Schenectady County Embraces Diversity (SCED)

SICM sponsoring discussion groups on diversity

By Vanessa Langdon/For The Daily Gazette April 4, 2016

SCHENECTADY — A series of discussion groups focusing on diversity and community are being sponsored by the group Schenectady County Embraces Diversity.

“Dialogue to Change” discussions start this week and continue for the next six. The groups meet for two hours once a week, and are focusing on the theme “Facing Racism in a Diverse Nation.”

“It’s not just a group where we complain and talk about problems. We make a plan about what we can change,” said the Rev. Horace Sanders, chief diversity officer of Schenectady Inner City Ministry. “When the groups meet we sit down we talk about diversity, we talk about race relations, we talk about things that are pertinent and relevant of the participants in the group and when it’s all said and done we come up with an action plan about what they can do.”

The discussion groups follow a curriculum that offers a structured way to promote dialogue and understanding that could lead to action, according to a statement from the Schenectady Inner City Ministry.

Sanders explained that the meetings are not lectures but participant-led conversations. “We’re looking for people who are willing to talk and share — share their experiences and thoughts,” he said.

Registration for the groups is ongoing at or through the SICM office at 1055 Wendell Ave. There are groups that meet in the morning, afternoon and evening throughout the week; registrants can rank days and times by preference and will be placed in a group accordingly.

Sanders says the discussion groups are a way to bridge gaps in society, and are open to all adults, of at least 21 years of age, across Schenectady County.

“Not only will people come from diverse backgrounds but different communities, different cultures,” Sanders said. “It all adds a bit of diversity to the conversation.”

While the groups will be led by members of the Schenectady County Inner City Ministry, Sanders stressed that the conversation will not focus on religion.

“This is something that’s open to the entire community, it’s something that’s designed to enhance the relations we have between different and diverse communities,” Sanders said. “We’re open to all different ethnic background — there’s no area of diversity that we’re excluding.”

Schenectady County Embraces Diversity was formed by SICM in partnership with the YWCA of Northeastern New York, the League of Women Voters, the Schenectady County Human Rights Commission, Schenectady County Community College and others.

These dialogues will be the first foray for the organization into adult programing. Up until now they have focused on high school and middle school students, efforts that continue.

“I’m very excited about it because it’s very much a proven experience that can lead to people having transformative experience through the process,” said Rev. Phillip Grigsby, executive director of the Schenectady Inner City Ministry. “It’s a very important topic and it’s an unfinished agenda in our community so we’re encouraging folks to join up.”

For more information, visit . To preview the curriculum, visit .