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Book Club Will Address Social Equity

Anand Giridharadas

Park City Council has established social equity as a critical priority and last year granted a $100 thousand dollar contract to Park City Community Foundation to define and implement a community wide plan. One element of the plan is about to launch - it’s a social equity book club which will gather for the first-time next Monday. Carolyn Murray has this:

Equity and equality are two strategies used to produce fairness, but they have very different meanings. Equality is treating everyone the same and equity is when everyone gets the help they need to be at the same starting point.

Diego Zagarra is the Social Equity Director with the Park City Community Foundation. He said they are working to define social equity and provide a mission statement. A meeting is set for later in February when they’ll introduce the draft plan and seek public input.

“Our role for the next year is, in collaboration with the city, is to create a multi-year strategic plan, to address issues the community identifies that are important and pertaining to social equity. You know, there’s a certain ineffability to it because it means different things to each group. And, we are working towards a vision statement. I believe we are getting closer. And, at the core of this, I think, is inclusivity. People having access to resources, feeling welcomed and valued. So, I believe it will shape up a little bit that way.”

He hopes the book club is one way for people to get together to talk about issues that impact social equity. 

“And, I thought, what if we were to provide an avenue, a specific outlet for people to connect on this issue – people that may not know each other, then frame that with a book.  A very specific theme, a very specific tack and then come together once a month to talk about issues of diversity, equity, inclusion that revolve around social equity.”

Park City Librarian, Katrina Kmak is helping Zagarra get the initiative off the ground.

“We started talking, just initially, about how there are so many different books and titles that are so inclusive, especially in the last five years. So many books with diverse authors, so many books with diverse characters, so many non-fiction that are bringing all of this up.  So, we are in communication together. I sent a bunch of titles over their way. And then Diego had come up with the handful of titles and I am like, we would love to provide some copies of these books for you guys. So, we purchased a handful of books. We have some in our book club collection. And it just seems to make sense. Libraries are all about intellectual freedom and anybody learning anything they want to at any given time, so it seemed very sensible.”

Zagarra said the book club has more than 50 people who have expressed interest. He picked the first three books and said there may also be supplements like pod casts or movies used to enhance the community discussion.

The first book they’ll discuss is about power and philanthropy.
“The book is called: Winners Take All. The author is Anand Girridaradas and he was a former writer for the New York Times. It’s a very thought provoking and compelling read on power sharing, the state of philanthropy, how we allocate power and how we distribute charity money so to speak. But, it really explores broad systems issues.”

For this first read, Zagarra said they are calling it a pilot. He was surprised with how many people have signed up to participate in the discussion. Next month the book selection is Born a Crime by comedian, Trevor Noah. It deals with issues of race and diversity.

“I think the themes will change month to month. Some months it might be about LGBTQ plus issues, some months it will be about race. Some months it will be about gender. I hope that we can build a tent large enough that people can see themselves in it.”

The Library has ordered extra hard books, e-books and audio books, so for those interested in next months read, Zagarra encourages people to contact the library.

The community has the first opportunity to hear about the social equity implementation plan on Tuesday, February 26th at the Blair Education Center at Park City Hospital. 
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