As part of implementing its ValpoNEXT initiative, the City of Valparaiso has formed a new taskforce to conduct research and promote its values of inclusiveness and diversity throughout the community. The name of the new taskforce is “Altogether Valpo.”
Altogether Valpo is being chaired by Bruce Berner, a retired V. U. law professor and long time city advisor. “Bruce has chaired a number of taskforces within the city and has done a phenomenal job in building consensus and moving causes forward,” said Mayor Jon Costas. Berner and Mayor Costas have selected 13 people from varying civic backgrounds as members of Altogether Valparaiso, as well as many additional citizens who will serve on the three subcommittees. The members of Altogether Valpo are:
“As our community grows in size as well as diversity, we need to ensure that our message and policies reflect our desire to be welcoming and appealing to people from all walks of life”, said Mayor Costas. Berner stated that Altogether Valpo will focus on the following three areas of concern, and provide a structured approach to researching best practices, receiving citizen input and making recommendations to the City Council.
1. City Hiring practices
The taskforce will review existing practices, and make recommendations as to how the City can better promote a more diverse workplace.
2. Diversity of Housing Options
This will include conducting a comprehensive survey of current housing options and costs in Valparaiso, and comparing Valparaiso to other Midwestern cities of similar size, especially other university towns. Based on the data, the taskforce will provide recommendations as to areas of need and potential options.
The taskforce will consider ways to better promote Valparaiso’s welcoming spirit and reduce barriers to inclusion. Also, it will reach out to Valparaiso citizens to determine what inclusion means to a diverse audience and how to best promote an environment of inclusion.
“I’m pleased to chair this important effort with the goal of building a stronger community through meaningful dialogue, and mutual respect,” said Berner. Berner noted that the core vision from the ValpoNEXT planning effort was for Valpo to be the most civically engaged city of its size in the Midwest. “Altogether Valpo is another opportunity for citizens to build on our strong community fabric and embrace the values that will lead us forward into a successful future.” Altogether Valpo will begin meeting after Labor Day with a kick-off meeting to outline goals. The public is invited to attend. Meeting times and locations will be published in local media.