October is Diversity Awareness Month, and the first Friday of the month (October 7th) is National Diversity Day. Both the day and month have become an important celebration for the many local governments who are in the midst of a major shift towards more diverse populations. Longview, Tex. is one such city that has sponsored a month’s worth of events promoting diversity. Their calendar includes everything from educational talks to music and food festivals. Plymouth, Mass. will be celebrating the month through programs hosted at the local library. Encouraging diversity and inclusion through libraries and books is a popular approach. In past years, Fort Collins, Colo. established a Multicultural Book Series to prompt discussions on local diversity through great books that help give people new perspectives.
Many municipalities have been working to increase awareness of diversity in their communities during the other eleven months of the year as well. Some, for example, have taken this idea to heart by developing a number of inclusion programs. Last year Colorado Springs, Colo., Las Cruces, N.M., Gainesville, Fla., and Fort Worth, Tex. were all recognized by the National League of Cities for their effective cultural diversity programs. Durham, N.C., has also been recognized for its successful immigration program. Such programs have been an effective resource for communities to make themselves more inclusive while also supporting local businesses and developing the local economy. Redwood City, Calif. developed Downtown WOW! program primarily to help promote main street businesses, but many of its events center on the cultural diversity of the city.
Other cities are helping newer residents overcome language barriers by making local websites and resources available in other languages. Orange County, Fla. has launched its very successful local web-site in Spanish in addition the English homepage. Similarly, Greensboro, N.C. has started a program called, Abriendo Puertas de Oportunidad/Opening Doors of Opportunity. This forum will make information about local resources more readily available to the growing Spanish-speaking community in the city.
For more information about local governments’ diversity programs, visit the Knowledge Network Community Diversity topic page. Some of its resources include:
- "We're all on the Same Team" Cultural Diversity Program- This document is an overview Phoenix’s diversity program.
- Culture Connects All: Rethinking Audiences in Times of Demographic Change- This report by the Partners for Livable Communities describes events that are inclusive and accessible to everyone in your community.
- Communication & Service in Sugar Land: Multi-Cultural Outreach & Education Program-The City of Sugar Land, Tex. has recently created their own multi-cultural inclusion program.
- Community Dialogue Guide: Conducting a Discussion on Race- This sample document provides a guide for effectively starting a community dialogue on race issues.