The Livermore City Council is working to integrate equity and inclusion into the fabric of the community through its newly formed subcommittee and subsequent working group.
Co-chaired by Mayor-elect Bob Woerner and Councilwoman Trish Munro, the Equity and Inclusion Subcommittee was created in July following civil unrest locally and nationwide after the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police on Memorial Day.
The subcommittee's objective is to "enable equity and inclusion in Livermore through diverse community engagement that will result in a welcoming city, exemplified by equity of opportunity and just treatment for all," according to the city's website.
Since the subcommittee's inception, it has expanded to include a working group made up of people who live and work in Livermore. "Bob and I are really excited about this because this is a place where local government can make a huge difference," Munro told the Weekly.
Initially, the city planned to select a total of 18 people to form the working group through an application and interview process. However, after receiving 48 applicants, the subcommittee recommended to the council that the group not be limited to a particular size so that everyone who applied could participate.
The council unanimously voted to revise the size of the working group during a regular council meeting on Sept. 14 and the first full working group meeting was held the following night.
Since then, the working group has been divided into four subgroups with specific focus areas, including Subgroup A: Community Culture and Representations, Subgroup B: Policing and Human Services, Subgroup C: Reaching and Inspiring Youth and Subgroup D: Housing, Workplace, Economic and Transportation Environments.
"By having four subgroups working concurrently, we can focus on Livermore's particular context in multiple ways," Munro said. "Each subgroup is developing different projects, from interviewing residents, to digging into (Livermore Police Department) data, to understanding housing issues."
However, she added that the pandemic has slowed the groups' progress. "Ensuring four groups can engage with each other during COVID is difficult and can feel like slogging through mud rather than hiking a dry path. Nevertheless, I'm excited to see the planned projects happen and catalyze further change."
Some of the specific project ideas the subgroups have discussed include creating affinity group dialogues geared toward youth and their parents, hosting a workshop focused on affordable housing in Livermore and conducting a communitywide assessment and action project that involves taking inventory of artwork, artifacts and other symbols throughout the city that represent and signify systemic racism as well as the symbols that signify equity and inclusion.
Each subgroup has had between two and three meetings so far with an average of about 10 to 12 members in attendance; however, some members participate in more than one subgroup.
While each subgroup's projects are still in their early developing stages, working group members have already been involved in some decision-making as they were invited to participate in an interview panel during the city's recruitment process for a new police chief before Jeramy Young was promoted to the role.
The subgroups are also currently working on crafting their individual missions, values and goals as well as compiling resources and FAQs to make available to the public, according to city staff.
Helping the city facilitate and guide the subgroup meetings are Public Dialogue Consortium (PDC) president Shawn Spano and San Jose State University professor Robert Rucker. The subcommittee held an interview process with three consultant teams specializing in the area of equity and inclusion and community dialogue before choosing PDC.
"PDC, partnering with professor Robert Rucker, brings a wealth of facilitation experience especially assisting local governments with community engagement efforts," city officials told the Weekly in an email, adding that the organization recently assisted the city of Fremont with a similar initiative.
As the work of each subgroup is already underway, the subcommittee is not accepting working group applications at this time, but officials said there will likely be an additional opportunity for participation in the future as well as other opportunities for the broader community to engage with the subcommittee and working group.
More information about the subcommittee and each subgroup can be found here.