Community Diversity Appreciation Teams have continued to be an important part of the Commission's fight against discrimination. The teams have been formed by community leaders around the state for the purpose of fighting discrimination locally before it happens, and to be ready to respond with action if it does happen.
There are currently 17 communities who have formed Community Diversity Appreciation Teams. The commission provides staff support to a community wishing to start a team and offers follow-up assistance as needed. A bi-monthly newsletter, Team Diversity, allows teams to share ideas and news with other teams around the state.
The teams have sponsored a variety of community projects and events, all designed to foster appreciation of diversity within each community. For example, the Sioux City Team sponsored a Diversity Day, printed a cultural calendar, worked on obtaining positive media coverage and is looking at establishment of a mediation center and at sponsoring Study Circles in the near future.
The Storm Lake Team participated in Diversity Day at the high school, sponsored diversity training for all city employees, and sold sweatshirts with the motto "celebrate diversity" in 18 languages. The Fort Dodge Team sponsored diversity training for law enforcement agencies and is also organizing Study Circles.
The issue of undocumented workers and large numbers of immigrant workers who have come to work in Iowa's meat packing plants have been the impetus for many communities to get involved. An Immigration and Naturalization Service raid on undocumented workers at a packing plant in Marshalltown was the catalyst for many of that community's activities. A brochure in Spanish about the community's service agencies was prepared and distributed to assist the new residents. The Polk County (Des Moines area) team also focused on immigration issues and on providing support to victims of hate crimes.
Community leaders realize that social and recreational activities bring people together, and several communities have developed or expanded soccer leagues which people of all nationalities have enjoyed. Another favorite activity is a community festival or celebration centered around a holiday, such as July Fourth, or a day that is important to a community's history.