Green is Intentional in Developing a More Inclusive Community
Green, OH – Following several small group meetings from January through July between residents, Councilman Rocco Yeargin and Mayor Gerard Neugebauer, the City of Green’s Citizens Group for Diversity, Inclusion and Equity is hosting its first meeting on Saturday, August 17 at 9 a.m. at the Central Administration Building, 1755 Town Park Blvd. This newly formed group, to be led by 15-year Green resident Henry Johnson Jr., will make recommendations on strategic initiatives to address the increasing needs of a diverse, multi-cultural community.
“Green is a great place with a lot of great people, but our question is simple ‘how do we make our minority residents more comfortable so that they feel they have a place at the table’ and in answering this question we can be more inclusive for all,” said Yeargin.
In January, Yeargin invited a small group along with Mayor Gerard Neugebauer to his home in January to talk about the challenges of being a minority in a community that is 93% white. They discussed how the minority community feels that its small representation and everyday struggles are perhaps unnoticed by the majority. Additional meetings throughout the first half of 2019 furthered the conversation and ideas emerged for ways the community could be inclusive to all.
“Focusing on diversity and inclusion embraces learning from each other, sharing visions, values and historical perspectives that can positively impact our community for a productive future,” said Johnson.
The idea to start these conversations, and ultimately, to build to a citizens group began in conversations over the past couple of years with residents. Then last fall, in a conversation between Yeargin and Neugebauer discussing how impressed they were with the City’s Student Municipal Representatives (students from tenth through twelfth grade who are appointed to serve on a City board or commission for the year), and how diverse a group of students.
“We observed this diversity in our student representatives and other youth programs, but we weren’t seeing the same level of diversity and inclusion in our City boards, commissions and community groups,” said Neugebauer. “We realized we can do a better job of being more accessible to all, which in turn will make Green a better place.”
After a few meetings with individuals in the community, Yeargin reached out to Robert DeJournett, Vice President of Opportunity and Inclusion for the Greater Akron Chamber, and Neugebauer reached out to Andre Campbell, Director of Diversity and Inclusion, for the United Way of Summit County for additional guidance in developing a more formal group.
“The direction we received from Andre and Robert was essential in helping us get started with meeting first in small groups, even helping us connect with individuals who live in Green,” said Yeargin. “Essentially Robert shared with us that to be inclusive you need to be ‘deliberate and intentional’ and we really took that to heart.”
Then, on a Saturday morning in July, more than 20 people attended a larger discussion, including representatives from Green Local Schools and the City, on what does diversity and inclusion look like in Green. DeJournett and Campbell facilitated the discussion to dive deeper into the topics that emerged during the small group meetings including:
- defining what inclusion and diversity means to our community;
- developing companion programs for the school system that dovetail with community programs;
- inviting minorities to participate more actively in community events and programs and apply for positions on City boards and commissions;
- providing programs geared for minority residents by introducing them to volunteer opportunities and become involved in community organizations; and more.
From this discussion, the group will further expand these ideas at the first meeting of the Citizens Group for Diversity, Inclusion and Equity on Saturday, August 17 at 9 a.m. at the Central Administration Building, 1755 Town Park Blvd. Light refreshments will be served. The meeting is open to all. For more information, please contact the Mayor’s office at 330-896-6602 or email email@example.com. Reservations for the meeting are not required but appreciated.
The City of Green, Ohio, founded in 1992, is a prosperous, progressive and promising city with more than 26,000 residents. Approximately 33.5 square-miles, Green is located in southern Summit County. Visit www.cityofgreen.org.
# # #