In August, as the City of Mill Valley unveiled its choice of Dr. Patricia Patton to facilitate its Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Task Force, members of the Mill Valley City Council pledged their commitment to do the long-term hard work and listening necessary to make impactful change on systemic racial inequality in Mill Valley. The task force selection process Patton spearheaded yielded 22 task force members, led by residents Naima Dean and Elspeth Mathau.
That group unveiled its full report and recommendations last week in the form of a 93-page, 28-recommendation, multiple ”wow”-inducing document that spanned affordable housing, cultural and recreational engagement, economic opportunity, education and policing, the latter of which was the focus of 13 of the 28 recommendations.
The report kicks off with a “roadmap for our common journey to transform our small community into a model of universal welcome and inclusion; encourage and support the individual and collective potential of all our residents; and honor and celebrate diversity in all its forms as a catalyst for creativity, innovation and community enrichment. Vice Mayor John McCauley called the statement “a wonderful day to start your document.”
Dean called the feverish pace of the work to build a massive list of detailed recommendations in less than two months by 22 people, many of whom had never met one another before, “a beautiful struggle … We just volunteered to fix something that needed to be fixed in this city.”
Community members and City councilmembers overwhelmingly praised the task force’s work, with several council members vowing to maintain the momentum. “The report was excellent, and probably a long time coming to Mill Valley,” Councilman Jim Wickham said.
“We’re not going to shelve this – that’s not going to happen,” Councilmember Tricia Ossa said. “We are dedicated to making sure this moves forward.”
Local resident Veronica Wilson saying, “Wow, wow, wow. I am just so blown away and so impressed by the work of the DEI Task Force – it’s really astounding. I am feeling proud to be a Mill Valley resident because of my neighbors and my fellow community members. I just cannot express my gratitude enough. We couldn’t collectively ask for a better blueprint for getting down to doing this work.”
Joel Yanowitz told the Council that the task force’s work made him feel great “about being part of a town that would commit to this.” He urged the Council to move forward “very carefully and deliberately – people with power and privilege don’t give it up easily.”
Fairfax City Councilmember Stephanie Hellman, a co-chair of her town’s DEI committee, told the group she was “really blown away” by the report. “While there is some low-hanging fruit, there is not a quick fix here.” Hellman urged the Council to set up the commission and identify ways for neighboring communities “to share learnings and work together.