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21st Century Partnership - Community Strategic Plan for Diversity (Under Re-construction)

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Back in May 1999 Olmsted County led the formation of a 21st Century Partnership to research and propose what it would take for Olmsted County to be a leader in the 21st Century. This document attempts to bring back some of that information for re-use.

1. Forward

Back in May 1999 Olmsted County led the formation of a 21st Century Partnership to research and propose what it would take for Olmsted County to be a leader in the 21st Century. This document attempts to brings back that information for re-use.

 

The 21st Century Partnership Strategic Plan for Diversity was developed as a direct result of a county-wide long-range planning project designed to help prepare Olmsted County for the 21st century.  The project was initiated in September 1996 with the enthusiastic support of local government, area businesses and many other community organizations. The process involved a broad cross section of over 800 county residents, and resulted in the identification of seven key issues that must be addressed to ensure the continued economic and social success of the region. The seven key issues include:

  • Crime
  • Neighborhoods
  • Diversity
  • Rural and Small City Vitality
  • Education and Workforce Readiness
  • Jobs and the Economy, and
  • Youth, Families and the Elderly.

Task forces researched each of these issues and reported their findings and recommendations to the community in May 1999.

 

The Strategic Plan for Diversity implements one of the recommendations made by the Diversity Task Force and outlines specific goals and strategies designed to create a welcoming environment in Olmsted County. As community members we are all responsible for on-going implementation of this Plan, and the Rochester-Olmsted Planning Department will assist by coordinating the data to measure our progress. Success will require a continuing commitment to the social and economic value of diversity, and a steadfast determination to build and nurture a community that welcomes all people.

2. Focus Areas

2.1. Community Education

The increasing diversity of our community has brought a number of people into contact with unfamiliar cultural practices. This is true both of long-term residents of the majority community, as well as of immigrants from other countries adjusting to the culture of Minnesota. The magnitude of this issue is indicated by the fact that there are students from 58 different countries attending Rochester schools, having as their native tongues almost as many languages and countries of origin in Olmsted County schools as occur in all the school systems in California. 

Rochester and Olmsted County benefit from the skills, cultures, and life experiences that newcomers bring to our community. We need to ensure that our neighborhoods, schools, service establishments, and work places present a welcoming environment to newcomers in order to realize these benefits. 

The Strategic Plan identifies the following six focus areas for community -oriented diversity education efforts:

  1. Community leaders
  2. Criminal justice system
  3. Landlords and real estate professionals
  4. Neighborhoods
  5. Retail trade and service establishments
  6. Work places

 

1. Community Leaders

If diversity issues in this community are to be resolved positively, it can only be through the full engagement and active involvement of the community's opinion leaders. These include not only elected officials at the local and state level, but also business and religious leaders, print and broadcast media managers, and the board chairs and directors of the non-profit sector. The 21st Century Partnership Diversity Task Force recognized this fact when it called for putting diversity "on the community's agenda." Involving community leaders in diversity requires their participation in becoming educated about diversity issues. The following addresses this need. 

ProgramProvide opportunities for elected officials and other community leaders to learn about diversity issues and successful programs.
Customers City, County, and School District elected officials; leaders of religious organizations; owners and CEO's of private businesses; and leaders of non-profit organizations
Responsible Parties Community entities such as local government, businesses that are leaders in terms of employing minorities and promoting diversity awareness in the work place; other area diversity resources
Measures of Effectiveness Increased awareness of "best practices" and the extent to which the area's work force in becoming diverse
Specific Strategy Area employers should arrange visits by elected officials of area governing bodies by December, 2001.

 2. Criminal Justice Systems

The 21st Century Partnership Diversity Task Force Report recommends mandatory annual diversity training for law enforcement officers and other criminal justice system personnel. The purpose of such training would be to sensitize law enforcement and other elements of the criminal justice system to cultural differences.  It is critical that the criminal justice system treat all residents of our communities evenhandedly, and that newcomers to the community come to recognize that law enforcement staff in particular and the criminal justice system in general can be relied on to help newcomers who are victimized. 

In addition, with initiatives such as Crime-Free Multi-Housing and the progress in problem-oriented and community-oriented policing, the Police Department is increasingly a source of information for the majority community on diversity issues. It is important that this information be current and accurate. 

ProgramProvide annual education programming on cultural differences and other aspects of diversity
Customers Area law enforcement and criminal justice system personnel, including public and private attorneys, area judges and court system personnel, probation officers and corrections officers.
Responsible Parties Area units of local government; the Community Justice Forum; area Bar Association; area Diversity Resources and the Rochester Area Chamber of Commerce
Measures of Effectiveness Substantiated complains of unfair treatment; analysis of outcome of similar incidents by  majority/minority status; community surveys assessing how the criminal justice system is perceived.

3. Landlords and Real Estate Professionals

ProgramDevelop and deliver customized diversity education for all individuals involved in the residential location decisions on the part of the minority and majority communities. The training should address cultural differences, community concerns about segregation, and legal issues.
Customers Area real estate professional and staff; area lenders; area apartment and manufactured home park owners and managers.
Responsible Parties Area of organizations of real estate professionals, lenders and rental property owners and managers; area Diversity Resources
Measures of Effectiveness

The "dissimilarity index"; surveys of home purchasers and tenants; audit teams to assess differences in customer treatment by majority/minority status

Records of complaints received by the Human Rights Commission related to landlord tenant issues, suspected block-busting, redlining, and racial or other steering.

4. Neighborhoods

Develop and distribute an educational program addressing neighborhood concerns related to diversity, especially related to lower cost housing and racial diversity.
Customers Area neighborhood and block watch groups, whether officially organized or not.
Responsible Parties Neighborhood Resource Center and other coordinating groups; area Diversity Resources
Measurements of Effectiveness Awareness of diversity issues and attitudes as measured by community surveys.

5. Retail Trade and Service Establishments

ProgramPeople opportunities for diversity and cultural awareness education training to retail trade and service establishment employees and managers
Customers Retail and service businesses too small to support in-house diversity programs; especially security personnel in businesses, retail and service establishments.
Responsible Parties Retail business employers and shopping center owners, the Rochester Area Chamber of Commerce, and area Diversity Resources
Measures of Effectiveness Number and seriousness of complaints related to treatment of customers at retail trade and service establishments referred to the Olmsted County Human Rights Commission.

6. Work Places

ProgramProvide opportunities for diversity and cultural awareness education training to employees and managers
Customers Business too small to support in-house diversity programs
Responsible Parties The Rochester Area Chamber of Commerce in cooperation with the Diversity Council and other Diversity Resources
Measures of Effectiveness

Number and seriousness of employment related complaints to the Olmsted County Human Rights Commission.

Job satisfaction and retention as measured by surveys.

2.2. Allfordable Housing and Diversity

All Olmsted County jurisdictions, and in particular the City of Rochester, are suffering from a critical shortage of affordable housing. Rental vacancy rates for market rate units were estimated at around 1-2 % in the 1998 Housing Study prepared for the Olmsted County Housing and Redevelopment Authority.Preliminary data from the 2000 Census indicates an overall rental vacancy rate of 4% (which may include units under construction or already called for and therefore not truly on the market). By comparisons, the national average rental vacancy rate from 200 Census data is 6.8%.

     Many area employers need entry level and other lower paid employees to fill the jobs that they are creating.  ......

     Opposition to affordable housing in areas in adjacent to established neighborhoods threatens to exclude affordable housing from newly developing areas. Such exclusion results in a shortage of affordable housing and a community that is segregated by income class. Segregation by income class can lead to de facto segregation by race in our community. Continuing to curtail the supply of land for affordable housing in fringe locations jeopardizes the supply of affordable housing and will result in concentrating affordable housing in a few heavily impacted neighborhoods.

Recommendations

1. Units of local government:

  • support low income tax credit housing and other subsided housing.
  • accommodate private development proposal that include townhouses, apartments, and manufactured housing as part of neighborhood development areas.
  • enforce minimum standards for housing and enforce such ordinances as the Disorderly Use Ordinance in order to address neighborhood concerns about crime and potential impacts on property values.
  • increase the supply of land zoned for lower cost housing, especially providing for mixtures of housing by style and cost.
  • provide for neighborhoods with housing that is integrated by income class as well as by race.

 2. Area Developers:

  • accommodate affordable housing up front as part of well-planned communities.
  • provide for affordable housing as an integrated part of neighborhood development plans
  • address concerns related to traffic and property values. 

3. Real Estate Marketers and Landlords:

  • provide accurate information to new or relocating residents about all neighborhoods, without making assumptions about the preferences those residents may have based on their race or income; avoid steering
  • treat all housing customers equally
  • characterize all neighborhood accurately

4. Neighborhoods and Community Members

  • We need to remind ourselves
    • lower income households are not equivalent to lower quality families
    • that the "goodness" of a neighborhood is not measured by the price of its structures but by the character of its residents
    • that the quality of a community is not measured by the degree to which it is exclusive
  • We need to focus neighborhood concerns about housing on legitimate issues that can be remedied (accommodating traffic without disrupting neighborhoods, ensuring good management of rental housing, and so on). 
  • We need to create  a welcoming environment in all neighborhoods for persons of diver ethnic and economic backgrounds.

Measures of Effectiveness

  • For affordable housing, vacancy rates by price range for owner and renter occupied housing. 
  • For the enforcement of minimum standards of housing and crime-free neighborhoods, crime, police calls, and housing violation data.
  • For segregation, the "dissimilarity index,' which represents the percentage of a minority population that would need to move to a different neighborhood in order to result in an even distribution of the population across the community.  Race segregation in the urbanized area of Olmsted County is quite low compared to other metropolitan areas in the U.S. Dissimilarity indices for persons in poverty and housing styles in 1990, and racial minorities in 1990 and 2000 have been calculated and presented in Appendix 1: Demographics. 
  • Also for segregation, the concentration of minority population, which can determined by calculating the weighted mean percentage of minority residents living in blocks with minority residents. For Olmsted County's minority population in 2000 (based on Census data), blocks with any minority residents had an average of 28% minority residents compared to a County average of 11% minority residents. This level of concentration is low compared with other metropolitan areas in the U.S. 
  • For segregating practices, records of complaints received by the Human Rights Commission related to suspected block-busting, redlining, and racial or other steering.

 

 

2.3. Environmental Justice Analysis

Local governments should prepare an "environmental justice analysis" when they propose capital expenditures that trigger and environmental impact statement that affect part of the community. State and local governments investments in infrastructure often create attractive facilities that may increase property values in adjacent areas, such as bridges and roads, bike-ways and bus systems, parks and schools. Other investments (some highways, sewage treatment facilities, landfills, and so on) may distract from adjacent neighborhoods.

     The federal government requires that infrastructure investments using federal funds be evaluated in terms of their impacts (favorable and unfavorable) on neighborhoods.

     Such an evaluation should be required for all infrastructure investment that trigger environmental impact statements, whether they involve federal funds or not.

 

ProgramDevelop a model environment justice analysis procedure and use it to evaluate local government infrastructure investment impacts, ensuring that neighborhoods are treated equitably.
Customers Area units of local government (school boards, city councils, township boards, and the Olmsted County Board).
Responsible Parties Rochester Olmsted Planning Department and the Rochester Olmsted Council of Governments, with participation by community resources and environmental advisory board.
Measures of Effectiveness Infrastructure investment show balance impacts across the community.

2.4. Programs Oriented to Minorities

2.4.1. Minority Employment

In a time of labor shortages, it is in the interest of both employers and words to facilitate the full employment of all residents who wish to work.

ProgramDevelop and distribute a set of "best practices" related to minority recruitment, training, and retention specific to occupation and industry.
Customers
Responsible Parties All area employers (public, private, non-profit).
Measures of Effectiveness Awareness of "best practices" among area employers; ultimately, labor participation and retention rates and wage rates for minorities identified by race, ethnicity, ability/disability and native language
Specific Strategies

Develop workplace mentoring programs for minority employees

Provide training in English for Speakers of Other Languages, with in the workplace or at other locations

Through Rochester Community Education and other public and private organizations such as the Private Industry Council (Workforce Center), provide assistance to under-employed persons to achieve employment consistent with education and experience.

Assist in the formation of job networking groups among minority populations

Make greater use of minority-based employment agencies

2.4.2. Residential Envrionment

Newcomers to area neighborhoods, especially those coming from other countries, sometimes need help becoming familiar with the expectations associated with occupying a residence. Just as majority community neighborhoods need education in cultural differences and other diversity issues, so do newcomers to those neighborhoods need education about the majority culture. As a community, we need to respect the board range of cultural traditions that our residents represent. We also need to be aware of the differences among us and to be clear on the rules that regulate our behavior.

ProgramFamiliarize minority newcomers with the laws and cultural expectations related to owning or renting residences in Olmsted County, especially landlord-tenant responsibilities, lease requirements, home maintenance expectations, and expectations related to the neighborhood.
Customers Minority newcomers to the community.
Responsible Parties Inter-cultural Mutual Assistance Association; Olmsted County Housing and Redevelopment Authority; Community Housing Partnership; and area Diversity Resources.
Measures of Effectiveness Measures of Effectiveness Complaints related to misunderstood expectations received by Human Rights Commission or others; neighborhood and minority resident surveys.

2.4.3. Civic Engagement

The 21st Century Partnership Task Force on Diversity called for improving the internal diversity performance of community institutions and ensuring that institutions in the community include diversity as a priority in their own planning and programming. The network of relationships that knit the majority community together should be made accessible to the minority communities in the community as well. Strategies to extend opportunities for greater civic involvement to minorities could include:

  • involvement in neighborhood groups,
  • appointment to citizen committees serving local government
  • recruitment by service clubs
  • involvement in non-profit board
  • involvement in interest groups such as the League of Women Voters, and
  • involvement in committees advising business organizations, such as the Chamber of Commerce

2.4.4. Adult Literacy Program

English language training is critical for the job success and community participation of non-native English speakers. As a community, we need to continue to support programs such as those offered in adult literacy though the Rochester Public Schools. In addition to adult basic education for native speakers of English, G.E.D. preparation, and diploma opportunities for adults, a variety of English language training classes are available. 

     The English program provides seven sequential levels of instruction in the English language and U.S. Culture. The classes are open to all non-native speakers of English in the Rochester area. In addition, the following programs are also available: 

  • Assistance for foreign-born residents preparing for the U.S. Citizenship Exam, 
  • Refugee tutoring assistance
  • Work skills program
  • Parenting classes and preschool education for speakers of other languages. 

Classes are offered in several locations, including the Rochester Community and Technical College Heintz Center, Ability Building Center, Corrections Department and on-site employer customized educational assistance through the Work Skills Project. 

2.4.5. Health Care

Olmsted County is a diverse community made up of many cultural groups bound together by common life experiences, traditions, behaviors, and values.  Health care institutions should provide education programs for all staff members regarding cultural and cross-cultural health care traditions to ensure effective outreach and provide equal access to services. Education programs for health care employees should include background regarding the differences in customs, traditions, language and history as well as the positive health care practices that exist within cultures.

     Many refugees who come to this region in search of safety and a new life have experienced overwhelming suffering and loss as a result of war, torture and the hardship of life in refugee camps. Differences in language, income, education and access to appropriate health care may also compromise the physical and mental health of residents. It is important for health care providers to support community education and outreach programs beyond the mainstream or majority culture to meet the needs of all residents, including those in the immigrant and newcomer population.

The following goals and objectives will ensure that the health care needs of all residents are met: :

  • Ensure that the employees of health care institutions have the opportunity to learn the health care traditions of the community members they serve
  • Improve access to health care by providing education and outreach to all cultural and cross-cultural communities with Olmsted County.
  • Ensure appropriate and timely interpreter staff in health care systems for English language learners and non-native speakers.

2.4.6. Youth Participation

Some of the youth in our community cannot afford to participate in youth sports and other community activities. While scholarship programs are available through some youth organizations, many still have fewer lower income participants than would be expected based on community population characteristics. It is not enough merely to passively accommodate minority and low income youth participation. To increase the level of participation on the part of lower income youth and the minorities:

  • Youth oriented organizations should make a deliberate, proactive effort to involve lower income and minority youth in their programs. Such efforts should include waiving fess, assisting with the purchase of equipment, providing assistance with transportation when necessary, and active recruitment efforts. 
  • Youth oriented organizations should also make an effort to attract minority adult leaders to their boards and youth contact positions
  • Public entities should establish as a condition for the use of public facilities (meeting rooms, sports fields, and gymnasiums) that the organization using the facility has established efforts to increase participation among low income and minority youth.

2.5. Schools

All of the public school systems in the Rochester Olmsted community should have completed state required diversity plans and placed them on file with the Minnesota Department of Children Families and Learning. School districts should also provide staff development programming and resources to ensure that teachers and other staff members understand the value of integrating diversity education strategies into all aspects of K-12 curriculum. As a suggestion for private school systems or for public school systems considering revisions, the 21st Century Partnership, in consultation with Diversity Council Education Committee and Rochester Public Schools offer the following curriculum suggestions intended to: (1) Create a safe and welcoming learning environment for all students, and (2) Support an environment that nurtures diversity and strives to eliminate name-calling, racism, gender bias and other forms of discrimination.

2.5.1. Introduction

All of the public school systems in the Rochester Olmsted community should have completed state required diversity plans and placed them on file with the Minnesota Department of Children Families and Learning.

School districts should also provide staff development programming and resources to ensure that teachers and other staff members understand the value of integrating diversity education strategies into all aspects of K-12 curriculum.

As a suggestion for private school systems or for public school systems considering revisions, the 21st Century Partnership, in consultation with Diversity Council Education Committee and Rochester Public Schools offer the following curriculum suggestions intended to:

(1) Create a safe and welcoming learning environment for all students, and

(2) Support an environment that nurtures diversity and strives to eliminate name-calling, racism, gender bias and other forms of discrimination.

2.5.2. Elementary School

Actions/StrategiesTimelinePersons ResponsibleResources Needed
Read books and stories depicting various cultures, men and women in a variety of roles, and people with mental and physical challenges in a variety of roles.  On-going K-5 Staff and volunteers School District & Community resources
Provide multiple experience creating an understanding of inter-generational experiences, and sharing of family traditions. For example, each student could present an interview held with a grandparent or older family friend. Once per year K-5 Staff and volunteers
Provide multiple experiences comparing and contrasting the culture and traditions of people of different countries around the worlds. For example, each student could complete an assessment showing understanding of the differences and similarities. 
Establish family mentorship program by matching ESOL families with native speaking families.
Include diverse food choices on school lunch menu.
Set aside an area in each school library for a monthly display of diversity materials. 

2.5.3. Middle School

 TimelinePersons ResponsibleResources Needed
Assign books with authors, settings, themes and characters representing diverse cultures and ethnic groups. On-going Language Arts Department School District & community resources
Social Studies department should provide experiences at all grade levels on cultural diversity, including cultural diversity in our communities. Winter Trimester Social Studies and language arts staff School district & community resources
Provide story problems that include diversity themes. On-going Math department School district & community resources
Provide opportunities for native speaking students to meet and get to know ESOL students better to eliminate name-calling and other forms of harassment September Staff
Demonstrate what it would be like to be in a situation where one does not know the language. Afterwards, process how the students fell about the experience. Once a year Staff
Introduce diverse performing groups and explore a variety of music from various cultures and religions. On-going Music Department School district, PTSA & community resources
Encourage frequent discussions regarding racial issues and discrimination of all kinds. On-going Staff School district & community resources
Provide lessons on social skills and self-awareness. On-going Staff
Enforce zero tolerance of discrimination incidents in school. On-going Staff Appropriate consequences for both positive and negative behavior

2.5.4. High School

ProgramTimelineResponsibleResources Needed
Enhance library/media collection to incorporate diverse literature and non-print media On-going Staff Resources to purchase new materials
Increase availability of conflict managers. On-going Conflict Manager Coordinator and Administration Time for coordinator to organize and facilitate conflict mediation and to train additional staff and students.
Continue to use bulletin boards to display multicultural ideas and themes. On-going Diversity Committees School district & community resources
Increase involvement of minority parents through Minority Student Advocate On-going School administration and Minority Advocate Salaries and benefits for minority student advocate position and activities
Increase minority student participation in school related activities and athletics through assistance with fees and equipment and through active recruitment. On-going Staff and students Funds for fees and equipment; time for recruitment
Develop and understanding of diversity among students, based on respect, success, school pride, spirit, and traditions On-going Staff, students, and alumni Money for fees supplies and materials.

2.6. Addressing Discrimination

"The responsibility for change is proportional to the power the individuals and groups hold in society.  It is therefore the responsibility of the majority population to provide vision, leadership, and strategies to stop discrimination... A community that works well must promote a "zero tolerance" approach to discriminatory behavior."

-- 21st Century Partnership Diversity Taskforce Report

All of the other programs and policies in this Community Strategic Plan for Diversity address the need for education in one form or another. Education will promote awareness and appreciation of cultural differences and help to create a welcoming environment for diversity. One of the goals of diversity education is to eliminate discrimination. However patterns of discrimination will persist and must be confronted.

This community will have a policy of "zero tolerance" for discrimination.

The following programs are proposed to make such a policy effective:

ProgramAssist in identifying and resolving discrimination concerns and in preventing discrimination
Customers Victims of discrimination; majority and minority communities.
Responsible Parties Olmsted County Human Rights Commission; Other area Diversity Resources
Measures of Effectiveness Numbers of complaints resolved; satisfaction of participants; numbers of complaints received
Specific Strategies Provide counseling to minority residents to resolve potential misunderstandings and identify discrimination problems. Area Diversity Resources
Continue to provide mediation resources for discrimination concerns Olmsted County Human Rights Commission
Provide education to employers and others on the laws pertaining to discrimination Olmsted County Human Rights Commission
Create a fund to support legal action as merited to address discrimination concerns not amenable to resolution through mediation Area charitable foundations, community diversity resources, local Bar Association

3. Monitoring Progress

Recommendation

Develop a valid instrument to measure community attitudes and percepts regarding diversity

Track changes annually in the community's response to diversity

Suggested Measures:

  • Crime - hate crimes, victim/criminal demographics
  • Education and workforce readiness - high school graduation rate, employer feedback
  • Jobs and the economy -- employment, eg. recruitment and retention rates, demographics especially in government hiring
  • Neighborhoods - Human Rights complaints, voting records
  • Youth, family and the elderly -- school data (ie. graduation rates, demographic characteristics of exceptional students drop out rates, participation rates of low income and minority youth in extracurricular activities), family services data (elderly, runaways, suicides, etc)
  • Rural and small city vitality -- economic indicators, characteristics of in-migrant population
  • Availability of affordable/workforce housing
  • Civic and other community group demographics. Diversity and equity in government hiring.

The Steering Committee agrees with this recommendation and recommends that the community commit the necessary resources to the Rochester Olmsted Planning Department for implementing it.

 

4. Appendix

4.1. Appendix 1. Demographics

The Olmsted County community is going through a period of significant growth and change. Our strong local economy has brought high rates of job growth and very low unemployment. As local labor resources are tapped to their full extent, area businesses are increasingly relying on in-immigrants to the community to fill their business expansion needs. As a result, our community is becoming home to an increasingly diverse population.

This new found diversity is reflected in our schools as well as our workplaces. From fall of 1980 to 1999, minority enrollment in school systems based in Olmsted County has increased by 160%, ranging from a 54% increase in the Asian/Pacific Islander student population to an 819% increase in Black (African American and Sub-Saharan African) student population.

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4.2. Appendix 2: Report of the 21st Century Partnership Task Force On Diversity

The following is the report of the 21st Century Partnership Task Force on Diversity, as modified following its adoption by the Steering Committee and its implementing agencies.

4.2.1. Opening Statement

In Phase 1 of the 21st Century Partnership process, a broad cross-section of Olmsted County residents identified diversity as a "make or break" issue on which the social and economic health of this region depends. This report details the findings, objectives, and goals that the Task Force on Diversity has determined are critical first steps on our journey to a community-wide commitment promoting unity and respect for all people.  Members of the Task Force agree, that by not addressing these changes and issues, we put our collective future at risk.

     Olmsted County has maintained a leadership role in health care, technology, education and business. We believe that our community must add diversity to our list of positive accomplishments. By doing so, we will step forward as leaders for the nation in the 21st century, pledging to oppose discrimination in any form.  The Olmsted County will blend talent, culture, abilities and race to create a music in which all people are respected and welcome.

     The responsibility for change is proportional to the power the individuals and groups hold in society.  It is therefore, the responsibility of the majority population to provide vision, leadership and strategies to stop discrimination.

      It is against this background that the 21st Century Partnership Steering Committee identifies the following issues as the focus areas for the Diversity Task Force:

  • eliminate racism
  • create a welcoming environment for all cultures and abilities
  • promote the positive values of diversity

 

Eliminating Racism

Racism exists in Olmsted County and the community has found this issue difficult to confront. There is a definite need for a more coordinated, community wide emphasis and increase focus on diversity by elected bodies and business groups. There have been many diversity initiatives in the community; the activity has been directed at the cultural aspects, pointed short-term education, and board awareness programs such as the "Not in Our Town" project. These have all been positive efforts, however, the Olmsted community has not yet reached the core or root of the problem.

     While the goal to "eliminate racism" is unrealistic in the near term, a community that works well must promote a "zero tolerance" approach to discriminatory behavior

Creating a Welcoming Environment for all Cultures and Abilities

The current environment is not accepting of diversity in race, abilities, lifestyles or sexual orientation. We have made some progress over the years. More must be done to create an open and welcoming community if we are going to minimize future problems and maximize the strengths of our diverse population. A major step in this direction would be to extend the Human Rights Ordinance to the balance of the county and to amend it to address sexual orientation, age and disability.  The current lack of a county-wise structure with the authority in grievance resolution is a significant inhibitor to progress.

Promoting the Positive Values of Diversity

Of the three areas of the Diversity Task Force reviewed, promoting the positive aspects of diversity has received the most attention in the community. There are programs events and educational sessions that emphasize other cultures and beliefs. It is clear that the community is not leveraging the value that a diverse population brings to its culture, government, education, businesses and citizens. It is imperative that we look forward to our future, recognizing that the economic educational and social success the county are at stake. 

4.2.2. Vision

The Diversity Task Force has identified the following vision statement for the Olmsted community related to diversity:

Our community will provide a safe, non-discriminating environment with respect and opportunity for all.

This statement embodies the concept that diversity involves the entire community and has elements that include race, color, creed, religion, national origin, sex, marital status, disability, status with regard to public assistance, sexual orientation and age.

To achieve this vision, we have defined three objectives that must be met:

  1. Focus the community's attention on diversity
  2. Eliminate the suspicion and fear resulting from negative stereotypes and promote positive inter-racial awareness.
  3. Provide increase opportunities for everyone and enable all people to fully participate in the social, educational, economic and civic life of the community.

4.2.3. Key Findings

A long-range strategic plan is needed in Olmsted County to provide a more focused approach to the increasing diversity of the region.

Diversity is an integral component of all 21st Century Partnership task forces. The recommendations outlined by the task forces on Crime, Education and Workforce Readiness, Jobs and the Economy, Neighborhoods, Rural and Small City Vitality and Youth, Families and the Elderly provide additional framework to support our vision.

The population of Olmsted County is becoming increasing more diverse. There is a need for more analytical data to measure the impact of this diversity.

Governing bodies, civic organizations and community programs do not represent the diversity of the community.

Negative stereotyping of our changed community has and will continue to adversely affect our local businesses and community economics.

A common perception in the majority community maintains that minority groups have created an unsafe, rapidly deteriorating environment in this community.

The majority population has a significant role and responsibility in address the issues of racism and discrimination.

Partnerships are needed between the majority and minority to identify and solve problems together.

It is imperative to educate our children/youth on the values of diversity: they are our future.

The former volunteer-run Rochester Human Rights Commission in the City of Rochester did not have the authority or resources to meet this community's (city and county) needs.

The Human Rights Ordinance adopted by the City of Rochester did not include all of the protected classes identified in Minnesota Statutes.

There is no systematic way to identify and reach out to new people in the community.

The media (newspaper, TV, radio, etc) has a significant impact on thne community's percept of diverse groups.

The supply of low and moderate income housing does not meet the demand the community needs to integrate low and moderate income housing throughout all neighborhoods.

 

 

 

4.2.4. Objectives and Goals

4.2.4.1. Objective 1: Diversity Attention

Focus the community's attention on diversity

1. Improve coordination of diversity efforts.

  • Recognize the county-wide Diversity Council to include major employers and other community leaders.
    • Recommended Responsible Party: Diversity Council (accomplished 2/5/99)
  • Encourage the collaboration of independent citizen's groups to promote diversity efforts.
    • Recommended Responsible Party: Existing diversity organizations, faith communities and citizen. 

2. Establish a comprehensive diversity action plan.

A.  Develop a community consensus committing the community to a series of concrete steps to eliminate racism, to create a welcoming community environment, and to promote the positive values of diversity.

Recommended Responsible Party:  21st Century Partnership Steering Committee

B. Develop a valid instrument to measure community attitudes and perceptions regarding diversity.

Recommended Responsible Party:  21st Century Partnership Steering Committee with the assistance of the Rochester Olmsted Planning Department

C. Track changes annually in the community's response to diversity.

Recommended Responsible Party:  21st Century Partnership Steering Committee with the assistance of the Rochester Olmsted Planning Department

    • Measures: Develop a diversity measure component that ties to other 21st Century Partnership key issues.
      • Crime - hate crimes, victim/criminal demographics, survey data
      • Education and Workforce Readiness - high school graduation rate, employer feedback, survey data
      • Jobs and the Economy - employment, demographics, survey data
      • Neighborhoods - Human rights complains, voting records, survey data
      • Youth, Families and the Elderly -school data (i.e. graduation rates, exceptional students demographics, etc), family services data (elderly, runawasy, sucidese, etc).
      • Rural and Small City Vitality -economic indicators and survey data.

 

D. Develop strategies to respond to survey findings

Recommended Responsible Party:  21st Century Partnership Steering Committee 

    • Measures: Surveys demonstrating improved perceptions of opportunity, safety, and openness.

 

 

 

4.2.4.2. Objective 2: Positive interracial awareness

Eliminate the suspicion and fear resulting from negative stereotypes and promote positive interracial awareness.

1. Increase the level of diversity awareness among community members.

a. Encourage the long-term commitment of media to provide accurate information, knowledge, understanding and appreciation of others.

Recommended Responsible Party: Print and broadcast media

b. Establish training programs for management and employees at all levels.

Recommended Responsible Party: Chamber of Commerce in cooperation with area employers and Diversity Council

c. Establish mutual learning partnerships and memberships among diverse individual and groups.

Recommended Responsible Party: Chamber of Commerce in cooperation with area employers

d. Develop classes to orient newcomers to the resources and customers of the community.

Recommended Responsible Party: ISD 535 Community Education in cooperation with the Inter-cultural Mutual Assistance Association and Private Industry Council

e. Continue to celebrate the variety of cultures in our community.

Recommended Responsible Party: Rochester International Association, RochesterFest, Diversity Council, and faith community

2. Enforce laws in an equitable and culturally sensitive manner.

a. Mandate annual diversity training for law enforce officers and other criminal justice system personnel.

Recommended Responsible Party: Area governing bodies

Measures: Detention, arrest, conviction and sentencing records, survey data

3. Educate parents to communicate positive images about other groups of people.

Encourage partnerships with employers, PTSA's religious institutions, neighborhood groups and social and service clubs, to support parents in teaching acceptance of others.

Recommended Responsible Party: Diversity Council, in cooperation with PTSA's, religious institutions, media, schools and neighborhood groups

4. Educate teachers and students about stereotyping

Establish regular workshops to understand the negative impact of stereotyping on student learning and to build positive images with the educational environment.

Recommended Responsible Party: Schools - daycare through adult education

 

4.2.4.3. Objective 3: Shared Opportunities

Provide increased opportunities for everyone, and enable all people in full participate in the social, educational, economic and civic life of the community.

1. Incorporate diverse populations into neighborhoods.

a. Ensure that the governmental development review process incorporates diversity standards.

Recommended Responsible Party: Zoning authorities

b. Increase the supply and distribution of affordable, decent, safe and sanitary housing for all groups in the community.

Recommended Responsible Party: Private builders and housing assistance providers

c. Encourage neighborhoods to include lower income housing into their neighborhoods

Recommended Responsible Party: Diversity Council, Neighborhood Council, and United Way

2. Facilitate the economic participation of minorities in the community.

a. Eliminate discrimination and encourage inclusive hiring polices

Recommended Responsible Party: Area employers and Human Rights Commission

Measures: Rates of unemployment, underemployment and business ownership

b. Increase the accessibility and convenience of transportation to those with limited mobility.

Recommended Responsible Party: Area employers and transportation providers

c. Increase the availability and convenience of affordable, decent, safe, sanitary and culturally appropriate child care.

Recommended Responsible Party: Child Care Resource and Referral, area employers, child care providers and Family Action Collaborative (FACES)

3. Enforce human rights in accordance with Minnesota Statutes

a. Create a county-wide Human Rights Commission

Recommended Responsible Party: County Board (accomplished 1998)

b. Adopt a county-wide Human Rights Ordinance to include all protected classes covered by Minnesota Statutes

Recommended Responsible Party: County Board (accomplished Summer 1998)

c. Provide staff to assist the County Human Rights Commission in mediating diversity conflicts

Recommended Responsible Party: County Board (accomplished 1998)

d. Monetary restitution for human rights offense awarded by Administrative Law Judge

Recommended Responsible Party: County Board

e. Empower the County Human Rights Commission to refer human rights cases to the County Attorney

Recommended Responsible Party: County Board

4. Improve the internal diversity performance of community institutions.

a. Ensure that institutions in the community include diversity as a priority in their own planning and programming.

Recommended Responsible Party: Private, non-profit and government institutions

5. Ensure equal access to services on the part of minority clients and customers.

a. Implement actions (as funding requirements) to ensure that services, activities and programs are reaching minority populations.

 

 

 

4.3. Appendix 3. What you can do: suggestions for individual action to address diversity

Guideline for Individuals

  • Find out about volunteer opportunities in your community, eg. literacy, citizenship, mentorship programs.
  • When communicating with non-native English speakers:
    • Avoid jargon, slang, and idioms
    • Slow down your speech
    • Use simple words
    • Pronounce and enunciate clearly
    • Repeat your ideas in different words
    • Check for understanding
  • If you are non-native English speaker, ask coworkers to slow down or repeat themselves -- your request will not be considered rude. Ask about expressions you don't understand.
  • Be aware of changes taking place around you and welcome that change.
  • Recognize and respect others and their individuality
  • Think before you speak, and be sensitive to others.
  • Talk about your differences and ask tactful questions about how people want to be treated.
  • Listen more
  • Recognize you own biases and prejudices.
  • Eliminate stereotypes and generalizations
  • Expose ourself to other cultures
  • Remember that your race/gender/personality style is not the center of the universe.
  • Be careful with humor.
21st Century Diversity Strategic Plan for Diversity

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