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Small Town with Lack of Diversity Creates Meaningful Equity & Inclusion in City Services

Livingston, MT 59047, USA
The Atlas Community Team

Government Champion

City Manager

Cost

Zero upfront cost to local government

Project Status

Operational since 2021

More Reading

Source

At a Glance

Community complaints about ADA compliance and the racial injustices that marked the beginning of 2020 pushed the rural community of Livingston to examine its own inclusion and equity practices.

Problem Addressed

The rural community of Livingston, Montana is home to 7,800 with only 8.6% of residents identifying as other than caucasian. With the area's lack of cultural diversity in mind, the town knew that they needed to create more meaningful inclusion and equity. Citizen complaints about aged infrastructure and the tragic events of early 2020 made racial injustice and inequity top of mind for Livingston's community, pushing the town to begin a self-examination.

Livingston kicked off its self-examination with a 205 analysis, named after a key part of Montana law that concerns nondiscrimination requirements in access to and provision of local government services. This analysis identified inclusion and equity gaps, providing a strong blueprint for revising practices and policies.

All city departments participated in strategic planning to collaboratively settle on three goals for the Livingston Equity Project: comprehensive educational programs for staff, addressing physical barriers, and removing access barriers to city services. After identifying gaps in all areas, the town prioritized removing barriers and a plan for ongoing improvements.

Livingston, Montana used/is using Strategic Planning & Gap Analysis to address this/these challenge(s).

Solution(s) Used

To meet the Livingston Equity Project goals, city departments worked on four initiatives: employee education, access to buildings and city infrastructure, removing access barriers to city services, and demonstrating inclusion and equity.

While in-person trainings were suspended during the pandemic, Livingston ensured that all employees were receiving up-to-date training by implementing cloud-based trainings in microaggressions, creating a welcome work culture, trust and tribalism in the workplace, and bridging the millenial-boomer divide. The chief of police conducted additional trainings on ethics in law enforcement, implicit bias, and de-escalation tactics. As a result, the officers, union, and management requested and received a body camera system.

To increase building access, Livingston developed and implemented an Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) plan to identify and eliminate physical barriers to buildings. This included raising streets so that sidewalk transitions could be navigated by those with impaired mobility and altering operations in older buildings so residents can receive services on the ground level. The city also purchased a new city hall facility that is ADA compliant and located along an easily accessible bus route.

Following community feedback on how to resolve access barriers to city services, the city reviewed operations and moved several transactions to an electronic platform. Livingston also made its website ADA compliant to increase usability and communication between citizens and the government.

To demonstrate the city's work towards inclusion and equity, Livingston became one of a few communities in Montana to recognize Indigenous People's Day. The city commission also voted to convert all city contracts, documents, ordinances, and public announcements to include gender-neutral language and pronouns.

Outcomes

  1. In response to new questions about diversity and equity on the employee climate survey, 82.4% of employees responded that they believed people are treated fairly and equally
  2. Reduction in ADA complaints for building access, given increased accessibility with sidewalk increases and ground level services
  3. Less complaints against police officers, following increased training and body camera implementation.
  4. Increased collection rates on utility bills due to more seamless communication between citizens and the government

Lessons Learned

  1. City leaders have learned that the work of inclusion and equity will continue to be an ongoing process, as they work towards creating a safer, more diverse community.

Who Should Consider?

Communities looking for tangible steps in creating a more inclusive, equitable, and diverse space for their residents.

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