Violeta Rubiani serves on Metro’s Parks and Nature Equity Advisory Committee. She was born and raised in Paraguay and has lived in Oregon since 2000.
She is the grants director at the MRG Foundation and previously worked as a program associate at Meyer Memorial Trust. Rubiani is a graduate of the Pan Immigrant Leadership and Organizing Training (PILOT) at Unite Oregon, a nonprofit working to build an intercultural movement for justice.
Q. Why were you interested in serving on the committee?
A: I thought it was a great opportunity to have my voice, my perspective or my community’s perspective heard at Metro. At that time, I had been working on equity issues at Meyer Memorial Trust for a couple of years, and I sort of started to understand how marginalized communities hardly ever have a seat at the table. It’s important that when we have the opportunity, that we show up. Change is not going to happen only from person to person, but it has to happen at the institutional level.
Q. How does your work outside of the committee bring perspective to decision-making?
A. Because the committee is so diverse and includes so many voices, we are able to give the full picture of what’s problematic about (an issue), how it came to be like that or ask questions about why the decision is being made. Because of the work I do outside of the committee, I’m bringing a lens or an understanding of some of the issues that affect all marginalized communities. Every member of the committee probably has expertise. But when you take all of those individual perspectives and take into account the larger voice, that’s where I think our work could be really impactful.
Q. What does an equity lens mean to you?
A. Equality is giving everybody the same. To me, equity is giving people what they need. I don’t think you can have equity without listening to diverse perspectives. I think for so many of our institutions, that has been the reason why systematic inequities are perpetuated, because we don’t have enough voices at the table. If we don’t understand where our communities are coming from, what their lens is, then how are we going to be able to serve them? I read recently that equity is the ability to have options. If you really want equity, then you really need to understand what would bring people to the table, assuming they want to be at the table.