After six months of work on the east side of St. Paul, Fostering an East Side Transit Equity Conversation (FESTEC) will receive its first award. The Rosa Parks Diversity Leadership Award is given annually by the local Chapter of WTS International. Founded in 1977, WTS is dedicated to building the future of transportation through the overall advancement of women. The annual awards process recognizes local individuals or organizations, and local winners are placed in contention for the international award to be given later in the year.
The Fostering an East Side Transit Equity Conversation (FESTEC) campaign was a six-month organizing blitz that took an historic approach to organizing for transit on the East Side of St. Paul. A steering committee of District Councils and other neighborhood groups hired nine organizers of color, many of whom live in the neighborhood. The organizers worked to bring forward the voices of women, low-income, and communities of color to provide input to decisions made about transit on the East Side.
With this diverse organizing group, they were able to bring together a large town hall meeting. The meeting had over 75% people of color and good representation of elders, youth, women and men. They developed a set of four Transit Equity Principles to guide future transit projects, using an equity framework that made central the issues of under-represented communities.
One of the FESTEC Transit Equity Principles is “everyone benefits” – encouraging a concentration on historically under-served communities. This includes advocating for equity in project hiring, as well as protection for small business communities that might be impacted by transit projects.
The award is given for exhibiting extraordinary efforts in facilitating opportunities for professional women and minorities. FESTEC significantly contributed to promoting diversity, inclusion and multicultural awareness.