Over the next several weeks, project partners will be going through applications for members of the planning committee for joint Race, Equity and Justice Action Plan.
The city of Newnan, Coweta County, the Coweta County School System, Senoia, Grantville, Palmetto and the Coweta County Sheriff’s Office, District Attorney’s Office and Solicitor General’s Office are partnering on the plan, with the assistance of the J.W. Fanning Institute for Leadership Development at the University of Georgia.
The goal of the process is to come up with a three-year action plan focusing on the issues of race, equality and justice.
Members of the planning committee will drive the process, and will work to reach out to members of the community, according to Newnan Assistant City Manager Hasco Craver.
There were approximately 100 applications for the committee received in November. Though the applications came from a very diverse group of Cowetans, there wasn’t enough geographic diversity in the applications, according to Craver, so the application process was reopened.
Following the second round, there were about 150 applications. Those will be pared down to about 15 for the planning committee.
Each of the project partners will review a subset of applications to create a short list; then all the partners will come together to make the final selections. All the project partners will be naming a handful of staff members to look over their group of applications, Craver said.
Once the members are named, “the committee will be in charge of all of the follow up work – focus groups, community meetings, maybe a survey, maybe interviews,” he said.
While the community members will be in charge of the project, the city and other project partners will provide support, as will the Fanning Institute.
It’s envisioned that there will be various meetings, focus groups and surveys to get input from the community. The committee will likely provide a report, based on that fact-finding.
“They’re going to go into the community,” Craver said. And that’s how the group will work to identify issues that may exist.
Then, the project partners can determine if they need to make changes to address any issues found during the process.
While the local governments will respond to issues that are found, “we believe that the community has to do this work,” Craver said. It can’t be the local governments.
For example, “it can’t be the sheriff’s office telling them how to do community building. The city is not going in and saying you need a park here. The community is going to tell us,” he said. “It has to be a different way of thinking.”
Because of the focus and format of the project, it is taking a little while to get to this point.
“We wanted to make sure that there was good representation from the community so we could get good information back,” he said. And as problems don’t develop overnight, they don’t get solved overnight, either. “It’s not a right now, flip a switch,” Craver said. “It is going to take a little bit of time and a lot of input from folks.”
One of the hardest parts will be whittling down the applications – and having to say no to so many people. But hopes are that those who applied but weren’t chosen for the committee will still be active and engaged in the process. “We’re going to want their opinions. Obviously they have an interest,” Craver said.
Craver said the city and other project partners are excited that so many people were interested.