Dear Urbana Residents,
Over the past few weeks the Urbana Park District staff, Board of Commissioners, Urbana Park District Advisory Committee and the Urbana Parks Foundation have witnessed critical changes taking place in America. The recent deaths of George Floyd and other African Americans that we see in the news media calls for a time of renewed reflection, listening and conversations about race and racism in our own community.
We stand together in supporting the Black Lives Matter movement. We want to be sure that our values at the UPD become more evident to all residents and visitors by our renewed focus on diversity, equity and inclusion in all that we do. We have a lot of listening, learning and growing to do before we can provide actions that are most impactful and beneficial to all underrepresented groups or individuals in Urbana.
Systemic racism, by definition, is a form of racism expressed in the practice of social and political institutions that can lead to discrimination in criminal justice, education, employment, housing, health care, political power and other areas of our society. That includes the Urbana Park District. We must insure that our role as a park and recreation agency is to make a welcoming place for all. Our motto—“You Belong Here”—is our most important mission. It is an on-going effort and a start to making a better community. However, we must be willing to lead and follow to make necessary changes that will help us meet more that mission.
How will we know if the Urbana Park District is meeting that mission? We will know when all people of color see dignity and grace here. We will know when marginalized groups and individuals tell us they feel welcome here. We will know when we attract new comers that see their cultural backgrounds reflected here. We will know because we are doing more ‘with’ people instead of ‘for’ people. We will know, because you will know and see a better Urbana.
You Belong Here!
Timothy A. Bartlett
Urbana Park District