Evanston asks residents to weigh in on diversity, inclusion

Paige Leskin, City Editor

An Evanston subcommittee has released a survey for residents to take that will help members design a three-year plan for the future that promotes diversity and inclusion throughout the community.

The city’s Human Relations Commission is in the process of creating a work plan that will outline the group’s direction in establishing initiatives and goals from 2015 to 2017, commission member Jonathan Williams-Kinsel said.

Williams-Kinsel, a fellow from the International City/County Management Association who is working with Evanston, said the survey serves as an overall evaluation of the status of diversity and inclusion in the city, making it a better place to live for all.

“One of our biggest things is to promote diversity and inclusion in Evanston,” Williams-Kinsel said. “It’s really what makes Evanston Evanston.”

The survey, which closes Nov. 14, consists of general demographic questions, which will tell the commission what kind of diversity exists, and questions that ask users how they feel about the state of inclusion in the current community.

The commission aims to use the responses to first assess and then address whatever the questionnaire shows, whether it’s the need for more volunteer opportunities or better access to city committee meetings, Williams-Kinsel said.

The commission was formed to foster relations between the different ethnicities, races, religions and groups that make up Evanston’s communities. Past work plans have put the commission in partnership with organizations like the YWCA Evanston/North Shore, Williams-Kinsel said.

As with previous work plans, the new plan aims to bring together the ideas and contributions of all the various people in the community, he said.

“From our city manager to our next door neighbor, we need input from everybody,” Williams-Kinsel said. “(Commission members) want to make sure that their work plan is based off of not only the results of the survey, but also the ideas from residents in the community.”

Williams-Kinsel said the commission hopes to have a first draft of the work plan complete by the group’s meeting in February 2015. Once the plan is finalized, the commission will ensure it is distributed throughout the community so residents know what will be targeted for improvements in Evanston, he said.

“The commissioners are working hard, and they definitely appreciate everything,” Williams-Kinsel said. “All that the residents have already done and the city has already done and all the partners have done to promote diversity and inclusion … we want to continue to do that.”

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