Communities promote diversity
Five communities have received awards for programs that encourage citizen involvement and promote cultural diversity. Brooklyn Park, Minn.; Dubuque, Iowa; Arlington, Va.; Irvine, Calif.; and Phoenix received the City Cultural Diversity Awards from the National Black Caucus of Local Elected Officials (NBC-LEO), a constituency group of the National League of Cities (NLC).
Brooklyn Park was recognized for its Community Engagement Initiative. The program features small group meetings billed as Community Cafes, often hosted by residents, where people discuss ideas to improve the community. Volunteers known as Community Engagement Ambassadors help spread the messages from the meetings throughout the city.
Dubuque’s Intercultural Competence Initiative features free training sessions to help residents learn “how to work together constructively across differences.” The program, which began in 2006, expanded the city’s cultural programming and created new cross-cultural community groups.
In Arlington County, the Multicultural Outreach Program includes a Spanish language website for newly arrived residents, as well as citizenship classes and Spanish interpretation at official meetings. There are also English language classes and job training workshops.
For 10 years, Irvine has staged the Irvine Global Village Festival to promote the city’s diversity. The daylong festival features activities representing more than 50 cultures, including international cuisine, arts and crafts, live entertainment, cultural and religious exhibits, and an international marketplace.
Phoenix’s Community Engagement and Outreach Task Force focuses on the Phoenix Police Department, including police officer training, communication, community policing and public outreach. The goal of the program, which began in 2010, is to help the department interact effectively across cultural lines and strengthen relationships with diverse communities in the city.