Tuesday, February 09, 2016

Councilman Stepanek issues press release on Diversity Coordinator position




On Tuesday the City Council will begin to identify steps towards hiring a Diversity Coordinator. This position was initially proposed by Councilor Ben Stepanek in the 2016 Budget, but was rejected by the City Council at that time. After Councilors received numerous emails in support of the position it has taken top priority. If created, the position would help Oshkosh compete in a globalizing society and attract millenials to the community.

"During the 2016 Budget deliberations, I held listening sessions, spoke with community stakeholders & I recognized the need & public support for hiring a Diversity Coordinator by the City," Stepanek said. " I am looking forward to seeing this position in the City Managers 2017 Budget proposal. I am thrilled with the public support that has come pouring in on this issue & even more excited about how far the City Councilors opinion have come on this issue in the last three months. I am glad that more Councilors are getting engaged in the discussion & putting forward ideas on how to make this position a reality in Oshkosh," he said. 

The Council will need to approve the position in the 2017 City budget. For more information on this position please contact Ben Stepanek @ 920-765-1072 bstepanek@ci.oshkosh.wi.us. Community members can email their Councilors in support of a Diversity Coordinator in the City by using the link below.

* Editor's Note: Meanwhile, there will be a general Conversation on Diversity held in the Council Chambers and sponsored by Councilors Clark and Pech on Tuesday, February 16 from 6 to 7:30 pm. This discussion is intended to have citizens talk with the councilors and each other about their feelings and thoughts regarding diversity in today's society. Citizens are therefore encouraged to attend.  

Racial literacy organization seeks volunteers

Interested in volunteering for Fit Oshkosh?
Join us this Saturday, February 13, from 9a-1p at the Hooper Building (where Oshkosh United Way is located) 36 Broad Street, Oshkosh, WI.
If you would care to learn more about this racial literacy organization, are considering volunteering, or want to learn more about how to become a trained Facilitator for Fit, please plan to attend.
Complimentary refreshments will be served.
An RSVP is required. For more information, please call 920-479-5380 or email us at fitoshkosh@gmail.com.

Monday, February 08, 2016

Oshkosh Common Councilors to hold Conversation on Diversity, Feb. 16, 2016

I received this as part of an email from Oshkosh Common Councilor Tom Pech, Jr., and I encourage as many folks as are able to attend this discussion. Because of a previous commitment I will only be able to be there for about 30 minutes or so, but a little bit is better than nothing to demonstrate our interest in furthering this conversation along. ...

"Councilor Clark and I will be holding a Conversation on Diversity 16 February from 1800 to 1930 (6 to 7:30 pm) in Council Chambers.  When it comes down to it diversity is knowing, understanding and accepting each person’s similarities to ourselves as well as our differences.  This comes from talking to each other, rather than at each other.  It comes from listening and truly hearing what others say, not interpreting what is said through our own filter, pre-conceived notions or biases.  It means asking questions if we do not understand what is being said to seek that understanding and clarity. Simply stated it means treating others as we would want to be treated. And it all begins with a conversation."

New episode of Eye on Oshkosh now online

The latest episode of Eye on Oshkosh is now online. Host Cheryl Hentz talks with Jake White from Party.0 about his efforts to get kids away from drinking to have fun, and instead to organizing and participating in sober house parties and activities. In the second segment, Hentz is joined by Angie McCarthy from Beaming, Inc. as they discuss equine therapy and the annual fundraiser Beaming conducts each year - "Night at the Races." Check out the show here: https://youtu.be/1ryduBUw5zs

Tuesday, February 02, 2016

Call for Diversity Coordinator position in Oshkosh


Dear City Manager, Mayor and City Council Members:

I am writing to urge you to do whatever is necessary to move forward with the development of a Diversity Coordinator in the city of Oshkosh. I don't know if this position would be solely funded by the city, or be a shared position between the city, county and school district. Depending on the vision of what the person in this person would be charged with doing, it might even be funded partially by GO-EDC or some other local economic development organization that would benefit by its existence. My concern with getting too many organizations in the mix, however, is there could then too many "chiefs" to answer to, unless the various entities would have one body to who the person would report to. The various organizations could form a board or coalition to oversee the position, and the diversity coordinator could report to that board. Or something of that nature.  

The City of Appleton has a diversity coordinator and while I don't know exactly how this position is funded or how it is overseen, I believe we could learn much from how they've approached this issue and the position they've created. I further believe this position is one that is overdue in Oshkosh, as we are quickly becoming a diversified community and need to make everyone feel welcome and that they fit, etc. I know that the position of diversity coordinator covers much more than that, but in a nutshell it is about attracting people to this community, being inclusive and making newcomers here feel welcome and that they belong, as opposed to their being given the impression they are somehow second-class citizens or outsiders in our community, simply because they are not from here.

When I hear comments like those made by Mayor Steve Cummings at a School Board/Council meeting last week - (http://www.oshkoshcommunitymedia.org/board_of_education_stream.htm) (the conversation starts at about the :45:15 mark, but Mr. Cummings specific comments start at approximately the :48:40 mark), that people need to first understand our history and our community - I am not only disheartened and disappointed, but sickened. Yes, knowing about someone and where they're coming from is important, but it is also a long process - one that in many cases is always evolving. But we certainly do not need to understand someone's history in order to make our community inclusive, welcoming and accepting of those who are of a different race, religion, culture, sexual orientation, etc., do we? I think not. I also do not understand how, in a conversation about diversity and being inclusive, Mr. Cummings feels that using language that seems to separate "them" from "us" or "our," does anything at all toward furthering an inclusiveness within our community. Quite frankly, I find that attitude, especially in 2016, shameful.

So I would applaud those council members who voted to make the issue of a diversity coordinator a priority for the city manager in 2016 and I would implore you all as a collective voting body to continue forging ahead in this regard, just as I would encourage everyone in our community or elsewhere to follow the Golden Rule, and treat others - no matter who they are - as they would like to be treated.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

- Cheryl Hentz

Monday, January 11, 2016

Eye on Oshkosh bids farewell to OPD Chief Scott Greuel; welcomes successor Dean Smith

The latest episode of “Eye on Oshkosh” in now online. During this hour, host Cheryl Hentz talks with the retiring Oshkosh Police Chief Scott Greuel about his 30-year tenure with the department and what he hopes his legacy will be. Later in the show she speaks with his successor, incoming Police Chief Dean Smith, about his background and where he hopes to take the department during his tenure which begins at 12:01 AM on Jan. 9, 2016. You can view the episode here…https://youtu.be/KcH-IFETOpk.
Best wishes, Chief Scott Greuel, and thanks for your many years of service.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Eye on Oshkosh episode discusses upcoming, free community book read

The latest episode of Eye on Oshkosh is now online. Watch it here to see a discussion of race and racial literacy with the executive director of Fit Oshkosh, Inc., Tracey Robertson. https://youtu.be/6Mevcg1gMQE

During this hour-long show host Cheryl Hentz talks with Robertson about the racial literacy work her organization does and why it's important for a community. She also gives details on Fit's free, upcoming Color-Brave Community Read, in which several community, government, business, education and non-profit leaders will read the nationally-acclaimed book "Between the World and Me" by Ta-Nehisi Coates along with other community residents between the Jan. 19, 2016 kick-off and the end of June. Whether You Tube viewers are local (Oshkosh, WI area) or elsewhere, they're all encouraged to read the book along with everyone else.

This book discusses the feelings, symbolism, and realities around being black in the United States, including the history of violence, and unfairness against Blacks. This Read hopes to dispel fears about discussing race frankly and trained facilitators will help guide conversations in a safe, open environment.

The event kicks off January 19, and will be held monthly at both the Oshkosh Seniors Center and the UWO Alumni Welcome & Conference Center.

Join other citizens and community leaders including Oshkosh City Manager Mark Rohloff, Oshkosh Area United Way executive director Sue Panek, Oshkosh school superintendent Stan Mack II, Oshkosh Mayor Steve Cummings, Oshkosh Common Councilor Ben Stepanek, State Representative Gordon Hintz and Eye on Oshkosh host Cheryl Hentz for this one-of-a-kind Read. To register or get more info call 920-479-5380 or see the Fit Oshkosh Facebook page or the Fit website at www.fit-oshkosh.org. The event is sponsored in part by the Wisconsin Humanities Council, First Congregational Church (Oshkosh), Celebrate Diversity (Appleton), UW-Oshkosh, and the Oshkosh Seniors Center.