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An area of focus brought to the City’s attention thanks to the work of Equal UA, is a strong desire to explore options for the advancement of the community as a place that is welcoming, cohesive and inclusive. To help us get there, in the spring and early summer, UA resident Floyd Akins led a community relations assessment effort designed to help uncover the issues requiring our attention AND to develop a roadmap that will enable us to build on our strengths and shore up areas of weakness, so that all in our community feel connected, supported and valued.

More than 400 community members were directly invited to participate in two workshops, and an open invitation was extended to the entire community via various City communications channels. An online survey was fielded in early May, generating 133 responses that were used to help spark discussions at the two public workshops, which were held May 18 and June 5. In total, 85 individuals participated in the workshops. At the September 16 Conference Session, Mr. Akins and representatives of Equal UA discussed his “Upper Arlington Community Cultural Workshop Summary Report” with Council.

Subsequently, Council passed a Resolution to form a temporary Community Relations Assessment Committee to further review the series of ideas and initiatives generated at the workshops, as well as the recommendation that Council should consider creating a community advisory board. Committee members are: City Council members Michele Hoyle, Jim Lynch and Sue Ralph, Equal UA representatives Nic Fortkamp, Marianne Mitchell and Michelle Montgomery, Schools representative Tricia Fellinger, Library representative Jenn Faure, City Manager Steve Schoeny, Police Chief Steve Farmer and Community Affairs Director Emma Speight.

Over a series of meetings in October and November, the Committee has been working to develop a recommended framework, mission and goals for a new public entity focused on reaffirming and expanding positive community relations in Upper Arlington. At the December 2 Council Conference Session, the Committee recommended to Council that it form a Community Relations Committee.

Under the proposed framework for the committee, Council will appoint seven members who reflect a mix of representation, such as age, gender, ethnicity and tenure as a resident. Numerous entities have also been identified that will be invited to participate as affiliated groups, such as Equal UA, The Stand Project, Leadership UA, Asian American Community Services, all schools in our community, the Library, faith-based organizations, Realtors, and civic groups.

The Committee also developed a “UA” definition of community relations, a statement of purpose, mission and vision statements for the new committee, as well as a series of goals that fall under the categories of:

  • Welcome | Connect | Belong
  • Educate | Inform | Enlighten
  • Gather |Share | Celebrate

The temporary Committee plans to schedule a number of gatherings early in the New Year to share the proposed framework with community members to seek input on what priorities the new committee should focus on once formed.

Residents interested in participating in one of the upcoming meetings or in serving on the Community Relations Committee are asked to contact Emma Speight, at 614-583-5045 or espeight@uaoh.net.

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