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Welcoming Tolerance
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Photo: Jonathan Adrianzen
With so many headlines featuring limitations that suggest segregation, it is a relief to see “Cities make quiet plea for tolerance.” Best of all, it appeared in the center of the lower front page of USA Today (August 4, 2006, www.usatoday.com)—prime real estate for a newspaper.

Reporter Haya El Nasser highlights a new initiative by the National League of Cities (NLC). According to James Hunt, president of the association this year, the “Partnership for Working Toward Inclusive Communities” is promoting equal opportunity and fairness.

The NLC developed this Partnership in response to public discussion on issues such as restricting family type housing (to limit expensive public support projects such as schools), immigration, and banning same-sex marriages. It is important to understand that the Partnership is facilitating more discussion—rather than targeting specific topics.

Discussion Focus

Cities that have joined the Partnership vary in size and history. To name just a few:  Selma, Alabama; Little Rock, Arkansas; Brea, California; Casper, Wyoming; Clarksburg, West Virginia. Whatever the community, the discussions focus on what inclusiveness means and how to develop tolerance.

The article ends with a quote from George Galster, professor of urban affairs at Wayne State University, Detroit, Michigan, “American neighborhoods are becoming much more segregated….If the symbolism turns into real community discussion about diversity, what it means, what people like, what people don’t like, then it could have a very positive effect.”

What can you do to encourage such discussion in your community? Think about the organizations or groups with which you are involved. Share this concept with the leaders. Suggest activities such as cultural events, panel discussions, and presentations with small group discussions. Venues might include high schools, community leadership groups such as Rotary, and fairs or special events.

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