The City of Norman is looking for residents to serve on the new Inclusive Community Subcommittee.
Applications are available at the City Clerk's Office or on the city's website, http://www.normanok.gov/. Interested Norman residents must fill out a Norman Boards and Commissions application and a supplemental questionnaire by 5 p.m. Sept. 10. The subcommittee members will identify a list of actions and ways for Norman to improve and become a more inclusive community.
The idea for the subcommittee came from Mayor Breea Clark. The subcommittee falls under the Norman Human Rights Commission.
Clark said she realized how much work Norman still has to do to become an inclusive community after the debate over changing the name of Debarr Street. She spearheaded a movement to change the street's name in 2017 when she was a Ward 6 councilmember. The street was named after founding OU professor and KKK leader Edwin DeBarr.
Property owners along the street banned together and started a petition to change the name to Dean's Row. The City Council approved the new name in December 2017.
"The Debarr issue is what inspired me that we had more to do," Clark said. "That made me realize that we have more work to do than I originally thought we did on the variety of diversity issues."
Clark said she wants the subcommittee to create a road map of items the council can use to become a truly inclusive community, and she will present the list of actions and ways to improve inclusivity in the Norman community at the annual Mayor's Interfaith Breakfast on Jan. 20, Martin Luther King Jr. Day. In this subcommittee The mayor said she hopes the subcommittee includes residents from diverse areas that are representative of what the Norman community looks like.
"I would want someone to be invested, and have some kind of involvement with the community that lends itself to ideas for ways we can improve," Clark said. "I don't want this to be a committee that is solely focused on airing grievances."
In accordance with the City's Civil Rights Ordinance, the subcommittee's chairman will be a member of the Human Rights Commission. The commission will vote in the subcommittee's chairman and members at 5:30 p.m. Sept. 16, The subcommittee will first meet at 5:30 p.m. Sept. 23 and again on three following Mondays: Oct. 21, Nov. 18 and Dec. 16.
Kay Ham, chairwoman of the Norman Human Rights Commission, said the main goal of the subcommittee is to support the goals of the Human Rights Commission: provide opportunities for the community to engage and to talk about issues that are important to them. She said since the subcommittee hasn't started yet there are a lot of decisions still to be made.
The subcommittee will be a welcome addition to the what the city already offers, Ham said, and will provide another layer of opportunities for people to become involved in the issue of human rights.
Assistant City Attorney Kristina Bell is the staff liaison for the Human Rights Commission and said she will serve as a facilitator once the subcommittee starts meeting.
The application process is similar to other board and commission application processes, Bell said, but the additional questions are more geared towards what the purpose of the subcommittee is. Asking what residents think the city could do better, suggested actions and skills or backgrounds that are relevant to the subcommittee.
Clark encourages residents to apply. She said these meetings are open to the public so people can stay engaged in the process, but public comments during the meeting will be a decision for the subcommittee to make.