InclusiveBrookline is a civic-minded community group looking for residents of diverse backgrounds to get involved in town government and to encourage Brookline’s Town Meeting and other elected and appointed decision-making bodies to pursue diverse and inclusive membership. The group organized after passage of Town Meeting Warrant Article 29 in the spring of 2019.

Article 29 — Resolution to Encourage Brookline’s Town Meeting to Support Diversity and Inclusion among its Membership — was formulated as a result of Brookline’s Office for Diversity, Inclusion and Community Relations 2018 survey of diversity on town commissions, committees and boards, including Town Meeting. The survey found these bodies are not demographically inclusive or representative of the town overall. Therefore, Article 29 resolved that Town Meeting urge inclusivity as an important aspect of deciding membership of committees to the extent possible. It also resolved that the ODICR continue to carry out a confidential annual survey of diversity to ascertain progress made.

InclusiveBrookline has identified three key areas on which to focus their outreach:

• Increase townwide civic engagement and voter turnout.

• Promote inclusive recruitment within the structure of town government. for Town Meeting, town boards/commissions/committees and townwide elected positions.

• Ensure inclusion, equity and the equality of all voices within town government.

For the first key area, getting out the vote/civic engagement, two sub-groups are focusing on reaching registered voters to vote in local elections and engaging more residents in grassroots initiatives/increasing civic understanding in schools, and improving communication between Town Meeting members and neighbors.

For the second key area, promoting inclusive recruitment, subgroups are addressing possible barriers to participation and methods to educate and motivate Brookline residents to engage. Examples include writing warrant articles to provide funding for childcare and transportation for meetings, and identifying organizations that serve underrepresented groups that can be vehicles for targeted outreach.

For the third key area, ensuring equal voices, subgroups are forming to help the newcomers to town government feel good about participating and continue to stay involved. Examples include identifying potential partners for development of Town Meeting training materials, which could include video and online modules and establishing a Town Meeting mentorship program task force.

Outreach by InclusiveBrookline volunteers to groups in town, such as the League of Women Voters, is helping them achieve their goals. For instance, the League has just published “Brookline Close-Up,” a booklet to inform residents about the structure and history of Brookline’s government. Another booklet, “How to Run for Local Office,” is available at lwvbrookline.org. The league sponsors a “How and Why to Run for Local Office” workshop that focuses mainly on running for Town Meeting. This workshop could provide a foundation for further in-person and print or visual tools to expand outreach.

By intentionally exploring ways to reach residents, to engage voices, to create a shared sense of place and mutual respect, InclusiveBrookline hopes to meet the current, diverse needs of the town. And the group wants your help. Please contact inclusivebrookline@gmail.com.

The League is a nonpartisan organization that encourages informed and active participation in government and that works to influence public policy through education and advocacy.