Joseph T. Geller

A Day of Diversity

1. Briefly describe the structure of your program.

On March 15, 1998 a day of dialogue was held at Temple Ohabei Shalom in Brookline. Itís purpose was to exchange ideas with all concerned members of the community who wish to live in a town which respects and appreciates the fact that divergent backgrounds are a community resource. This symposium developed recommendations which were presented to the Board of Selectmen at a later date.

The symposium was attended by more than 125 participants, including members of the Brookline Police Department (Chief Daniel C. OíLeary and members of his command staff). These people represented a broad range of interests, town agencies, departments and constituencies. The format for the day included opening remarks by speakers who set the tone for the dialogue groups, facilitated dialogue groups and a summary closing session. The majority of the time was spent in the dialogue groups in which 12-15 randomly grouped participants discussed issues of education, employment, housing, workplace diversity and privilege/oppression.

The participants completed evaluations and recommendations. The two major recommendations centered on a fully developed school-based strategy and an employment strategy.

The major points of the school-based plan included development of curricula dealing with the history of the minority groups represented in the town of Brookline. Participants also wanted to create awards dealing with standards for civility and achievement and to provide schools with successful role models.

Another goal is to develop a cooperative plan that insures understanding amongst student populations.

The employment strategies advanced, include hiring of town residents that are economically disadvantaged (i.e., elderly and the economically disenfranchised) and increasing recruitment efforts in surrounding minority populations.

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