Toward One Wausau

A Dialogue on Community Diversity

Toward One Wausau brings together community members from all walks of life to talk openly, listen earnestly and act in unity to make the greater Wausau area a safe, welcoming and attractive place for a diverse people.

What is Toward One Wausau?

As the Wausau-area population has become more diverse, people here have had more opportunities to learn about cultures, lifestyles and views different from their own. At the same time, the community has been exposed to real ethnic and cultural divisions, with deep roots that rarely are acknowledged, much less understood. This project aims to help people talk openly and listen earnestly—and, where possible, to find common ground for action around addressing these complex issues in a constructive way.

Hundreds share their feedback at our community dialogues!

From September 2017-October 2018, more than 600 community members gave valuable feedback at listening sessions, story circles and deliberative dialogues. These conversations were designed to help people come to reasoned public judgment about the problems associated with an increasingly diverse community—and tensions that have arisen around perceptions of whether or not our community is a welcoming place for people of different ethnic, cultural, religious, gender, socioeconomic and other backgrounds. Ultimately, the purpose was to help the community find tangible and constructive means of working together toward a vision of one Wausau that is welcoming to all residents regardless of differences. Read the issue guide here.

Key findings revealed at Toward One Wausau ‘Culmination, Evaluation, Celebration’ on October 20

After over a year of research gathering, an online survey and community conversations across the city of Wausau, it was time to reveal the findings and ask community members for next steps in this process. On October 20 a “Culmination, Evaluation and Celebration” event was held at Northcentral Technical College in Wausau, complete with ethnic food, Hmong and Hispanic dancers and a special “Music with a Message” program by David Deon Stuart’s Soul Inspirations -featuring Chris Norfleet. Both Stuart and Norfleet served on Toward One Wausau’s Executive Committee. Click here for key findings overview.

Next steps for One Wausau.

The next steps for the “One Wausau” coalition are picking up steam! After more than a year of community dialogues, information gathering and deciding on concrete action steps for change, we’re ready for the next steps. Join us in our goal of greater unity for the Wausau area. The next two events will occur on March 21, and 22. Both events will be held in the UW Center for Civic Engagement – 625 Stewart Ave. – Wausau, WI. The March 21 event will go from 6-8 p.m., and the March 22 event will occur from 8-10 a.m. Watch for updates in the media, on the WIPPS Toward One Wausau Web page and in social media announcements. We welcome your involvement, feedback and continued interest in this important initiative.

If you have any questions on Toward One Wausau, or would  like to become involved, email or call 715-261-6368.

Click here to register

Snapshots from September Final Deliberation

Engaged Communication

Strong Speakers

Positive Meetings

Constructive Groups

Organized Planning

Sharp Ideas

Toward One Wausau – in the news

We still need to be able to talk about difficult issues in civil ways. And, to be able to express differences and similarities, we may discover that we have more things in common than we thought before we started.

Richard Block
Pastor at Mt. Cavalry Lutheran Church

Toward One Wausau Components

Gathering & Research

This phase provides opportunity for members of the community to express their concerns and ideas around diversity and ethnic tensions through public events, interviews, and an online survey (in English, Hmong and Spanish). In addition, we will conduct research to obtain local, state and national statistics on arrests, convictions, progress in school, poverty indicators and other variables as they relate to diverse populations.

Naming & Framing

In this phase we will collate the concerns and research gathered in order to name and frame the issue. The goal is to create an “issue guide” that will be used during the deliberative process. With robust concerns gathering, the guide will create awareness around issues of diversity and reflect participants’ underlying values. Ultimately it will be used by trained facilitators to help the community deliberate the merits of various possible actions.

Community Deliberations

We will work with a variety of partners to hold a series of public deliberations across the community to achieve broad and diverse participation. Working with trained facilitators, residents will consider relevant facts and values from multiple points of view; listen to one another in order to think critically about the various options before them and consider the underlying tensions and tough choices inherent to complex public issues; and seek to come to some resolution for action in the form of reasoned public judgment.

Wrap Up & Report

We will collect data from each deliberative event in the form of notes from the conversations as well as from a post forum participant survey. Results of the deliberations will be presented at a public wrap up and celebration event which will review main themes and takeaways from the dialogues and present potential action items that the community has identified.

Planning & Implementation

With a set of potential actions identified, the next phase involves inviting interested community groups and individuals to work on prioritizing actions. We will assist the community in creating successful action plans in order to clarify goals, objectives, action steps, timelines, participants, and resources. Individual participants and community partners have indicated a desire to see productive actions taken as a result of this project.

Measurement & Evaluation

WIPPS and other partners will commit to helping measure and evaluate the effectiveness of implementation. We will document the process through written reports, pictures, and video with an eye toward capturing the strengths and weaknesses of the process, examining how individual perspectives on ethnicity and culture have changed, and measuring the impact of proposed action.

Wausau’s a small town that got infused with people of different cultures and backgrounds. There’s been like a wall of fear built up that needs to be brought down. When people see me, they see a 6-foot-5, 300-pound black man, and they don’t know how to take me. I smile and show myself as friendly to try to break down those barriers. Then it totally changes. The fear is gone.

North Carolina native who moved to Wausau in 2015