Our Mission, Vision & Values

An organization’s Mission, Vision and Values statements are its heart and soul.

Ideally, they define what we do, how we do it, and why.

And they are our DNA, the imprint that we pass on to all staff, volunteers and program participants. Want to know what makes Solid Ground unique? How are we distinguished from partner agencies? Look at our Mission, Vision and Values.

As part of an ongoing new strategic planning process, Solid Ground has just revised these statements. They move beyond addressing poverty to calling out racism and other oppressions that are fundamental contributors to poverty, homelessness and hunger.

“Our previous Mission, Vision and Values statements were written over 10 years ago and as such, did not reflect the major shifts in direction which have taken place,” says Solid Ground Board Chair, Lauren McGowan.

“The new statements speak to our strong commitment to working collaboratively in the communities we serve and to ending racism and other oppressions that keep people poor. They are a direct result of the work we have been doing at Solid Ground to undo institutional racism in our organization and in the community.”

The changes were developed through an extensive process that involved staff  at all levels of the agency, Board members and program participants.

“These new statements are the building blocks for the Strategic Plan we will complete in December,” says McGowan. “They represent both a track record of providing innovative and effective services to people in need and our aspirations for the future. As our community continues to struggle though this challenging economic climate, Solid Ground is committed to ensuring that everyone has access to food, housing, transportation and justice.”


Solid Ground works to end poverty and undo racism and other oppressions that are root causes of poverty.

Solid Ground believes our community can move beyond poverty and oppression to a place where all people have access to quality housing, nutritious food, equal justice and opportunities to thrive.

Solid Ground is committed to working with compassion, integrity, accountability, creativity and an anti-oppression approach to end homelessness, hunger, inequality and other barriers to social justice. We value collaboration and leadership from the communities we serve.

Bearing down with white privilege

Roger Clemens with a fan

As a white person engaged in anti-racism work, one of the things I struggle to get a firm grip on is my white privilege: that internal voice and belief system that tells me everything is going to be ok and I’ll usually come out on top.

It’s an arrogance that comes from looking like the people who have ruled this country for generations, regardless of my own personal or family story.

I’m raising a teenage daughter and working hard not to pass on the blind sense of privilege I inherited. Never mind the fact that I’m not too far removed from immigrant grandparents who had barely a grade-school education. My parents were both professionals with advanced degrees. No matter how much they might have suffered as first generation Americans, they passed on to me the internalized expectation that I was as good as anyone, that I would have adequate, if not surplus, resources and never know want. I am white, a man, and now, unfailingly older – privileged to the power of three.

Through my experience with the anti-racism organizing at Solid Ground, I have learned to identify my privileges. I strive to recognize my privilege programming in my daily interactions with others, and to recognize that my sense of entitlement and privilege is far from the reality of most who come to Solid Ground for work, services or a way to participate in building a better community.

I was reminded of the benefits of white privilege in a round-about way last month. Reading the The Seattle Times Sports section, I learned that famous pitcher Roger Clemens’ trial for perjury ended in mistrial. Clemens was accused  of lying in statements made during previous legal actions concerning his alleged use of performance enhancing drugs.

Judge Reggie Walton ruled that prosecutors had used “extremely prejudicial” evidence in the trial and let him off on what amounts to a technicality. Clemens’ crack legal team and the incompetence of prosecutors assigned to the case got him off the hook.

On the other hand, our judicial system is stuffed full of people, disproportionately people of color, who have been entrapped, held and convicted because of prejudicial evidence, overbearing police tactics and unprepared civil defense teams. The vast majority of people who are incarcerated do not have access to the high-powered defense team Clemens bought.

And they certainly don’t have fans throughout the court system the way Clemens does.

Following the trial’s abrupt end, Clemens “accepted hugs from a couple of court workers, shook hands with the security guards, and autographed baseballs for fans…” before “ducking into a nearby restaurant to escape the media horde following him.”

So, he strode into the courtroom, an award-winning pitcher taking to the mound, knowing his fastball and location would overwhelm his opponent. More disenfranchised people approach court expecting they will lose, regardless of the truth, and that their human dignity might well be assaulted along the way.

I’ve never thrown a Big League pitch nor made millions doing anything. But I share Clemens’ arrogance and assumption that I will win, that the world will take care of me. The real question, I guess, is what I do with that knowledge…

In hard times Americans need to tap into their social responsibility

The economic downturn has made the middle class less generous toward the poor and the people of color who make up the majority of poor people in America, according to an article in today’s Seattle Times (reprinted from the Philadephia Inquirer).

The story quotes South Carolina Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer as saying that when the government helps the poor, it’s like people feeding stray animals that continually “breed.”

And it recounts Colorado state legislator Spencer Swalm saying that poor people in single-family homes are “dysfunctional.”

People are insecure about the future and therefore they hang on to external differences to justify decisions that are not conducive to ending poverty in America. It’s not surprising then, we find ourselves asking the question: “Am I being treated fairly by my neighbor next door?”  Discrimination is on the rise in America and we ought to be aware of this trend and make others aware of it so we can understand why it’s happening. This is nothing more than a survival mechanism present in our society for decades, and it’s not going to go away without all of us getting involved.

As a society we have a social responsibility to the poor, not only because they have limiting factors that are beyond their control, but also because the alternative would result in more crime and misery for families around the country. Continue reading

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