News

Push is on to involve eyeryone in their city

By ERICA HALL

Staff writer

The city’s Diversity Commission has two events planned in the near future, one to enhance leadership in Federal Way and the other to donate books to local schools.

The commission is holding its first Leadership and Equity Forum at 7 p.m. March 1 at Borders Books, 1824 S. 320th St. in Federal Way.

Representatives from the city’s commissions and boards, civic organizations, community service groups, charitable and church institutions will be available at the forum to discuss the work they do and to showcase opportunities for leadership.

The commission has invited Federal Way residents from all ethnic backgrounds to attend the forum to learn how to become leaders and how to get involved in important city issues.

The forum dovetails with some of the themes expressed at the city’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Day celebration last month.

City leaders and event organizers then encouraged Federal Way residents to get involved to make a positive difference in the city. The forum March 1 will show people where in the city to direct their volunteer energies, said Trise Moore, the Diversity Commission’s former chairwoman.

“It’s amazing how many people aren’t aware they can be involved in the commissions and non-profit organizations,” she said.

There are 10 city commissions: the Arts Commission, the Civil Service Commission, the Diversity Commission, the Ethics Board, the Human Services Commission, the Parks and Recreation Commission, the Planning Commission, the Independent Salary Commission, the Lodging Tax Advisory Committee and the Youth Commission. Each one is made up of volunteers from the community who serve terms, hear issues and make recommendations to the City Council and staff.

As one example of community involvement, the Diversity Commission is organizing a book drive in conjunction with Literacy Month. The commission partnered with Borders Books in Federal Way to provide the books, which were selected to reflect the diverse composition of the schools to which they’re going and to provide ways for students and their families to learn more about their own culture and those of their classmates. All the books offer “authentic and positive representations” for children, according to the commission.

Last year, the commission donated culturally diverse books to the library. This year, the commission decided to donate them to three elementary schools — Olympic View, Mark Twain and Sunnycrest — based on the diversity of the student body and the percentage of students eligible for free and reduced-price lunches.

Civic and community leaders will read the books to elementary school children from March 1 through 5.

The commission’s mission is to engage leadership reflective of the community, Moore said.

She said the City Council does reflect the diversity of the city. Mayor Dean McColgan is part Pacific Islander, Councilman Mike Park is Korean, and Councilman Eric Faison is African-American.

There are two white women and two white men on the council –– Linda Kochmar, Jeanne Burbidge, Jack Dovey and Jim Ferrell.

Moore said she isn’t as familiar with the cultural and ethnic compositions of other commissions and boards in the city, but she said it appears the people who want to are getting involved.

Part of the Diversity Commission’s mission is to ensure those who don’t feel they have a voice or representation in city planning and policymaking become aware of how to make their opinions known.

“There are pockets of different cultures within this community, but there’s not yet one cultural place for everyone to collaborate,” Moore said. “It’s somewhat difficult to join and unify when you don’t have a place.

“You can’t force collaboration and you can’t force involvement. As people start feeling more comfortable in the pockets of the community, we’ll see more involvement.”

Staff writer Erica Hall: 925-5565, ehall@fedwaymirror.com

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