Clockwise from top left, Raise the Frequency Founder Kress Jack, Sophie Cabral, participants Elana Rosen and Karine Malle, Clay Engels, and Paula Williams, founder of Shamebooth. Not pictured: Bonnie Powers and Jeffrey Levin of Poet and/the Bench and Marissa Wertheimer, a mediator and restorative justice trainer. Courtesy images.

In the eight weeks since the murder of George Floyd, a moment that galvanized people around the world to stand up against racial violence and systemic oppression, many local residents who turned out in droves in June to protest the killing of Floyd and so many others have sought ways to sustain the momentum of the movement.

That has included the efforts of MVCAN and others to keep the heat on City of Mill Valley officials to make headway on the the 22 recommendations from the community to address police reform via the data-driven #8cantwait, as well as to call for urgency and transparency around the formation of the  City’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Task Force.

Among the deeply energized was Kress Jack, whose multi-faceted Kress Jack at Home interior design business has been a Marin fixture since 2007, along with a number of local business owners, community leaders and parents, including Poet and/the Bench owners Bonnie and Jeffrey Levin, Paula Williams, Marissa Werthheimer, former Mill Valley Librarian Naima Dean, Randy and Katy Raven: Staffing Solutions and Athletic Director and Program Director of the Marin City CYO organization.

“I have three bi-racial kids, two daughters and a son, who were broken up and beaten down,” Jack says. “My kids are strong, have overcome a lot, and are hurting. They don’t understand why we don’t get it. I felt like I needed to do something. I’ve 
been researching, reading everything I can, and calling everyone I love to help me.” 

In the days following Floyd’s killing, in partnership with several local thought leaders, community members and parents, Jack founded Raise the Frequency, “a platform where knowledge, understanding and celebration coexist.” The organization seeks “to observe the pain of our children and loved ones navigating Mill Valley and the world as people of color. In order to change these realities, Raise the Frequency have gathered with a large group of community members to listen, learn and take action to create local systemic change.”

The organization debuted as a socially distant discussion group at Sycamore Park, and its mission seeks “to support the inclusion and advancement of BIPOC (black, Indigenous and people of color) through anti-racist experiences that allow knowledge, understanding and celebration to coexist in our community. That includes programs and events celebrating art, music, fashion, comedy, food and more, as well as speakers educating the community and mentoring an workshops on subjects like financial literacy, diversity training for city employees and community members to identify unconscious bias and facilitate change.

The Urgency of Now

But while Jack says the conversations have been impactful, the group has felt a sense of urgency to dive into making a tangible impact in the community immediately, starting with improving the diversity among the employees of Mill Valley businesses. 

“We are identifying several candidates from the Marin City community who are looking for steady employment,” Jack says. “As a group, we are going to help prepare them via mock interviews, resume help, dressing for success, etc., and then identify the jobs where they have a potential fit.  

​The effort will be helmed in part by Mill Valley resident Randy Raven, whose Staffing Solutions has made employer-employee connections, primarily in the hospitality industry, for more than 20 years. Raven and Play Marin founder Paula Austin will identify potential job candidates and guide them through the process of getting ready to go through the job seeking process, Jack says.

The key, Jack says, is to identify local businesses willing to be diversity and inclusion leaders who are ready and able to hire these candidates. Jack encourages interested employers to email her here.

“There is a lot of energy and interest, but I’m not sure how much has changed (since the protests in June),” jack says. “Before that fades away, we have to have some action

Jack says the organization is interested in an array of additional ventures, including the aforementioned police reform and cultural and educational programming, along with support for the Black Lives Matter street mural at the intersection of Miller Ave. and Camino Alto that has broad support but awaits approval from the City’s Arts Commission and related agencies. They also pursuing training and phone banking around get out the vote efforts, and hope to identify BIPOC candidates for openings on the Arts Commission, Jack says.

The work to date, and the work to come, all stems from those Immediate hours and days after Floyd’s murder, Jack says. 

“My daughters were in tears, saying things like ‘I don’t understand what this world is about anymore,’ and ‘how can this be OK'”? Jack says. “They were really torn up and they just didn’t know what to do.”

“I’m excited to be doing this work – we’ve got a lot more to do,” she adds.


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