Bridging the Gap
Bridging the Gap is a project championed by Mayor Frank Cownie to discuss solutions for civil & human rights issues with people across Des Moines. This ongoing project is designed to connect government, business and community leaders, and residents to work together to solve issues that are essential to a thriving city.
- Community & Government Relations
- Refugee & Immigrant Rights
- LGBTQ+ Rights
- Breaking Bread Building Bridges
Des Moines continues to gain traction as one of the fastest-growing regions in the Midwest, which is why it’s important we prepare for the needs of our changing population. Bridging the gap will help all our communities thrive as they grow. When the community is involved in the solution-making process, we create paths to a more equitable Des Moines.
Safety & Justice Community Dialogues
The Des Moines Police Department and Civil & Human Rights Department hosted multiple public discussions on how our community should reduce violence with help from the National Issues Forums Institute, a nationally recognized organization.
These group discussions generated creative ideas on how we in greater Des Moines can reduce violence and strengthen community relations with law enforcement.
We spoke to over 200 members of the Greater Des Moines Community and generated hundreds of ideas. We narrowed these ideas into three key areas of focus with nine accompanying strategies. The community has been invited to several “Reveal” events to discuss and cast their vote for the ideas they believe will make the most effective, long-lasting change. Once consensus has been reached, the highest voted recommendations will be presented to the Des Moines City Council for consideration.
Refugee & Immigrant Advisory Sub-Committee
One aspect of the Bridging the Gap project are the DSM ReImagined Dialogues. These dialogues, a joint project of the Des Moines Civil and Human Rights Commission and the Refugee and Immigrant Advisory Subcommittee, will host conversations with key demographics in the Des Moines area to assess the viability and access of city resources. This is a first step to a collaborative input process meant to develop recommendations critical to improving city services.
The Refugee & Immigrant Advisory Subcommittee was created to provide assistance and advice to our commission regarding issues affecting refugee and immigrant communities. Areas of focus include:
- Secure equal rights and opportunities.
- Incorporate the refugee/immigrant community into Des Moines.
- Provide input on the development of a city immigrant and refugee commission.
- Stimulate interaction between the native born and immigrant residents of Des Moines.
- Celebrate the culture of refugee and immigrant communities.
- Educate the public about subjects related to foreign-born persons.
- Advocate for the civil and human rights of refugee and immigrant persons.
- Inform the refugee and immigrant communities about the Des Moines Civil & Human Rights Commission.
LGBT Advisory Council
One aspect of the Bridging the Gap Project is the DSM ReImagined Dialogues. These dialogues, a joint project of the Des Moines Civil and Human Rights Commission and Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Advisory Council, will host listening sessions and survey members of the LGBTQ+ community in the Des Moines Area to assess the visibility of and access to city resources. This is a first step to a collaborative input process meant to develop recommendations critical to improving city services.
Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender (LGBT) Advisory Council of the Des Moines Civil and Human Rights Commission is comprised of members who are active in the community and possess demonstrated experience and knowledge in a variety of issues that may be advanced by the committee. These issues include: youth, aging, AIDS/HIV, anti-bullying and violence, civil rights, gender identity, hate-crimes, bisexual visibility, faith-based advocacy, education, intersex, and health issues. Our goal is to achieve diversity and representation.
The LGBT Advisory Council will:
- Provide assistance and advice to the Des Moines Civil and Human Rights Commission regarding discrimination against LGBTQ+ communities with a focus on equal access to employment, housing, municipal practices and public accommodations.
- Advocate for the civil rights of LGBTQ+ persons.
- Educate the LGBTQ+ communities about the Des Moines Civil and Human Rights Commission.
Community & Police Dialogues
Community members are encouraged to attend one of the scheduled Reveal events. This art-gallery style event will feature the ideas formulated in the dialogues and host discussion on their potential impacts in the city of Des Moines. A vote will take place for the most popular ideas for presentation to city-council.
Bridging the Gap Part 1: Safety & Justice Community Dialogues:
These dialogues are a joint project of the Des Moines Police Department and Civil & Human Rights Department, and utilized a discussion packet entitled “Safety and Justice: How Should Communities Reduce Violence?” from the nationally recognized organization, National Issues Forums Institute.
These solution-focused small group dialogues (of up to 16 persons) were designed for the Greater Des Moines Community to develop creative ideas on how we as a community can reduce violence and strengthen community relations with law enforcement.
The small group discussion dates took place on May 1st, 3rd, 4th, 6th, 10th, 14th, 16th, and 18th.
Bridging the Gap Part 2: The Reveal:
We spoke to over 200 members of the Greater Des Moines Community and generated hundreds of ideas. We narrowed these ideas into 3 key areas of focus with 9 accompanying strategies. These ideas will be presented in a community-wide art-gallery style event and will feature art that envisions its impact on Des Moines. Community members are invited to attend to view what their idea could look like in practice, further discuss the pros and cons of implementing the idea, and finally, cast their vote for the one they believe will make the most effective, long-lasting change. Once consensus has been reached, the next phase involves a townhall-style presentation to city council of the highest voted recommendations.