US Mayor Article

Conference of Idaho Cities Coles and Idaho Mayors Commit to Addressing Human Rights and Human Dignity in Idaho

By Crystal Swann
July 17, 2000

Conference of Mayors President Boise Mayor H. Brent Coles, along with hundreds of Idaho Mayors and city officials, met in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, June 27 to July 1 for the 53rd Annual Conference of Idaho Cities.

"Building Healthy Communities" was this year's theme and city officials engaged in the week-long series of workshops and seminars developed to assist city officials in building strong, healthy, and tolerant communities.

Some of the sessions, with the support of the Carr Foundation and The Carr Center for Human Rights Policy at Harvard University, focused on training sessions for city officials on implementing the "developmental assets" approach, conflict resolutions/peaceful negotiations, international human rights issues, and combating racism.

During the session entitled, "The Asset Building Approach to Building Healthy Communities," participants engaged in a lively discussion about the many factors that influence why some young people have successes in life and why others have a harder time. Based on research by the Search Institute, participants learned about the 40 concrete, positive experiences and qualities "developmental assets" that have a tremendous influence on young people's lives. The "assets" are grouped into eight categories: support, empowerment, boundaries and expectations, constructive use of time, commitment to learning, positive values, social competencies, and positive identity.

The groups are then separated into external and internal assets. External assets are those that focus on positive experiences that young people receive from the people and institutions in their lives; and internal assets are those assets that develop the internal qualities that guide choices and create a sense of centeredness, purpose, and focus.

The theme "Building Healthy Communities" is also a focal point of Mayor Coles' term as new President of the Conference of Mayors. "Strong, healthy families are the foundation upon which vibrant, livable cities are built and we must be vigilant in our efforts to uphold human rights and protect human dignity," stated Mayor Coles, after he assumed the presidency of the Conference in June at the 68th Annual Conference in Seattle.

The issue of human rights and human dignity was the theme of last year's Association of Idaho Cities conference and will continue to be a theme for many more meetings thanks to an initiative spearheaded by one of its very own. Greg Carr, former chairman of Prodigy, Inc. (an Internet service provider) and a native Idahoan, issued a "challenge grant" last year to the people of Idaho to raise money for a human rights memorial. The citizens of Idaho rose to the challenge by raising nearly $750,000 over four months, which tripled the $250,000 goal Mr. Carr had established. by The Anne Frank Human Rights Memorial, which will be built along the Boise River Greenbelt, will stand as an example of Idaho's commitment to racial tolerance.

In his inaugural address at the 68th Conference of Mayors, Mayor Coles committed to leading the way on human rights and the strengthening of communities. "As Mayors, we cannot ignore the importance of protecting human dignity and human rights. We must work to foster the values of civility, tolerance, and respect in families, neighborhoods, the workplace, and in city hall," he stated.

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