Misty Blue: Why I Work At Rainbow Research
My first, and most important role, is that of mother. While I have always been committed to social justice, becoming a mother has imparted so much urgency to this social justice work that I do and that I hope to do.
Parenting and single parenting have been incredibly fulfilling and provided me so much motivation to always keep learning. My 8 year old daughter is a constant source of inspiration and funny stories. But this has not all been without challenge; I have found that many of the challenges that my little one and I have faced have mostly been due to systems that have been created without consideration of our family structure and identities. This lack of consideration for moms and single moms has very real consequences for many mamas and babies. And this is what brought me to the field of public health and research.
Through my studies at University of Minnesota (UMN), School of Public Health and my current work, I am committed to bettering health for all women and children, with particular attention to the mamas and babies of my own communities. As a member of the White Earth Nation, as an Ojibwe women, I recognize that American Indian/Indigenous women face unique barriers and challenges. More importantly, I recognize that we also hold lots of resiliency and cultural knowledge that offers so much to the conversations of health, health equity and public health. Specifically, I reject the notion that health is simply the absence of disease and injury. I would like to talk more about how health necessitates ceremony, connection, and being creative. It is within these identities, values and experiences that I enter my research and evaluation work at Rainbow Research.
At Rainbow Research, I work on a portfolio of evaluation, evaluation capacity-building, and technical assistance projects in Minnesota and the Midwest. Some projects include an evaluation of Tiwahe Foundation’s micro-granting program, an evaluation capacity building project that supports grantees of the Greater Twin Cities United Way’s food system investments in North Minneapolis, and a similar project working with the grantees of Northwest Area Foundation’s Reservation-Based Work Opportunity Initiative.
As a society we have agreed that data is important, and we base many of our policies and laws on data. Owning data, making meaning from, and communicating that data to the right audiences can be powerful and persuasive process for organizations and communities to advocate for their needs, especially those that have been marginalized. I see my role as facilitating a space and building skills to transform disjointed data into a meaningful synthesis that can be owned and useful to communities.