Coming soon to a lobby near you…

Dear WES community,

We are excited to share this photo of our new history panels! You will see the real thing the next time you enter the WES building, whether tonight for Wednesdays@WES or this Sunday for Spring Festival.

These panels are the culmination of about two years of work, beginning with a conversation between the Stewardship Team and the Board about how to honor our history and express gratitude to all those who have been part of the creation of WES space. We decided to focus on the building itself, as the physical representation of “home” for WES. Inside are amazing stories to tell, not just about our four walls, but also about on our values and our social justice commitments. We want to preserve those stories, while honoring all the people–starting back in 1944–who have helped make a reality the places we have called home. (Check out this history quiz and search for the answers on the panels!)

The Stewardship Team collected these stories, reaching out to past Leaders, past Board presidents, and more, and scoured our photo archives for images to match. We then worked with an artist to create a design that conveys our history and message. Through all of this, the Stewardship Team stayed in touch with two groups:  the Board, to make sure that we were working in a way consistent with their vision, and a group of donors whose generosity we wanted to share as part of the story. Finally, the Stewardship Team met with representatives of the Anti-Racism Anti-Oppression Multicultural Audit Team for their perspective. They suggested enlightening changes, which the Stewardship Team accepted, and here we are…ready for roll out!  

While many folks have embraced what has become “the history panels,” others have wondered if it is consistent with WES values to include the names of individual donors alongside individual volunteers, founders, and Leaders. We think so, but we certainly understand the question. At its heart, the question raises a core concern:  does recognizing donors, particularly large donors, mean that they are valued differently than those who are not able to, or choose not to, donate at the same level? It is important to us that the answer is emphatically: WES values all its members, no matter the level of monetary donations they make. WES members are involved in decision-making through their engagement, in line with our governance processes, with no preference given to large donors. They do not get more votes, a stronger voice, more time with the staff, or anything along those lines. Unfortunately, they also sometimes do not get a lot of appreciation, even though they have chosen to make generous gifts that literally make our building, our home, possible.We wanted to create a way to show appreciation for generosity, while also telling the fullest possible story about the building that houses the community of individuals who constitute WES. This is why the history panels also include the names of those who served on committees, led social justice efforts, and are memorialized in our building. The financial generosity of the group of donors named is by no means the whole story of who we are…yet, at the same time, we felt that their story, which has until now been entirely untold, deserved to be shared.

As we prepare to roll out these panels, we are grateful to everyone who was involved: the Stewardship Team, led by Kris Maccubbin and including core input from Peter Kent, Cayo Gamber, Hannah Urrey, Perry Saidman; the ARAOMC Audit Team, led for this initiative by Trang Duong and Brenna Barber; the 2017-18 and 2018-19 Boards; and staff members Amanda Poppei, Tom Hutton, and Zeb Green.

We hope you enjoy reading the stories as much as we enjoyed finding them. And, as always, we welcome feedback about the history panels. As with any new addition, some will find it challenging and some will love it. We are committed to whatever conversations may feel helpful to the community. If there is sufficient desire for a group conversation, we are happy to create space for that and, of course, are open to continuing individual conversations.

With appreciation,
The WES Board, Stewardship Team, and Amanda