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“America’s future depends on how well we learn to manage our diversity.” --Gregory Rodriguez, Executive Director, Arizona State University Center for Social Cohesion From column published in Dominion Post , March 31, 2012. Why does Morgantown need an Inclusive City Commission?

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“America’s future depends on how well we learn to manage our diversity.”

--Gregory Rodriguez, Executive Director, Arizona State University Center for Social Cohesion

From column published in Dominion Post, March 31, 2012


Why does Morgantown need an Inclusive City Commission?

It can be difficult for members of the majority to recognize the concerns of those who are not like them.

An Inclusive City Commission would enhance the work of local organizations which address inclusive community needs so that all feel welcome here.


An example of four steps toward an inclusive community – from Maggie Potapchuk’s Steps Toward An Inclusive Community:

  • How does a community address racial concerns in policy discussions, on issues, such as, neighborhood safety?
  • Issues not discussed – invisibility: “Individuals and organizations that raise the issues of race may be perceived as oversensitive or trying to create havoc.”

Issue is an afterthought – Awareness:

  • “The response is similar to the Invisibility state. In policy discussions, the issue is typically placed in the context of blaming the community of color, or short-term solutions are identified without the necessary further investigation of systemic issues.”
  • Sometimes there is a diversity of opinion – Disequilibrium:
  • Impact on communities of color begins to be raised “when policy issues are discussed.” As a result, “there may be strong feelings toward the people who raise the issue…”

Finally, we come to…

D. Commitment to Restructuring:

“People form alliances based on their priorities and commitment to inclusion.

“Questions posed about race are becoming integrated into policy discussions.

“There is a commitment to gain public acceptance of inclusion by educating people about racial impact.”


How Might An Inclusive City Commission Operate?

  • Seven members, no less than four of whom are residents of the City selected by the City Manager with the concurrence of City Council, work to keep connected and informed on issues, events, public education, and initiatives related to building/sustaining an inclusive city.
  • Advise, consult with, and inform the City Manager/City Council on any matter pertaining to inclusivity in the City.
  • Year 1: Survey Morgantown community to identify areas of unmet need; identify best practices for addressing such needs; and evaluate best available resources.

Year 2: Develop a plan to address areas of priority concerns, drawing on best practices from other communities as well as local input and resources.

  • Identify and develop 2-3 priority projects that would fill a gap, such as, a language bank to help Morgantown residents who do not speak English but who need City services.
  • Use media in coordination with the City’s staff to promote awareness of issues, education and resources.
  • Prepare recommendations and annual reports to the City Manager and City Council.
  • Continually re-assess needs, priorities, projects.

What Might an Inclusive City Commission Cost?

  • All would be dependent on available resources:
  • Some staff time, perhaps from the Deputy City Manager, who had staffed this initiative in the past.
  • TV broadcasts of meetings if funds are available.
  • Intern stipends with City funds or external sources.
  • Collaboration on research projects and grants with non-City units including WVU departments.
some potential resource organizations
Some Potential Resource Organizations
  • West Virginia Human Rights Commission
  • West Virginia Municipal League
  • National League of Cities
  • National Civic League
  • National Urban League
  • International City/County Management Association
  • Appropriate WVU Offices and Departments
  • Arizona State University Center for Social Cohesion
  • University of Kansas Community Tool Box
  • Southern Poverty Law Center
  • National Organization on Disability
  • Not in Our Town
  • Project for Public Spaces

Organizations Endorsing the Inclusive City Commission To Date

    • Morgantown-Kingwood Branch of the NAACP
    • West Virginia Council of International Programs
    • WVU Student Government Association
    • Greenmont Neighborhood Association
    • South Hills Neighborhood Association
    • South Park Association of Neighbors
    • Suncrest Neighborhood Association
    • Woodburn Neighborhood Association
    • Community Coalition for Social Justice
    • Fairness West Virginia
    • Monongalia Friends Meeting
    • Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Morgantown
    • Northern WV Council for Independent Living
other organizations inviting receiving presentations to date
Other Organizations Inviting/Receiving Presentations To Date
  • Members of Diversity, Inc.
  • Neighborhood Coordinating Council
  • Jerome Park Neighborhood Association
  • League of Women Voters
  • Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Celebration at Met Theatre
a vision for diversity
A Vision for Diversity

“We must now develop a vision that we can all share and participate in. This vision must be inclusion. … This vision must be based fundamentally on valuing diversity and treating each other with dignity and respect. But most importantly, this vision must be based on the belief that diversity is strength.”

-- Jack McGrary, former City Manager, San Diego, CA

Cross et al., The Promise of Diversity, p. 214.