On May 9, 2013, more than 350 people gathered at the Brooklyn Park City Hall to address the challenge of how best to increase the civic participation of African immigrants and other underrepresented groups in the Northwest suburbs of Hennepin County. Participants agreed that action is needed to help close racial disparities and overcome structural and cultural barriers to opportunities and systemic change in the Northwest suburbs.
Below are major action steps they offered to help produce the desired equity outcomes:
- Explore new possibilities for increased civic engagement
- Identify, inspire, and sustain new cohort of leaders to help solve shared challenges
- Create space and opportunity for people to connect, tell their stories, and build power
- Design culturally-competent capacity building and leadership training strategies
- Inspire cross-cultural and cross-sector collaborations and initiatives
- Work to eliminate resource, information, digital, and access gaps
- Help increase access to business and economic opportunities
- Engage public institutions to foster a culture of equity, inclusiveness, and diversity
Inspired by a 2012 focus group survey, the May 9 gathering was an AIS collaboration with the City of Brooklyn Park’s Diversity Team, the Diversity and Equity Department of North Hennepin Community College, Meadowlark Institute, and the NW Civic Engagement Coalition. The event was supported by a modest 2012 Bush Foundation grant.