City Council Questionnaire
Do you think that Wyoming has made strides toward making our community a more welcoming place for diverse peoples? What concerns are most pressing?
Yes. We have employees that are highly engaged with our residents. Listening has continued to improve over the past several years. Our communications team is also very strong. We also incorporated language supporting diversity into our Vision statement for Wyoming. A change that enhanced our ability to attract more, and diverse, employment candidates relates to removing civil service requirements. As an example, in Public works we previously could only accept 2 of 6 applicants in a prior effort under civil service guidelines. Recently, after removing the civil service barrier, we drew 15 applicants for a recent position.
I am so thankful for WCIA! Your leadership is making a huge impact on Wyoming through events like Juneteenth, Spoken Word, and book discussions.
My most pressing concern right now is that Wyoming be a welcoming neighbor for the large number of Mauritanian refugees who have arrived in Lockland. They are fleeing discrimination, indentured servitude, and slavery. I have the privilege to serve them every week at Valley Interfaith, and my husband volunteers every Sunday afternoon teaching them English. I can’t imagine being in their shoes with few resources and no language, yet they have made this journey with courage.
Speaking from my 15 years’ experience of living in our city, I believe Wyoming is a welcoming community that embraces diversity, and continuously strives for better living conditions for its residents. That being said, there are still areas of improvement, judging by the very statistics listed in this survey – i.e., “only one third of survey respondents of all backgrounds feel that all residents are treated equally in Wyoming”, and “fewer than 35% of minorities felt their perspectives were valued in Wyoming.”
Awareness and education are always good first steps to improving diversity, equity and inclusion. I have seen many examples of efforts being made to bring people together to understand one another. We are moving in the right direction. Is it hard? Yes. Can it be faster? Yes.
I do think that Wyoming has made strides towards making Wyoming a more welcoming place for diverse peoples. I can see the efforts that have been made to be more inclusive throughout the city. For example by providing programming for the city that offers a variety of types of entertainment that would be appealing to many different demographics.
I think one area of concern is how to be welcoming for people that may not be residents of Wyoming, but visit Wyoming from neighboring communities or around Cincinnati who are from diverse backgrounds. Specifically, there is a large community of refugees from Mauritania that live in neighboring communities, but frequently visit Wyoming because of the walkability and parks. I know that seeing so many refugees in the area can make a Wyoming resident feel uneasy. I believe it is through context, understanding and being supportive that everyone can win in this situation. While I was volunteering with JWC for their Mums fundraiser, I spoke to a few of the refugees hanging out at Oak Park. I asked and encouraged one of my new friends to help us. They helped us move so many pots of Mums across the field for distribution. We practiced their English by going over colors and numbers all while complementing on how beautiful the Mums were and how they will make our community even more beautiful. This is an example of how I operate. I get to know others and make connections that matter. When a resident reached out to me about seeing so many men at Oak Park and concern for safety in the area, I could at least provide more context about the situation. I also reached out to another resident to find out what kind of support this group of refugees might need.
In the past few years, Wyoming has made positive progress in this area. A key place for welcoming is in our schools. The schools have created a Belonging and Inclusion Collaborative to help address this. As a city, we’ve created the Universal Playground – a space that is accessible for play to all and it’s the first of its kind in Cincinnati. We’ve extended the hike/bike trail to improve community mobility and provide community connection, including with neighboring communities. The Village Green provides wonderful opportunity to foster collaboration and programming to celebrate diversity.
While we’ve made progress, there’s always more to do. Moving forward we need more diversity in our city and community leadership – Council, City Staff, City Boards and Commissions. We need a diverse set of applicants for these positions so we broaden the base of perspectives that can be considered in all our city’s initiatives.
Wyoming is becoming more diverse, and I believe that is because we are inherently welcoming. The things that concern me are that national issues that affect us all, especially inflation making the economic impacts harder for everyone.