‘Racism and discrimination must be eliminated from our region,’ planning director says

This guest column by Brian O. Martin appeared on the Ideas and Voices page Tuesday, Oct. 6.

The Board of Directors for the Miami Valley Regional Planning Commission unanimously passed a resolution last week ensuring equity, diversity, and inclusion in all MVRPC staff, committee, and Board of Directors actions.

This action is immensely significant because the MVRPC Board of Directors represents nearly 80 local communities and public entities in the Miami Valley Region.

It confirms that collectively, the Miami Valley denounces all forms of discrimination and racism and will work together to increase equity, diversity, and inclusion in all communities.

The process to pass a regional resolution of this magnitude was as important as the vote itself. It sparked conversations within dozens of our member communities about how they might reflect their own commitments to their residents, with many issuing their own statements or passing their own similar resolutions.

This powerful statement by our board of directors affirms that as a region, we will proactively plan for ways to address inequity because increasing disparity adversely impacts peoples' quality of life now and for future generations.

The action taken by the MVRPC Board of Directors is the latest in a series of efforts by MVRPC to accurately capture research, harness data and place a focus on equity in the Miami Valley.

In July 2017, we published the Miami Valley Equity Regional Profile, using data and maps to clearly demonstrate that not all areas of our Region have equal access to opportunity.

In October 2017, MVRPC launched the Miami Valley Equity Initiative in response to the clear gaps identified through our Equity Profile.

In 2019, in partnership with The Dayton Foundation, the Del Mar Fund, Learn to Earn Dayton and local business, healthcare, non-profit and higher education institutions, our Equity Initiative evolved to become the Institute for Livable and Equitable Communities.

As part of this effort, MVRPC convenes on a monthly basis with the Equity Leadership Team, a broad cross section of community leaders committed to developing strategies and funding initiatives that reduce racism and increase access to opportunity for all.

Adoption of the resolution further supports the agency’s work in this area. It confirms that the MVRPC Board of Directors is highly supportive of MVRPC, the Miami Valley, and our partners in this work.

The MVRPC staff will proudly work with our board and all Miami Valley communities, businesses, and organizations to assist each and every one with designing the custom approaches to assist with reaching their equity, diversity and inclusion goals.

The affirmation that racism and discrimination must be eliminated from our region offers a unified declaration of the challenge we must take on together and within our own organizations, neighborhoods, schools, and broader communities.

Our work is just beginning.

Brian O. Martin is executive director of the Miami Valley Regional Planning Commission. The organization promotes collaboration among communities, stakeholders, and residents to advance regional priorities.

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