What does the pressure for fairness and justice look like in Colorado Springs right now? We asked the new citizen project manager
In November, Drew Houston became the new executive director of Citizens Project, a longtime advocacy group in Colorado Springs that focuses on issues of equity and inclusion, justice and civic engagement.
Houston is from Colorado Springs and got her first taste of community activism when she fought to change her school’s mascot.
Today, after several months of work, Houston spoke with Mike Procell of KRCC about her new role, what made her get there, and what she hopes for the organization.
Mike Procell from KRCC: In the years after high school, you held a number of roles focused on social justice as a volunteer and professional. What were some of these experiences like?
Drew houston: More recently, I worked as a community organizer for a foundation for health equity. Fairness is one of those broad terms that encompasses so many things. Social justice is certainly well served by seeking equity for all.
I have also worked with CONO (Council of Neighbors and Organizations) as a volunteer while working on one of their programs for the southeast side of Colorado Springs.
KRCC: Something in particular stands out from these programs?
Houston: One of the main strengths has been the community leadership program offered by the Creative Leadership Center. This program just dug so deep, not only how to lead others, but how to lead yourself first. I left this program feeling fundamentally changed for the better.
KRCC: And you’re kind of drawn to the verbs, literally, in Citizens Project’s mission statement, which is said to be engaging, empowering, and community empowering. Do you still have concrete plans how you started to implement them in the future?
Houston: Much of our work has been to continue the efforts already in place. And now we also have the opportunity to look ahead and examine how we are acting around our newly identified value system.
Citizens Project is known for championing diversity, equality and the separation of church and state. And as we continue to do so, these will fall under the umbrella of our new values of equity, inclusion and justice. We really have intentional conversations and strategic planning about what steps we will take to uphold these values.
KRCC: On that note, one of the most recent developments in the city of Colorado Springs is the Law Enforcement, Transparency and Accountability Commission, or LETAC. Do you think this is enough?
Houston: One of my volunteer opportunities was my involvement with Colorado Springs Lighting Project. It was a joint effort to build trust, to increase transparency and communication between the CSPD and the Colorado Springs community. These conversations started at a time when a lot of people were saying, “Why are you shaking the pot?”
Since then, things have happened in Colorado Springs that have caused the community to sit down and take note and recognize that there is work to be done in this area. So for me, I’m very excited. And I really think LETAC is a step in the right direction, and a necessary step to take.