BENTONVILLE — The City Council on Tuesday night heard about the city’s new campaign for diversity, equity and inclusion.
Bentonville Together was presented by Todd Jenkins. The plan is about connecting with the community, Mayor Stephanie Orman said.
The city is beginning to explore within city departments and in the community diversity and equitable approaches, according to the plan.
The city is initiating Bentonville Together to improve the understanding of local diverse representation, backgrounds and cultures, to identify ways inclusion and equitable approaches may support Bentonville’s community vision and to provide guidance for meaningful and transformative actions with the goal of ensuring the city is welcoming and inclusive of all, according to the plan.
The city will use the approach of “Listen, Learn and Lead,” according to the plan.
One aspect of the campaign includes setting up a Mayor’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Employee Committee, a Mayor’s DEI Community Task Force and Mayor’s DEI Advisory Board.
The Community Task Force will include at least one member from each of the city’s four wards. There is an application and interview process and then appointment by Orman. You must be a Bentonville resident to serve. The application process is open until Aug. 15. The application is online at bentonvillear.com under Boards and Commissions under the Living tab or contact Orman’s office for a form. The group will be established by Sept. 1, according to information from the city.
The Advisory Board will be selected by Sept. 1, according to information from the city.
“It has always been an initiative of my administration to provide transparent communication and my door is always open,” Orman said. “Bentonville Together is a way to continue to strengthen our city and provide open conversation on diversity, equity and inclusion. We have to begin with listening, and that has already started at a staff level with an employee group leading discussion in each department. We are working intentionally from a staff and community standpoint to build relationships to promote an inclusive community that reflects the rich diverse experiences and cultures of our city.”
In other business Tuesday night, the council approved:
• Artwork “Flight” by artist Bob Doster in Lake Benton-ville Park. Oz Art is paying for the purchase, installation and maintenance of the art. The Public Art Advisory Committee and the Benton-ville Parks and Recreation Advisory Board approved the proposal.
• Reappointment of Nathan Lembke for a second three-year term on the Tree and Landscape Advisory Committee.
• An agreement with Black Hills Energy Arkansas for utility improvements related to the Water Tower Road expansion project.
• A bid for street light installation and repair from J. Williams Contractors.
• An amendment to a $2,797,473 agreement with CR Crawford Construction to provide construction management and general contractor services for construction of the Public Works maintenance facility at 2401 S.W. Aviation St.
• An $1,164,900 agreement with Olsson Inc. to analyze four primary basins of the city sanitary sewer collection system. The 2020 budget includes $600,000 for the project. A $600,000 grant from the Walton Family Foundation will be used to cover 50% of the cost.
The Bentonville Together plans includes
• Educate staff, officials and individuals on how to listen with an open mind. Encourage staff, officials and individuals to actively and respectfully listen to community members of different backgrounds and experiences.
• Hold listening sessions internally for city department employees and externally for the community members that are inclusive of all, where participants feel comfortable and respected to share and receive information.
• Provide resources to help individuals recognize their biases, prejudices and behaviors as well as understand how their experiences and background shape what they bring to and take from a conversation.
• Establish open and honest conversations between the community, city staff and city officials to discuss diversity, equity and inclusion in a healthy and productive manner.
• Review city policies, practices and programs that may create inequality or exclusion.
• Establish a Mayor’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Employee Committee consisting of city department representatives to guide the city’s organizational strategies and actions.
• Establish the Mayor’s DEI Community Task Force consisting of individuals to guide community plans.
• Establish the Mayor’s DEI Advisory Board consisting of DEI field experts and community stakeholders to advise the city employee committee and community task force in the creation of a strategic short and long-term plan.
Mike Jones may be reached by email at [email protected] .
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