The Plan to Advance Racial Equity derives from the engagement of The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law and its Divided Community Project (DCP)/Bridge Initiative in the summer of 2019 when issues surrounding racism led to the temporary suspension of the Bloomington Community Farmers’ Market. The Bridge Initiative facilitated the process of addressing community conflict by activating and channeling the community’s own resources and leadership.
Over several months in 2019, a team from the Bridge Initiative, which offered its services at no cost, was led by former Rochester, New York Mayor, and Urban League President William Johnson. They conducted dozens of interviews with local community leaders and other residents about the overall state of race relations, diversity, and inclusion in Bloomington, and shared their findings in a report December 2019, as summarized in this City press release. The report shares observations about deep, systemic, and underlying problems of racism and other forms of discrimination and sets the stage for a long-term, community-based collaborative process for addressing them.
The report also called for the establishment of an independent community task force, supported by the City, to lead the process of identifying and implementing further action steps. Pointing to Bloomington’s “wealth of community leadership talent,” the report proposed that the task force include as many of the community’s organizations and movements as possible, disagreements notwithstanding, to manifest “the power of people coming together across different groups to act on initiatives where there can be consensus.” The report suggests that the task force be community-led, with City background support in its formation and operations.
In addition to DCP’s Bridge Initiative, the release discussed a cohort of Bloomington residents who participated in DCP’s Academy Initiative:
The eight residents who have been advancing this racial equity work received training at DCP’s Second National Academy, We, the People: Strengthening Democratic Engagement to Address Civil Unrest for Community Leaders. Joining with teams from three other U.S. cities, the Bloomington team attended a three-day training in early March 2020 designed to strengthen conflict resolution-related planning and capacity building, support and strengthen the development of a local ‘core’ leadership convener group for the communities, and provide planning opportunities for each core leadership group.
The DCP Academy Team included Carl Darnell, Assistant Dean for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, IU School of Education; Donald Griffin, Jr., owner of Griffin Realty; Lisa-Marie Napoli, Director of the IU Political and Civic Engagement (PACE) Program; Maqubé Reese, Assistant Director for Diversity Initiatives at the IU Kelley School of Business; and community activist Robb Stone; along with City of Bloomington Director of Community and Family Resources Beverly Calender-Anderson, Director of Public Engagement Mary Catherine Carmichael, and Bloomington Police Chief Michael Diekhoff.