New app gives community members a tour through local Black history

There’s a 16-person steering committee, largely composed of Black residents. Meetings for the launch began back in August, as each member brought forth their areas of expertise.

Posted: Feb 24, 2021 12:51 PM
Updated: Feb 24, 2021 7:47 PM

LANE COUNTY -- PeaceHealth and the Eugene Marathon have collaborated in the creation of a new app called ‘Strides for Social Justice.’

The app was launched on Feb. 19 and walks community members through multiple historic and prominent spots surrounding local Black history.

Community members have the chance to learn about the exciting accomplishments, contributions and also the realities faced from Black residents over the years.

The pandemic cancelled last year’s Eugene Marathon, which PeaceHealth is the exclusive healthcare sponsor of. So, brainstorming began on how a difference could still be made. This came after the killings of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and others that leaders said sparked their desire to take action.

“The idea began to take form, because we really wanted to take our idea of collaboration to the next level and really focus our efforts on social justice initiatives,” Marcy Marshall with PeaceHealth Oregon said.

Marshall said collaboration was key.

"It was really important to have different voices at the table with different areas of expertise to help determine the right approach for the routes, the content and making sure it was a meaningful experience for our community," Marshall said.

Race Director Ian Dobson agreed, saying this may have been out of their normal scope of work, but it was something incredibly needed in the community.

“Is there a role that we can play in this larger conversation around race in our country right now? Dobson asked. "And if so, what could that be -- acknowledging our own limitations and all that.”

There’s a 16-person Steering committee, largely composed of Black residents. Meetings for the launch began back in August, as each member brought forth their areas of expertise.

DeLeesa Meashintubby has been a Eugene resident for over 20 years. She’s a member of the committee.

“We look forward,” Meashintubby said. “Our past is our past, but that's what also paves the way for our future. For us to know our past is a good way for us to know how to get to the future.”

She said the children are our future, and it's important to engage and educate beginning at an early age.

"When you get 16 wonderful minds together, you know everything is not going to flow smoothly at all times," Meashintubby said. "But I'll tell you what --everything worked out perfectly. It was just like you could tell this was meant to be. The way it worked together and it was so synchronized greatly.”

Dobson weighed in.

“This is a community that lacks a lot of diversity, and that's not something that has to be that way,” Dobson said. “It's not something that this app is going to change, but for our little universe and for the Eugene Marathon and the running community we have a lot of work to do.”

The app is simple to navigate. You select the tour of your choice and are guided through various spots around the community.

Right now, there are four tours you can take: Downtown Eugene, West Eugene, Westmoreland Park and South Eugene.

The length of each tour does vary, but it's encouraged that you walk, run, bike or roll from landmark to landmark. Interactive exercises can be found throughout the app. One of the goals is also to encourage physical activity within the community.

"We have a vision and a dream of expanding this not only broadly across Lane County but maybe the state and beyond," Marshall said. "Additionally, we started out with focusing on our Black community members, and we would potentially like to expand to other people of color and really just draw attention to the impacts of the beauty of diversity within our community and beyond."

The app currently has over 250 downloads and can be accessed through iOS and Android app stores. The plan is for more tours to be added to the app soon, including the University of Oregon. Plus, there's three pillars: history, health and heart.

There’s also a chance on the app to contribute toward the NAACP’s Mattie Reynolds Scholarship fund for students.

"I applaud PeaceHealth and the Eugene Marathon for coming together and doing something like this to not only educate people of color, but it educates our whole community," Meashintubby said.

To download 'Strides for Social Justice,' CLICK HERE.

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