Ethnic observance focuses on big picture of diversity | Item
To conclude Asian-American Pacific Islander Heritage Month, the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Council of Army Contracting Command-Redstone hosted a virtual celebration to help raise awareness and highlight contributions from Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.
David Madriaga, Board Member and Contract Specialist with Army Contracting Command-Redstone’s Post Awards Division, was instrumental in organizing the event. Madriaga’s father was a Filipino scout during World War II. He escaped the Bataan Death March where nearly 66,000 Filipino POWs walked 66 miles to prison camps.
“Our group is a small minority in America. It takes a strong, confident and thoughtful nation to take the time to recognize ourselves and our accomplishments in order to learn more about each other, ”Madriaga said.
Madriaga invited Lady Franciscar Nicolas-Kassama as guest speaker. Kassama is a professional planner for the City of Huntsville. His presentation focused on the purpose of community planning and its relationship to diversity, equity and inclusion.
Kassama was born and raised in Paranaque City, Philippines. The city is located in the Metro Manila region, which is the central hub of the country. The town of Paranaque had beaches and salt farms. As a child, she visited her aunt who worked as a secretary at Clark Air Force Base.
“I noticed how different houses, buildings and streets were organized and landscaped,” she said. “During that time, Paranaque City has grown very, very fast. The salt farms were gone and the beaches were inaccessible by the time I reached high school. The natural spaces where water collected and flowed were now impermeable surfaces. We would experience flooding in the years to come. It was my first exposure to the importance of well thought out town planning for a neighborhood. This must be done to ensure that resources are used efficiently and effectively for future generations. “
As Huntsville continues to grow, planning professionals are essential to the expansion of the community. Kassama’s job is to analyze land use policies and regulations, review proposed land development projects, and provide recommendations to the planning commission and city council based on consistency with policies and ordinances adopted. There are five key elements of planning for diverse communities: economic opportunities; transport and access; affordability of housing; health and security; and creation of places.
According to Kassama, there is a need to expand the profession of town planning to the area of issues facing people of color, in order to ensure a better quality of life in diverse communities. According to recent studies, planners have the capacity and the resources to counter the negative effects of segregation. A dual approach can be taken to disrupt these models. “The first tactic may be to invest in marginalized neighborhoods. The second approach is to provide people of color with the opportunity to live in more integrated communities. This can be achieved by planners who advocate for mixed income housing development, housing mobility and income improvement programs, ”she said.
As the Town of Rocket is expected to be Alabama’s largest city over the next several years, Huntsville rolled out a comprehensive new master plan known as the “Big Picture,” which relies on contributions from the public and various parties. stakeholders. The initiative will help shape the future of economic growth, neighborhood redevelopment, parks and greenways, transportation and the quality of life for all citizens.
Planners have referred to ESRI’s Diversity Index to help assess the mix of races and ethnicities in a region. The index ranges from zero to 100, with 100 being the most diverse. According to the Index, Huntsville’s most diverse area is the Midwest, due to its nearly equal number of white, black and Hispanic residents.
One of the outcomes of the Comprehensive Plan is the city’s updated Greenway Master Plan which consists of 312 miles of interconnected trails to include river paths, pedestrian and cycle streets, as well as paved and hiking trails. “Greenways contribute to the high quality of life for people in their community,” Kassama said.
There are plans and projects that focus on the Midwest region. These are thoughtful and well thought out plans to ensure that the region develops in a sustainable manner and continues to be a resilient community. This includes Mill Creek Choice’s neighborhood transformation plan. This is a joint effort between the City of Huntsville and the Huntsville Housing Authority, which aims to transform the area southwest of downtown into new mixed-income housing, business and retail opportunities. within walking distance and access to essential quality of life services.
As the city moves forward with these initiatives, city planners like Kassama will be hired to stand up for all of them. Together, diversity, equity and inclusion mean collective efforts to intentionally create environments of access and equity free from exclusion.
To view the full presentation, visit www.milsuite.mil/video/44295. You must have a common access card to access this website. To learn more about the big picture, visit https://bigpicturehuntsville.com.