Originally posted in April 2021
The inaugural meeting of the newly formed Human Relations Commission took place last month. Leading up to the first meeting, there was an overwhelming desire from residents to serve on this committee, and members of Etna Borough Council had a very difficult time choosing just five residents to serve. In the end, members who were chosen were all active LGBTQI advocates and had really inspiring ideas for the work that the new committee could do. Initially thought of as a body that would help to resolve claims of discrimination between two parties, it quickly became clear that this group would be interested in going beyond this scope to become advocates and educators in our community. The committee will be participating in a training session along with their counterparts in Sharpsburg to better understand their role in the community and the mission of the committee. Afterward, they will begin to design a vision for their future work. The new committee members are: Ryan Gott, Dena Stanley, Allison Butka, Sophia Kachur, and Lindsay Huff. Before their community outreach begins, we’d like to highlight a few of the members of this new committee.
Sophia Kachur is an Etna native who is at Roanoke College, studying Spanish and Political Science with a focus on local government. Sophie states that
“Etna is filled with such interesting and amazing people, both those who've lived here with their family for generations and those who've just moved in. Everyone has a story to tell and I'm always happy to listen and learn a new piece of local history, which is something I love that I get to experience in Etna.” She joined the HRC because she is really passionate about diversity, equity, and inclusion. Sophie “knows we can always do better on these issues and wants to ensure Etna is always striving to be more welcoming and supportive of its residents, old and new.”
Ryan Gott is an entomologist and "plant health doctor" who moved to Etna in the summer of 2019. He loves the small-town feel that Etna has while still having instant access to the city when needed. Ryan wanted a way to be involved in the borough because he sees how fast Etna is growing and changing in so many positive directions. This provided a great way for him to give back to Etna and its residents.
Lindsay Huff is a queer artist, educator, and metalsmith. She has lived in Etna with her partner since 2013, but she grew up in Pittsburgh just up the river in O'Hara. Lindsay says,
“I love the smallness of Etna. I take a neighborhood walk with our 17-month-old every day and we love seeing the same folks walking their dogs or on the swings at the park. The sense of collaboration and community is something that's vital to my art practice and I love seeing it in action here in the borough amongst residents who are mutually excited to make things more equitable for everyone.” Lindsay volunteered to serve (and was thrilled to be chosen) on the Humans Relations Commission because she wants to help create a neighborhood that is inclusive and celebrates diversity in all its forms. As a queer person who grew up very closeted and isolated, she thinks of the importance of visibility for young people--to know that you're not alone is such a gift. Lindsay “wants to do her part to help create an Etna where people know that it's safe to be themselves.”
We are thrilled to have passionate individuals working on these important issues in our community, and can’t wait to see the positive impact they will have in the future!