UCBR & TMI Project Presents: DEI Program 2023
For the second year, the Ulster County Board of REALTORS® partnered with the TMI Project® to conduct their Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Program. Hosted at the YMCA on Broadway in Kingston, we had a large turnout for this successful event. To add to it all, Stone Soup catered various sandwiches, sides, and sweet treats for our UCBR members. Mary and Micah from The TMI Project® introduced their organization and shared its mission of providing a platform to amplify those not usually heard. They mainly use podcasts, videos, and other materials as tools for social justice throughout the Internet and social media.
We then moved on to learning about Micah’s journey through life in the Hudson Valley and how his experience of being exposed to varied cultures has influenced his understanding of stereotypes held by different groups, from race to religion to sexual orientation. Mary also shared her own perspective, detailing her preconceived biases as well as any discrimination she had faced. By telling their stories, both Micah and Mary created a platform for all to become aware of the unconscious prejudices we may have been subjected to due to our cultural backgrounds.
Micah then led us into a lesson about mindfulness in which he gave his definition of what that means to him, “paying attention on purpose, moment to moment, while it’s happening without judgment.” He then led the group to conduct a brief awareness exercise, having everyone close their eyes and be aware of their bodies and thoughts. He read off some feelings for the group to acknowledge and the thoughts that they go to when hearing the following words:
The group was then shown a short video that told the story of Tinalynn or Freedom Writer, a member of the TMI Project®, who experienced displacement due to the gentrification of her Harlem neighborhood. Rising rents and the loss of rent assistance resulted in her and her family being evicted and rendered homeless. However, a family member connected them to a shelter in Kingston, where they helped her secure an apartment. In addition, Freedom Writer noted that Kingston was seeing a similar phenomenon, where people from the city were purchasing more affordable housing, thus gentrifying the area. Her powerful message was that gentrification could be both beneficial and damaging, and the devastating consequences for those who lose their homes must be stopped.
After a brief Q&A about the video, many shared their frustrations about how the author was forced out of her home due to the greed of some developers. The group also agreed that REALTORS® should be involved in the various committees with their UCBR memberships. Those committees, especially those on the state level, where they can give a voice to those who are not being heard. If you are interested in joining one of the committees, please get in touch with Allison at the UCBR office at (845) 338-5299 or by email at email@example.com.
The REALTOR® group was asked to complete a writing exercise where they were given three minutes to write about what home means to them. Steve shared what home means to him and his love and need for coffee. For sharing his story, he received a TMI Project® sweatshirt that he proudly showed off to the group. We hope Steve finally had his beloved cup of coffee at the YMCA. Paula shared her next story about what home meant and received a TMI Project® sweatshirt.
The group then went into the following writing exercise, where they were given ten minutes to write about one of the following topics:
- A home you liked living in the least or the most
- A time where you were displaced or experienced housing insecurity
- Purchase of your first home
Peter started first, sharing a story about the home he enjoyed living in the most. Chevon then shared her story about a heartbreaking experience with a happy ending. Other members also shared their personal stories about one of the subjects above that deeply touched the others in the room.
We finally moved to the last writing assignment, where the REALTOR® members were given five minutes to write about one of the following topics:
- What you love about and/or what you find challenging about your work
- A belief about homeownership that has changed in some way
- A time a client may have been impacted by bias or oppression and what you did or wish you had done
The members were once again hard at work writing what came to their minds about one of the topics above. After five minutes, some members were asked to share their writing. Peitta Williams, a member of our Community Service Council, shared a story where she had a client that was discriminated against with no realtors wanting to show them a home. Piette was able to step in and help them buy their dream home. Meghan was next to share her vision about being able to help all her clients by having the capital to help them buy their dream home and the complexity of following the rules as a REALTOR® but also wanting to do the best for their clients.
We closed with members’ comments about how we, as REALTORS®, can be better allies, help our community, and be more aware of helping those most in need. Micah reiterated his definition of mindfulness and reminded us to pay attention without judgment.
We plan to hold another DEI event with the TMI Project® in the fall, so stay tuned for news and updates regarding the event. We hope to see everyone again at our other events, and thank you to all members who joined us!
A special thank you to our amazing sponsors! Please be sure to help support our sponsors, who always help us with our events!
Ulster Savings Bank
Sawyer Savings Bank
Rondout Savings Bank