Commission votes to make One Buchanan official city board

Published 8:00 am Saturday, January 23, 2021

BUCHANAN — Last year, Reader’s Digest named Buchanan “The Nicest Place in America.” Now, thanks to action taken by the Buchanan City Commission, leaders of a local organization hope the city can also be known as the “most diverse, welcoming and inclusive place in America” as well.

Last week, the Buchanan City Commission recognized One Buchanan as an official city board to increase inclusivity and recognize diversity within the city. With the action, One Buchanan committee members believe the city has taken steps to ensure diversity and inclusion remain core to the city’s identity.

“It’s important [as a city] to provide quality services to your citizens — and that means all of your citizens,” said Heather Grace, city manager and president of One Buchanan. “We need to be reaching a diverse group of people, knowing what their needs are and making sure those needs are met. We can’t do that unless we have a diverse set of voices at the table, and I think this is a great way to get our voice out there and say, ‘we want to be inclusive and embracing diversity.’”

Founded in 2017, One Buchanan is an organization aimed at promoting diversity and making Buchanan into a place that welcomes people of all races, nationalities, socio-economic statuses, religions, and sexual and gender orientations. During its life span, the group has hosted community dialogs and educational campaigns, as well as help promote a 2019 non-discrimination ordinance.

Founding member Rev. Sid Mohn said One Buchanan was inspired by similar movements in cities such as Boston and Chicago to promote unity and diversity.

“We wanted to declare that hate has no home in Buchanan,” Mohn, 72, said. “We wanted to say that we are one Buchanan that celebrates diversity and works toward unity and understanding.”

“This a way we can bring people together and educate about the history and diversity of Buchanan,” added Monroe Lemay, One Buchanan committee member. “We can be a leader and work to promote understanding and show people there is a better way.”

Newer to the committee is Patricia Robinson, superintendent at Buchanan Community Schools. As a believer in both education and diversity, he said she believes One Buchanan is an important aspect to Buchanan.

“It is always good to promote embracing marginalized groups,” she said. “Our students are going to go out into the world pretty soon, so we want to make sure they are prepared, and One Buchanan aligns very well with creating a culture of safety, diversity and support for our students.”

Following last week’s vote by the city commissioners, One Buchanan committee members said they were excited for what the future holds and hope to continue to promote the organization’s values to make Buchanan the most welcoming city it can be.

“I think this brings the city government to the table directly,” Mohn said. “I think this is another illustration of the city deepening its commitment to its values of diversity, not just in words but in structural ways.”

Going forward, Grace said the city would promote One Buchanan as a city board by advertising meetings and minutes on the city’s website. While some of the details of the city’s involvement in One Buchanan are still being ironed out, Grace said she hopes that, in the future, the city could provide some funding to the organization to aid in its outreach.

“We are really looking to expanding the accessibility and outreach and what [One Buchanan] can accomplish,” Grace said. “We want to embrace diversity if we want Buchanan to grow.”