Oak Park Village Hall says let's talk diversity

'Dinner & Dialogue Project' asks residents to open their homes to others

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By Marty Stempniak

Staff Reporter

The Village of Oak Park is looking to start a “candid” conversation about diversity, and is asking residents to open their homes to others to start the effort.

The volunteer Oak Park Community Relations Commission sent out a notice last week, seeking residents of “diverse backgrounds” to offer their homes as a meeting place to talk race, diversity and inclusion. Called the “Dinner & Dialogue Project,” officials hope the effort will help residents understand diversity, and strengthen the community.

“Many residents rarely have an opportunity for honest conversations about diversity and other subjects — even among their social and professional peers,” Cedric Melton, head of the village’s Community Relations Department, said in a press release.

Anyone interested would be able to pick the dinner topic, according to the press release, and invite as many as 12 guests of diverse backgrounds. The host would start up the discussion and ask guests to share their experiences on the topic.

If you’re interested in taking part in the Dinner & Dialogue Project, call 708-358-5407 or email community@oak-park.us.

CONTACT: mstempniak@wjinc.com

Reader Comments

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OakParker for life  

Posted: April 13th, 2011 9:49 AM

Hey B from OP go a little easy on those rich folks from Oak Park as they are the people probably paying the high taxes for your walker, chair, medicine and link card.

B from OP  

Posted: April 6th, 2011 7:48 AM

Does "diversity" include persons with disabilities and special needs No! It's all about the rich folks in the best neighborhoods of OP making themselves feel less guilty for hoarding their big money So boring and tiresome and all for show. SO Oak Park.

Libbey Paul from Oak Park, IL  

Posted: April 5th, 2011 7:34 PM

I think this is intriguing initiative. As a white female, I am eager to have this discussion as I don't think Oak Park is living up to its diversity hype. Are others going to come to the table or is it too uncomfortable? Marty, has Oak Park attempted this kind of thing before? Can you republish a summary of some of those former initatives? Seems like it would be a useful starting point...

OP Resident  

Posted: April 1st, 2011 11:32 AM

Didn't Tom Barwin eliminate the Community Relations Department? The staff is all gone except for Mr. Melton. Barwin doesn't see any need for diversity at Village Hall. Only our Police Department is headed by a minority. Law, Public Works,Fire, Finance, Community Development, Human Resources,Engineering, & Code are all under the direction of white males. Barwin fired the assistant Village manager who was black while retaining an unqualified white male. His actions expose a lack of conviction.

Violet Aura  

Posted: April 1st, 2011 9:36 AM

Well this should be fun. The problem is that terms like 'diversity' are fairly sterile. They don't mean much anymore. After I moved from OP 20 years ago and lived in a working-class environment, I realized that it's not racial differences which cause the most friction but class differences. And as positive I am about effecting change in the world via dialogue, I really don't know if this can happen with the consciousness of some people.

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