First published in the Dec. 9 print issue of the San Marino Tribune.
The city of San Marino is looking for residents to participate in a recently created group tasked with cultivating a more inclusive community.
The Community Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Task Force is tentatively scheduled to operate from January through April 2022 and meet bimonthly for about two to three hours per session. The city is seeking residents “of all backgrounds, viewpoints and experiences who are passionate and committed to creating a unified, civic community that is reflective of the ideals of equity and inclusion for all,” according to City Manager Marcella Marlowe.
Applications to join the DEI Task Force are now open and will close Friday, though Marlowe said this week that the deadline would likely be extended. Those interested in being a member of the panel are encouraged to email email@example.com, or call (626) 300-0788.
¬The search for volunteers advances the city’s initial efforts more than six months ago, when it announced the creation of the task force to become “a more welcoming and inclusive community for all of its residents,” Marlowe said.
Though she avoided taking credit for championing the task force, Vice Mayor Susan Jakubowski was a major driver of the idea.
“Over the last few years, friends in town with roots in various Asian and Pacific Island countries began sharing experiences with me,” Jakubowski said. “These community members spoke of both residents and non-residents exhibiting intolerance, animosity and even hatred toward them. The stories increased after the appearance of the COVID virus in our country, with some of the same friends telling me they were not comfortable socially gathering in public. In March, the Atlanta spa killings occurred, involving the murders of mostly Asian employees.”
Jakubowski also explained she was further inspired by the community’s youth.
“Our San Marino Cub Scout Pack 354 did something quite remarkable,” said Jakubowski, who was positioned this week to be appointed mayor at Wednesday’s City Council meeting. “They organized a candlelight vigil in Lacy Park on March 26. I attended, and was taken by the number of people who were present and the heartfelt words spoken by the young organizers. I talked with a number of young adults from neighboring cities who participated. They wanted to tell their painful stories of racism and blame. It was an emotional evening hearing how pervasive individual experiences of hate had become.”
Following the commemoration of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month in May 2021, Jakubowski asked city staff to research what San Marino could do to create and maintain a more inclusive community, according to Marlowe. Her fellow City Council members unanimously agreed and requested that city staff research possible initiatives and provide recommendations.
Concurrently, the City Council presented a proclamation to the Chinese Club of San Marino, acknowledging its contributions to the city and beyond. Jakubowski also offered a motion, which the council unanimously approved, to form a professionally facilitated work group “to produce a vision statement and a plan to actively make San Marino an even more inclusive, diverse and welcoming community.”
“I offer great appreciation for those already stepping up to help make San Marino an even better version of itself,” she added.
Marlowe said she supports the effort, applauding the council’s actions.
“Local governments can play a key role in advancing DEI efforts, both through policy changes and through community education and awareness,” she said. “We have discovered that there are many approaches being utilized, with some on the passive end of the continuum and others on the proactive end. These issues are challenging because of the long histories of discrimination. I appreciate the council’s strong leadership on this matter and we are very proud to organize this action towards inclusion and equity within our community.”
Marlowe said the city has “retained a trained expert responsible for facilitating the task force to ensure that it is effective and action-oriented.”