want to diversify your portfolio? We live in diversity all the time. When you go to Montana Club tonight, shameless plug. When you go to Montana Club tonight, you don't want to just open your menu and see potato soup for every entry you want to see potato soup, you want to see burgers, you want to see ribs, you want to see seafood. You want your menu to be diverse. You know what I mean? So understanding that diversity means a bunch of things coming together. And it's not about excluding anyone. It's not about replacing people. It's not. Always just about the visceral things that we are passively being trained to react to. Have your own response. Sit down with someone, hear a narrative, have an exchange, and then go with it from there. What does JEDI mean to you? Not what you heard on Fox, not what you heard on BBC, not what you heard on CNN. What is it for you? Just like Roz says, what is JEDI for Missoula? And then take it on that one. Take yourself on that journey.


Juanita Vero: [00:25:32] Oh, that's great.


Dave Strohmaier: [00:25:33] Thank you. One of our traditions, before we let our guests leave, is to ask them, Is there a good book any of you have read recently a nugget of wisdom that you'd like to share with us? Anyone who wants to jump in? Elisha? Roz? 


Rozlyn Haley: [00:25:48]I'm not gGoing to give you a book or necessarily a nugget of wisdom. This was a flash in the middle of the night last night when I was thinking about all of this coming together in terms of equity and building off of what Rahim was saying. You know, people think that we have this pie, that we have to split up among ourselves. And what I see is more like a potluck. The more people you bring to the table, the more food you have, the more options you have and the better it is.


Rajiem Seabrook: [00:26:14] I do have a book. I have two...


Dave Strohmaier: [00:26:16] Lay it on us


Rajiem Seabrook: [00:26:17] I read one at least three times a year every year. It's called The Art of War. You may have heard of it. And then another one that I would totally suggest is called Decolonizing Wealth by Edgar Villanueva. And it's an impressive book. It shows you how money is tied up into so many different things. But just the power over versus the power with when it comes to money, grants, scholarships, financial allocations in our country, it's sort of scary and painful and very sad, but I suggest reading it nonetheless.


Speaker7: [00:26:46] Thanks.


Elisha Buchholz: [00:26:46] I have three books that I would like to recommend that I've read in the last six months. One of them is The Sum of Us by Heather McGee, and it really talks a lot about what Roz was talking about, how there's this idea that there's a pie, and if somebody gets some, then I don't. And that's not the reality that we live in. Also Stamped from the Beginning by Ibram X. Kendi is a fantastic book. It's a heavy read, so I recommend maybe splitting it up a little bit, but it is so, so full of knowledge. And then also Poverty by America, by Matthew Desmond. That book, I always say it didn't really teach me anything I didn't already know, but it was a really great way to articulate all the things that I know about why we are where we are.


Dave Strohmaier: [00:27:23] Thanks so much for joining us.


Elisha Buchholz: [00:27:25] Thank you for having us.


Josh Slotnick: [00:27:26] Thanks for listening to the Tip of the Spear podcast. If you enjoy these conversations, it would mean a lot if you would rate and review the show on whichever podcast app you like. And if you know a friend who would like to keep up with what's happening in local government, be sure to recommend this podcast to them. The Tip of the Spear podcast is made possible with support from better known as Missoula Community Access Television and our staff in the Missoula County Communications Division. If you have a question or topic you'd like us to address on a future episode, email it to and to find other ways to stay up to date with what's happening at Missoula County, go to and thanks for listening.