California cities are making good on their collective promise to improve equity. During the past year, the League of California Cities (CalCities) created an equity roadmap and chatroom. Now, many cities are engaged in local efforts to improve equity and are making some good progress.
It’s been a little over a year since CalCities released its Equity Roadmap, which provides suggestions for improving racial equity in the areas of workshops, discussions and training, along with resources in each area. This spring the organization added an Advancing Equity Community online portal through which members can exchange ideas, ask questions and give advice.
Progress on equity at the local level is evident across the state, with cities like Stockton and Hayward making changes years ago. Also, Long Beach created an Office on Equity two years ago that provides training to city employees and has published an Equity and Inclusion Lens Handbook. More recently, Redwood City created an equity plan that includes an Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, Accessibility, and Leadership (IDEAL) program to advance equity among departments.
Elsewhere in California, the City of Mountain View recently started civic leadership academies for both the Spanish-speaking community and Chinese immigrant community. Both academies enroll individuals whose dominant language is not English, helping them learn about civic affairs and get engaged. Mountain View has long offered translation on its web and phone services, accommodating multiple languages.
Lakewood, CA, has leaned on its faith community to help bridge cultural differences, creating a faith council two years ago that helped sponsor community dialogues on race. Lakewood formalized its community engagement into a Community Dialogue Action Plan to create ongoing opportunities for public discussion, some of which led to an annual multicultural food and music festival called Fest-Of-All.