Toward One Wausau: Community dialogues

A grassroots effort to address ethnic and cultural diversity issues – launched last summer by a small group of concerned Wausau residents – has evolved into more than 100-strong community members from many backgrounds but with one goal – to help people talk openly and listen earnestly and, where possible, find common ground for addressing the city’s diversity issues.

“Toward One Wausau’s ultimate goal is to help the community find tangible and constructive ways to work together to help us move toward a vision of one Wausau that is welcoming to all residents – regardless of differences,” said Laura Hunt, Toward One Wausau Executive Committee chair.

Want to know more about Wausau’s diversity issues? Click here to hear community residents share their experiences.

Last fall, the Toward One Wausau project held its kickoff event to gauge initial community feelings on diversity issues. Click here to read experiences of minorities in Wausau.

After a detailed concerns gathering and research period last winter by Toward One Wausau committee members (including an online community survey), many community dialogues or “deliberations” were held across the city. Nearly 200 people participated in one or more of the dialogues, with a final public deliberation set for September 18.

A public issues guide, developed as a result of the initial research into community perceptions of diversity issues, “provided useful data and served as a framework to engage people on the issues during our dialogues,” said Eric Giordano, WIPPS executive director. “The guides were helpful in starting the conversations about perceptions, attitudes and the existence of discrimination, implicit and explicit, in the community.” Trained facilitators led the dialogues, and all participants could speak freely in a civil, nonthreatening discussion.

While the dialogues have concluded for the summer, if any community organizations would like to schedule a time for their respective groups, please contact WIPPS at or call 715-261-6368.

Currently, all data that is being gleaned from notes taken from each of the dialogues will be used to find common themes and a direction for the next step in the process – a final public event later in the fall which will report findings of all the deliberative events and how to proceed ahead with tangible ways to enhance diversity and build unity in Wausau.

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