What does it look like for Nebraska to have the most inclusive communities in America?
Now, I'm not talking about franchising across the state with billboard signs in the shape of an illuminated "IC" to serve as beacons on the side of the road where weary travelers would stop to fuel up or find respite as they pass. Instead, I'm proposing an aspirational manifestation of the assertion that each community in Nebraska will do everything possible to respect all its citizens, give full access to resources and promote equal treatment & opportunity for every person. Communities that actively and transparently work to end all forms of discrimination and to engage all their citizens in decision-making processes that affect their lives.
Lately, you might have noticed us getting a little out of our comfort zone. We've embarked on a few journeys outside Omaha's usual streets and into greater Nebraska's cornfields. I grew up in rural Illinois and am familiar with the long stretches of road to get from one city to another. As a youth, I used to think I couldn't wait to escape those long drives – to be in a hustling and bustling city, riding public transportation, walking, or hailing taxis. However, the more cities I've lived in/ visited and the more roads I've driven, the more I'm reminded that EVERY journey requires creativity, patience, fortitude, and packing your gluten-free snacks.
The journey - THAT is where our work resides.
When we told folks that we were heading on the road, there was a lot of concern about how the individuals beyond Omaha/Lincoln would receive us (or our mission). But, outside of the long drives through pastures and sandhills, what we've found is quite simply put: many people and communities of practice are doing just what we are doing, their best.
We've had the chance to meet with many community members who are excited about amplifying their work or looking for partners to help them achieve their goals. Through dialogue with multiple mayors and chambers of commerce, city council members, elected officials, police chiefs, business representatives and owners, school district reps, clergy, restorative justice workers, public health workers, nonprofit leaders and all the allies you can imagine- they all openly shared with us what they dream for their communities, what they predict, where they are stuck. We met these engaged citizens on their turf, and we were allowed a short peek to see how they work to create these inclusive communities we philosophize about.
The Inclusive Communities team and our board are making an intentional and coordinated effort to expand our youth, community, business, strategic consulting, and advocacy programs across Nebraska. We are committed to designing, developing, and delivering programs that educate, raise awareness and develop the skills necessary to create welcoming and inclusive organizations, communities, and schools.
We will show the rest of America what it looks like by leading from the HEARTland.
We've just begun building relationships and our capacity to meet these communities where they are as we embark on this trek together.
Join us on our journey and give to our expansion funds. DONATE TODAY.
Yours 'til the Scotts Bluff,