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Taylorsville Journal

Cultural Diversity Committee making gradual progress in first year

Mar 25, 2019 03:09PM ● By Carl Fauver

By Carl Fauver | [email protected]

Just about a year ago, a group of Taylorsville residents — primarily members of a group called the American Venezuelan Association of Utah — approached the city council about forming a new community service committee to join the ranks of the budget, parks and recreation, green, public safety and other committees.

The new Cultural Diversity Committee was approved by the city council unanimously. Councilman Curt Cochran volunteered to be liaison to the committee, and Carlos Moreno was quickly elected its chair.

The group raced out with a head of steam and lots of big plans. However, the reality of volunteerism quickly settled in, as the group found it difficult to recruit new members.

“For the most part, I think committee members are happy with the progress they are making, especially in their first year,” Cochran said. “They certainly have some very big dreams (of activities and events they would like to coordinate). But the question now is, ‘How quickly can they get there?’ They are always in need of new members.”

Cochran also noted a new committee chairperson had just been elected.

“Emily Barnes has become a very active member of the committee,” he said. “She was elected chair, and I know she’s working on some plans to grow the committee.”

Barnes said the group’s first chairman, Moreno, moved out of Taylorsville, prompting the change. She claims she was the only one willing to become chair.

When asked whether she represents a particular ethnic minority, Barnes responded, “I am as white as anyone can get. But to me, cultural diversity is broader, not just about ethnicity and race. I think it also includes single parents, which is what I am.”

Barnes said she chose to become active in Taylorsville City government after attending a six-month training course, offered by the “Women’s Leadership Institute.”

According to the group’s website, “The mission of the institute is to elevate the stature of female leadership in the state of Utah. The organization was formed in January 2015 through the visionary efforts of key business leaders to address Utah’s deficiencies in the presence of women at top level corporate and political leadership.”

When her group of about 50 institute graduates finished its work, it was recognized on both the house and senate floors of the Utah State Legislature.

As part of last winter’s “Saturday with Santa: Christmas Around the World,” members of the newly created Taylorsville Cultural Diversity Committee operated a Nativity scene reenactment station. (Emily Barnes)

“I graduated in February after attending monthly training sessions in Lehi and Salt Lake,” Barnes said. “And soon after starting the course, I looked on the Taylorsville website to see what committee I might be able to serve. The Cultural Diversity Committee seemed like the best fit.”

With their committee member numbers stagnant, Barnes hopes a program operated by Salt Lake Community College can help them gain exposure and generate new volunteers.

“The college operates something called the Thayne Center, which involves community partners that support educational and cultural opportunities,” Barnes said. “(Cultural Diversity Committee members) plan to apply to become one of the center’s partners.”

The SLCC web page explains, “The purpose of the Thayne Center is to empower our college and community members to cultivate knowledge and skills necessary to affect positive change. We envision a world in which people’s basic needs are met and in which the values of equality and social justice are realized. We establish capacity-building relationships with community organizations.”

As the committee awaits word on whether it will partner with the SLCC Thayne Center, Vice Chair Adriana Thorup said they are already looking ahead to their next major activity.

“On May 4 — as part of our Cinco de Mayo celebration — we will partner with the Parks and Recreation Committee to plant trees at Millrace Park (1150 West 5400 South),” Thorup said. “That should be a great activity, and we hope to have more volunteers by then.”

In its first eight months of existence last year, the Cultural Diversity Committee:

  • Operated an informational booth at Taylorsville Dayzz
  • Distributed informational fliers at the Junior League Care Fair
  • Provided health care information at the Taylorsville Night Out Against Crime 
  • Offered dancing entertainment at the National Gang Awareness and Prevention Night
  • Hosted the Nativity scene reenactment at the “Saturday with Santa: Christmas Around the World” event

The Taylorsville Cultural Diversity Committee meets on the second Thursday of each month at 7 p.m., in the city council chambers.

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