With rising divisiveness permeating many aspects of society and culture, residents of La Verne took it upon themselves to create a Committee on Cultural Awareness and Social Inclusion (CASI), which was initially formed in 2019. The Committee aims to provide a space for La Verne residents to educate and connect with fellow community members. After learning about CASI and recognizing its potential positive impact, in August 2020 the La Verne City Council unanimously voted to participate in CASI and support its efforts to become more accessible to the La Verne community.
“Since the beginning of our partnership with the City of La Verne, we have benefitted from alternative points of view thanks to the participation of City Councilmembers Wendy Lau and Muir Davis, as well as City Manager Bob Russi and Police Chief Nick Paz,” said CASI Chair Gilbert Ivey. “We are also hoping that this growing relationship with the City may also lead to expanded interest and involvement in CASI activities and future programs.”
CASI is looking to start their “Join Us For Dinner” program in the next month to focus on building the relationships between La Verne residents through Zoom dinners. Residents will be encouraged to “leave politics at the door” and get to know their neighbors on a personal level. The dates of the dinners are forthcoming and will be posted on the Committee’s website and Facebook page.
“Through this committee, we’re really hoping to help the La Verne community build bridges across political divides,” said CASI Vice Chair, Julia Wheeler. “COVID has really challenged our committee to think outside the box on how to foster inclusion in a socially distanced society, but what better way to do that than over a community meal, even if it is virtual.”
The committee also hosts an internship program, where students are responsible for helping with the website and social media, and offers a community support form for residents to report cases of discrimination to help the committee gather local data and trends. Residents of all races, ages, religions and abilities are welcome to participate in and be involved with CASI. The committee meets monthly on the first Wednesday of the month at 5 PM. Residents are welcome to submit questions or ideas for the Committee through email or Facebook.
Any questions regarding the committee and its activities can be directed to CASI Vice-Chair Julia Wheeler at JWheeler@LaVerne.edu. Information may also be obtained on the Committee’s website at DiverseLaVerne.org.