Bridging the Gap
"As one of the fastest growing regions in the nation, we are in the perfect position to become the model of equitable crime prevention and economic growth."
-T.M. Franklin Cownie, Mayor
Bridging the Gap (BTG) is a project that seeks to create collaborative solutions for a growing city. BTG works to achieve long-term community change that is systemic, sustainable, equitable, and inclusive.
Focus on the following areas reveal opportunities to make Des Moines a more equitable and sustainable city:
- Community & Government Relations
- Refugee & Immigrant Rights
- LGBTQ+ Rights
As we continue to explore the issues concerning our communities, we hope that "bridging the gap" in these areas will help all residents of Des Moines.
Community and Government Relations
Efforts to improve Community and Government Relations began with the Safety and Justice Dialogues that took place over three phases. Those phases are outlined below.
Part 1: Safety & Justice Dialogues
The Des Moines Civil and Human Rights Department and Police Department joined forces through Safety and Justice dialogues to develop ideas to reduce violence and strengthen community relations with law enforcement. This approach involved local city, county and state government representatives, business leaders, service providers, and community members.
The ensuing dialogues (modeled after the National Issues Forum) bridged understanding around police efforts to reduce violence in our communities.
The dialogues generated hundreds of ideas that indicated key areas of concern. Combining these ideas with the results of the Refugee and Immigrant Advisory Subcommittee (RIAS) Dialogues and the LGBT Advisory Council's (LGBTAC) Listening Sessions, the Department then developed nine research-based strategies to reducing violence and increasing socio-economic opportunities. The strategies were showcased at “The Reveal”, a public, art-gallery style event where facilitators explained each strategy’s potential impact on Des Moines. Residents reviewed the ideas, discussed positives and negatives, and voted for the ones they believed addressed their concerns and reflected their vision for effective, long-lasting improvement in community-government relations.
Three Reveal events took place throughout the Des Moines area: Central Library, Latino Fest, and Grubb YMCA. The hundreds of votes cast indicated which issues and their corresponding strategies should be prioritized to address community concerns. These were then further developed into policy recommendations and advanced to city council for adoption.
The voting process allowed the Commission to identify and develop four long-term plans with corresponding action steps. The recommendations focused on: quality affordable housing, economic stability, integrated and diversified city workforce, and ongoing mandatory training for all city staff. The Commission also included recommendations for immediate implementation that would positively impact community and government relations.
The Commission presented these recommendations to City Council at the annual Joint Council-Commission meeting. With widespread community support, the Council agreed to assess their implementation with the City Manager’s Office and Legal Department to ensure the policy recommendations are achievable.
Refugee & Immigrant Advisory Subcommittee
LGBT Advisory Council
The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Advisory Council (LGBTAC) is a commission subcommittee that includes members of the LGBTQ+ community and allies that raise awareness, educate, and advocate for the civil rights of the LGBTQ+ residents and visitors in Des Moines to ensure city department services are equitable and inclusive. LGBTAC conducted two listening sessions with over 40 community members and identified barriers to advancement that are also incorporated in the Bridging the Gap Recommendations.