Please vote for Zavier Borja in the upcoming May election. Here is my reasoning in favoring Mr. Borja for the Bend Park & Recreation District board of directors:
In making hiring decisions, the life experiences are not often valued or accepted as sources of knowledge because they do not fit into conventional authoritative frameworks or traditional academic disciplines.
Many of us in business or academia have experienced conflicts when choosing between one applicant who had impeccable academic credentials and another candidate who was highly qualified in that regard but brings to the table their life’s experiences as a person of color (POC) or represents another underrepresented group.
When running the numbers, life experiences are difficult to quantify but should be considered highly valuable for the constituents (e.g., the public) served by that person. What they know, others can never learn. Special knowledge can come from a world view shaped by one’s life history.
While it is possible for a person to learn on the job and add to their library of facts about a subject, it is impossible for a person to learn the cultural influences that have taken a lifetime of another to experience.
With this argument in mind, I would like you to consider voting for Zavier Borja, who is running for position 4 on the board of directors. Zavi is a first-generation Mexican American who was born and raised here in Bend.
This energetic young man has worked on many community organizing projects that have focused on advancing recreation youth programs for persons of color, including his role as founder of the Central Oregon chapter of Latino Outdoors.
I would like to argue that Zavi has the experiential knowledge that the board is lacking, and this makes him uniquely qualified to address a critical unmet need in our community — POC do not use parks, trails and other amenities even though they pay taxes to support those facilities. I would argue that it is the fiduciary responsibility of the district to address this as an unmet need.
It is clear to many of us that POCs do not take advantage of the recreational facilities enjoyed by most of Bend’s other residents. This is a problem recognized by the district board and may be the most important issue addressed in the coming year. It is a problem not unique to Bend and has been recognized by regional parks and the National Park System nationwide.
In some communities, the reasons for lack of participation have been identified as issues of transportation, fear of discrimination, cultural differences and economic concerns, not in any order.
It will be important for the park district to apply the metrics used by other communities to determine which factors are at play in our city that cause the 20,000 Latinx folks of Bend not to use our facilities. Here in Bend, the solution to this issue will best be found if Zavier Borja is elected to the park board. His special knowledge as an underserved minority and his access to the Latinx community will best serve that unmet need.