26th annual Human Rights Conference has new location, more workshops

26th annual Human Rights Conference has new location, more workshops

BREMERTON — “Everyone who’s interested in human rights and what’s going on in Kitsap County” is invited to attend the 26h annual Conference for Human Rights.

From 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Dec. 9, Olympic College in Bremerton will, for the first time, host this annual event.

Peggi Erickson, co-chair of the Kitsap County Council for Human Rights and key coordinator of the conference, said the conference is open to the public. The new location also enables the conference to add more workshops than previous years, has more space for people to attend, and enables ticket prices to be lowered.

Tickets this year are $40 for adults and $25 for youth and students, high school and college. They can be purchased at brownpapertickets.com. Information and a direct link are available at the council website, www.kitsapgov.com/boards/humanrights/hrcboard.htm.

“Ticket sales and sponsorships pay for the cost of the conference,” said Rebecca Pirtle, volunteer services coordinator for Kitsap County, “which includes some scholarships.”

The 2016 sponsors include the host, Olympic College, as well as Kitsap Credit Union and the Kitsap County Board of Commissioners.

“The purpose of the conference is to educate people about human rights,” Erickson said, “and to also host conversations about human rights in Kitsap County.”

This year’s conference theme is implicit bias, which Erickson said everyone has to some extent, “due to our socialization.”

There will be two keynote speakers. Joy Williams, director of equity for the bar association, will “talk about implicit bias, especially around the criminal justice system,” Erickson said.

Barbara Lawrence-Piecuch is the second keynote speaker.

“She is a Suquamish elder and storyteller,” Erickson said. “She’s going to talk about the implicit bias experienced by Native people in the Puget Sound region.”

There will also be 11 workshops throughout the day. Those workshops include: Justified black fear and anger in America; Overcoming implicit bias toward immigrants; Recognizing Muslims as our neighbors; No place for hate; Exploring the roots of implicit racial bias; Why implicit bias is a reason for the NAACP to advocate for civil rights; Path to addressing implicit bias; The role of story in reducing implicit bias; Addressing implicit bias using restorative practices; Transmisogyny, implicit bias and public advocacy; and White privilege, class and implicit bias.

“This council was founded after a cross-burning incident happened in 1986 in Kitsap County,” Erickson said. “This year, we’ve had at least four different incidents of … what look like hate crimes in our community. We’re not through this by any means, yet.”

She added that the recent general election results have made many people “nervous over whether human rights are a high priority,” and many people even feel threatened.

“It’s really an important time to talk about this topic and come together … to say Kitsap is a place to honor human rights and protect human rights,” Erickson said.

“There’s a lot of groups right now that are interested in human rights and protecting human rights and making sure that people’s human rights are honored.”

Erickson said there will also be awards given at the conference, to recognize the work being done in the community to support human rights. There will be a certificate of appreciation granted for each of the three groups: adults, youth and organizations. Nominations can be made now; information is available on the website, www.kit sapgov.com/boards/humanrights/hrcboard.htm.

Michelle Beahm is a reporter with the Central Kitsap Reporter and Bremerton Patriot. She can be reached at mbeahm@soundpub lishing.com.