Team Diversity


"A newsletter for and about Community Diversity Appreciation Teams"



Volume 1, Number 6 211 E. Maple St., 2nd Fl., Des Moines, Iowa 50309-1858 Jan./Feb. 1997


Purpose of Team Diversity Newsletter: To recognize the work of community diversity appreciation teams in Iowa and to share information about teams and diversity-related ideas and resources.


Working Teams:


Storm Lake Diversity Task Force

Dale Carver (712-732-6767)


Denison Cultural Diversity Committee

Lanetta Plambeck (712-263-2164) or

Coletta Weeda (712-263-4697)


Quad Cities' Diversity and Racial Equity Roundtables and Bi-State Anti-Hate Response Team

Brenda Drew-Peeples (319-326-0717)


Tama Co. Team for Intercultural Community

Bruce Leitz (319-266-1039) or

Clarence Lippert (515-484-4811)


Polk Co. Diversity Coalition

Barbara Hug (515-263-2660)


Siouxland Diversity Coalition

Matt Boley (712-258-5137)


Racism/Race Relations Committee

Matt Boley and Connie Barrett (712-274-8678)


Webster Co. Diversity Appreciation Team

Ed O'Leary (515-576-2201)


Ames Diversity Appreciation Team

Sheila Lundt (515-239-5101)


Cedar Rapids Diversity Appreciation Team

Louise Lorenz (319-398-5036)


Iowa City Diversity Appreciation Team

Heather Shank (319-356-5022)


Marshalltown Diversity Committee

Sandy Burke (515-294-9307)


Charles City International Fellowship

Barb Hemann (515-228-1071)


Hampton Diversity Committee

Pat Sackville (515-456-5668)


Estherville Community Diversity Appreciation Team

Glenn Bohmer (712-362-3237)



What is a study circle?

The study circle is a simple process for small-group deliberation. There are just a few defining characteristics:

A study circle is comprised of 10-15 people who meet regularly over a period of weeks or months to address a critical public issue.

A study circle is facilitated by a person who is there not to act as an expert on the issue, but to serve the group by keeping the discussion focused, helping the group consider a variety of views, and asking difficult questions.

A study circle is open to many perspectives. The way in which study circle facilitators are trained and discussion materials are written gives everyone "a home in the conversation," and helps the group explore areas of common ground.

A study circle progresses from a session on personal experience (how does the issue affect me?) to sessions providing a broader perspective (what are others saying about the issue?) to a session on action (what can we do about the issue here?)

What is the Study Circles Resource Center (SCRC)?

SCRC is a nonprofit organization established in 1990 to promote the use of study circles on critical social and political issues. It is funded solely by the Topsfield Foundation, a private, nonprofit, nonpartisan foundation whose mission is to advance deliberative democracy and improve the quality of public life in the United States. SCRC operates by creating study circle organizing and discussion materials, distributing those materials free of charge to organizers of community-wide study circle programs, and providing technical assistance to these organizers.

What is a community-wide study circle program?

Study circles can be used in a variety of ways, but most study circles have occurred as part of community-wide study circle programs. These programs engage large numbers - in some cases thousands - of citizens in a community in study circles on a public issue such as race relations, crime and violence, or education. The key factor in convincing people to take part in study circles is helping them see that by participating they will actually be making an impact on the issue; through their size and their sponsorship, community-wide programs do just that.

What are the outcomes of community-wide study circle programs?

By participating in study circles, citizens gain "ownership" of the issues, a recognition that there can be a connection between personal experiences and public policies, and a deeper understanding of their own and others' perspectives and concerns. They discover common ground and a greater desire and ability to work collaboratively to solve local problems - as individuals, as members of small groups, and as voters and members of large organizations in the community. Community-wide programs also facilitate cooperation between citizens and government, both at an institutional level and at the level of parents and teachers, residents and police officers.

How do community-wide study circle programs come into being?

Typically, a single organization such as a mayor's office, a school board, or a human relations commission spearheads and staffs the project. In most communities, the organizing begins when the initial organization approaches other key organizations to build a sponsoring coalition. Most community-wide programs have 10-30 organizations as sponsors or endorsers. Grassroots organizations such as churches, neighborhood associations, and clubs often take part.

Where are community-wide study circle programs going on?

In 1992, Lima, Ohio, became the first city to create a community-wide study circle program. Since then, 19 communities have followed Lima's lead, ranging in size from Yarmouth, Maine, to Los Angeles, California. Over 80 other communities are in various stages of planning and organizing community-wide programs; the actual study circle phase of most of these programs will begin within the next year. SCRC also works with a number of national organizations that are working with the community-wide study circle model, including the National Urban League, the YWCA of the USA, the Education Commission of the States, the National Association of Human Rights Workers, the National Council of Churches, and the Alliance for National Renewal.

Study Circles Resource Center

697 Pomfret Street

P.O. Box 203

Pomfret, Connecticut 06258

(860) 928-2616, FAX: (860) 928-3713



Getting Along: Words of Encouragement. This four and one-half minute video of printed messages and music reminds all types of audiences to work and live together with open hearts and open minds. Excellent at the beginning of a meeting as a discussion starter, or perfect for an uplifting closing to a meeting. Produced by Cross-Cultural Communications, available for purchase for $49.95 by calling 800-858-4478.

Available also for loan from ICRC by calling Carol Leach at 515-281-8354 or 800-457-4416, ext. 1-8354.

ICRC's New Program on Study Circles


Goal: To promote the use of study circles on race relations.


1. Communicate the value/benefits of study circles

2. Help communities build sponsoring coalitions

3. Recruit/identify/train facilitators




1. Make study circles ICRC's 5th program

2. Distribute Study Circles Resource Center materials

3. Publish/distribute ICRC Study Circles Newsletter

4. Distribute sponsoring coalitions' minutes/materials

5. Issue press releases

6. Produce/distribute public service announcements

7. Hold Annual Study Circles Conference

8. Sponsor workshop at Faces and Voices Conference

9. Collaborate/partner with private/public organizations



1. Ask Diversity Teams to manage community-wide programs

2. Ask Local Commissions to build sponsoring coalitions

3. Ask Mayors to build coalitions

4. Assist in the formation/development of coalitions


1. Advertise for volunteer facilitators

2. Interview/Select and Maintain List of Facilitators

3. Sponsor regional facilitator training by Resource Center

4. Conduct community-specific facilitator training


Shirley Chisolm

In the huge convention hall,

we sat at round tables

listening silently.

She stood at the podium,

her hair a silver halo,

her clothes business-like,

her hands making sharp gestures,

sweeping the audience, pointing,

making fists. They were strong rocks.

Her voice was a river,

it hit hard places and flowed on.

She spoke about her life

and the people she respected.

She was measuring history,

its weights and gauges,

she was a scale,

she was a strong building,

her hands raised,

she was a triumphal arch.

Youth Workshop under the direction of Susan Gardels

The Faces and Voices of Iowa Diversity Conference

Des Moines, October 1-2, 1996

Team Diversity is published by the Iowa Civil Rights Commission.