What is this?
Better Together is a citizen-led, government supported effort to build deeper connection, understanding, and mutual respect among the Decatur community.
The process will facilitate a substantive community conversation around the myriad differences — in culture, race, age, abilities, politics, economic resources, and more — that make us who we are. Taking shape as a variety of citizen-participation opportunities in the Fall of 2015, it will culminate in the creation of a tangible Community Action Plan focused on cultivating a more just, welcoming, inclusive, equitable and compassionate experience for all who visit, live or work in the City of Decatur.
The entire process will be promoted and documented here on Decatur Next, so stay tuned.
What is a Community Action Plan?
Better Together’s deliverable, the Community Action Plan, will ultimately become a policy and implementation guide for the city commission, consisting of facts about Decatur’s populations, background on the Better Together process and the people behind it, key findings and recommendations that emerge from the process, the community’s suggested actions moving forward, and the individuals or organizations responsible for implementation.
Such actions will likely address multiple aspects of diversity in Decatur, from the affordability of our housing to rising taxes to community/police relations to communications and outreach.
Why are we doing it?
Principle B from 2010’s Strategic Plan reads, “Encourage a diverse and engaged community.” Associated with this principle are multiple goals to maintain and encourage all manner of diversity, strengthen our connections, foster greater interaction, and promote a stronger sense of community.
That’s where we want to be but are we? Growing challenges such as housing affordability, rising taxes, and some recent events, particularly ones rooted in race, have called our community commitment into question and spotlighted the fact that not everyone feels equally welcome here. It’s clearly time, perhaps even past time, to get started.
Who’s behind it?
The short answer is “all of us” in the sense that Better Together is ingrained in the task list of 2010’s Strategic Plan, the community-driven to-do list of city commission priorities. But more specifically, it’s a collection of volunteer Decatur residents representing a diverse cross-section of the community who, together with our police chief and a handful of city employees, are serving as the Leadership Circle organizing committee. The city is providing logistical and resource support and a non-profit partner, Welcoming America, helped us procure a $25,000 grant to help fund the effort.
The Art of Community, a participatory engagement firm, is on board to help guide the process and compile the results.
When is it happening?
The Leadership Circle’s been working together since late 2014 — getting to know and trust one another and working to define goals and a process for engaging the broader community. Those recommendations were presented to the City Commission in July and given the go-ahead. The Circle has since worked through logistics and will present a formal, community-wide kick-off on Saturday, August 29, from 10am-3pm.
The full schedule, as it’s coming together, can be found here.