Smart Cities Library™

An Open Letter to Nadia Kalinchuk | Program Manager for the Austin’s Office of Equity

African-American residents crossing the streets of Austin, Texas circa 1960. Source: American Statesman
African-American residents crossing the streets of Austin, Texas circa 1960. Source: American Statesman

Congratulations Nadia,

Welcome back to Texas! The City of Austin and all of its residents are fortunate to have you join Austin’s Office of Equity.

Like many other fast-growing urban centers, Austin has reached a historic tipping point precipitated and fueled by a legacy of discrimination and thrust over the edge by Austin’s rapid urbanization.

To resolve systemic obstacles that have for decades interfered and wholly arrested Austin’s capacity to address grave social and economic inequities, the City of Austin must play a much more informed, strategic, and foundational role in the conceptualization, development and equitable implementation of Austin’s future.

Research tells us that cities cannot achieve optimal growth by leaving behind a large group of citizens, e.g., persons with disabilities, people of color, LGBTQ. We also know that when you combine gender, race, and disability, the challenges we are facing may appear too big or even unresolvable. But that is not true.

Our Nation has witnessed change — from the historic victory of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to Stonewall and to the Supreme Court’s ruling that same-sex couples can marry nationwideTOGETHER WE CAN MAKE A CHANGE. 

The White House was illuminated in rainbow colors for the evening, a nod to the achievement of the gay rights movement.
The White House was illuminated in rainbow colors for the evening, a nod to the achievement of the gay rights movement.

As we move forward to 2020 and beyond, the goal must be to develop a strategic plan that cures the wounds of Austin’s past and builds and refines a citywide culture of access and inclusion where no citizen is left behind or excluded.

Imagine one day when every Austinite feels respected, valued, and purposefully included in all social, economic, cultural and political opportunities our great city has to offer — no matter their economic means, gender, color, sexuality, gender identity, disability, ethnicity, ability, age, or religion.

As you begin your journey to build a sustainable and inclusive Austin, please consider me an immediate and available resource. Moreover, call-on-me to celebrate the victories of equality, equity, and inclusion that no doubt are in your near future and mine.

With my very best,

Darren Bates

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