April’s Who,Why and What

I had a lovely request from a constituent that wanted to know my Who, Why and What. It was a beautiful question that required me to reflect on why I ran for City Council, Who I am (in this moment- as I have a zest for change and love to learn so my who is pretty fluid), and What I root myself in when making decisions as your City Council Member and in life.  I have also included my go to mantras and quote in hopes it will provide you a little more insight. Thank you all for your continued support and always pushing me to stretch my edges.

A 5 Sentence Bio

Upon graduating from WWU with a master’s degree, I was fortunate to find love, opportunity and acceptance in Bellingham and have made it my home for nearly two decades. I’m continually inspired by the natural beauty of this region; as your elected representative, I have found it my charge to protect that beauty and ensure all have access to it. As a substitute educator in the public schools and an elected official, I am reminded daily of the inequities in our community and that not everyone experiences love, opportunity and acceptance in Bellingham. It’s my deepest commitment and passion to learn from and acknowledge our twisted and gnarled past and how it has informed the policies and land use of today. I’m inspired daily by my own children and youth in our community to ‘just keep swimming’ in the direction of a just, inclusive and sustainable community and, by all means always, “smile and wave”.

April’s Who, Why and What

WHO-Inspired by the birth of our first child in 2005, I began serving our community in a variety of volunteer capacities since 2006. After the birth second kiddo in 2007 the realities of the great recession where among us and my eyes were opened wide to the impacts hitting some harder than others. During our second child’s second grade year, I heard a fellow educator refer to our son’s cohort as ‘recession babies.’ The implication was about their behaviors being ‘difficult’. I was deeply struck by the statement and after some research and self-reflection, I realized two things that deeply influence my societal views and interact with others today.

The first was, YES- difficult economic times have severe impacts on the youth of that era because of the intense stress felt by families with young children, AND we as a community can improve policies and systems to buffer the implications in a down economy, especially in the social determinates of health that influence our next tax base, our children and 51% of our labor force, our women who are the primary caregivers of, that’s right, our next tax base, our children. Imagine the positive implications if we as a community committed the wellbeing of children and woman!

My second realization was how we spin our own narrative, perpetuating negative stereotypes that will likely be propelled into fruition. What if my colleague would have referred to my son’s generation as “resiliency babies”? Afterall, the traumas many have endured more often result in strengths to their character- not weaknesses. How will those children achieve differently if we see and speak of their challenges as strengths; if we just took a moment to realize our words matter?

WHY-It was around this time in 2015 that our family was feeling some economic security, yet so many families who attend our children’s’ school weren’t. With less financial stress in my life, I was able to start digging into what was propelling so many disparities and lack of opportunity. I didn’t like what I found and certainly didn’t like the outlook for youth in our community especially with the National prediction of changing demographics and growing realities of climate. I felt compelled to do what was in my power to inspire change. I ran for Office with the intent of growing Bellingham into place that all children can thrive, grow up to be economically secure and find inspiration to be lifelong contributors to the success of their communities.

WHAT-You elected me be the Ward 1 representative for the City Council. I took office January 2016, having little background and education in public policy; I’ve had a steep learning curve! My innate sense of curiosity, value in life-long learning and experiences in athletics and coaching have primed me to be a strategic, productive, tenacious and successful elected. I received the Ken Gass Community Builders award for having a unique ability in motivating others to rally behind a cause to build a strong sense of community.

My life partner, father of my children and teacher at Bellingham Public Schools lovingly refers to me as ‘The Baking Soda’. “She’s a catalyst for change that results in pleasant and beautiful things.”

Go To Mantras

Along my life journey I have adopted a few mantras that help root me in my work as your elected, raising of our children and teaching others’ children are

  • We are stronger together
  • We are more similar than different
  • To fall down is to learn how to get back up
  • Its better to aim high and miss than aim low and hit
  • Trust is gained in drops and lost in buckets
  • Listen to what he does, not to what he says
  • Best to go into the fire rather than stand back and watch them burn
  • A behavior is only a behavior until it becomes a habit, a habit is only a habit until it becomes who you are. Changing who you are is as simple as changing your behavior- today.
  • Equality can only exist when equity is embedded in every policy, system and institution

Favorite Quote

The quote that I have held with me and come back to when I feel the public sentiment is unbalanced with the public good is:

“We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.” -Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Connect with April

I hope this post has helped provided insight into my who, why and what. If you have any further curiosities about myself or my intentions as your elected, want to share your perspective and hopes, or learn how you can engage, please call my personal cell phone 360.325.5128 and/or email me at abarker@cob.org.