by Scout Director, Network for LGBT Health Equity Reporting from Minnesota
Usually as a technical assistance provider I’m zipping in and out of a situation barely getting to know people before I’m off to another place, problem, or project. But in some pleasant cases I get to really stick around and build relationships with the folk doing work at the ground level. The best example of this is in the work I’m doing with the TAPP-INTO project, a consortium of technical assistance providers led by the Asian American tobacco disparity network (APPEAL). We’re working together to help statewide Minnesota tobacco networks get the most they can out of a five-year run of funding. As the science wonk of the team, I also get to float around to all the different disparity networks a bit more than some, which has taught me some great lessons in some of the cultural challenges different disparity networks face on a daily basis.
One of my most enjoyable long term relationships has been with the Southeast Asian Minnesota tobacco network, called STEEP. This is a collaboration of four different local Southeast Asian organizations, each representing a different nationality of people, coming together to jointly tackle tobacco disparities in their overlapping communities. The actual STEEP team is a group of four community educators, each funded by their own organization, that come together with one outside organizer as their ringleader.
So that brings me to introduce five of my favorite people, Thomas (Hmong educator), Huy (Vietnamese educator), Monemany (Lao educator), Rom (Cambodian educator) and their organizer, Ellie (none of the above). We’ve been through a bit of thick and thin together, sometime soon I should write a little more about the lessons we’ve learned from each other. But for now, let me get back to this story.
Like so many of our networks, the Minnesota tobacco disparity networks have recently been faced with expanding their focus to include exercise and nutrition work as well. And just like so many of us, they’re not experts in this area at all! Well, I’ve been really impressed by some of the new nutrition education tools being developed by the group, so let me give you a few sneak peeks at what they’ve got in the pipeline.
Great job STEEP folks! Those are some great ideas, I look forward to hearing how they work out.