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Advisory Council turns from diversity to families theme.

Building on the release of its first Futures Report, the NLC Advisory Council convened at the Congress of Cities to assess the Futures Process to date and to plan its next theme around "families and neighborhoods."

The Advisory Council Chair, Ruth Messinger, President of Borough of Manhattan, New York, presidented the 1991 Futures Report on "Diversity and Governance" to the NLC Board of Directors. The Advisory Council's intention is that the report itself is an institutional vehicle for NLC. Further development of the theme and implementation through a variety of activities can be undertaken under the Board's leadership in 1992.

The 1991 Futures Report on "Diversity and Governance" was disseminated throughout Congress of Cities workshops and was available at no cost at the Publications booth in the Convention Center. Single copies of the report are available free of charge to NLC members. To obtain a copy contact the Publications Office at the National League of Cities at (202) 626-3000.

The NLC Vice President Don Fraser addressed the Council on the proposed Families futures theme for 1992. The Advisory Council discussed the shaping and focus of the topic with Fraser. They decided that what needs to be further pursued are the ways in which government can revitalize systems of community and neighborhood to sustain the family.

NLC President Glenda Hood addressed the Council and expressed great pleasure and satisfaction with the 1991 Futures Report based on the theme of Diversity which she developed when she was Second Vice President. In return she received praise from the Council for the foresight and timeliness of the topic.

Hood said that the theme of Diversity and Governance should be on the domestic agenda and that policy committees take the theme issues into consideration in their development of committee issues. She also expressed concern that the theme be carried into the institutional processes of NLC.

In terms of implementing the Diversity theme in 1992 and beyond, Council members suggested State League involvement in the dissemination of the Futures Report and special efforts at sharing the report with elected city officials and relevant municipal commissions and offices. Advisory Council members agreed to exert special efforts to ensure that the Diversity and Governance theme is institutionalized through a variety of NLC activities.

The Advisory Council members decided upon some improvements for increased participation in the Futures Process for 1992. They decided to hold off on making major changes to the process until another theme has completed the 3-year futures cycle. Some minor changes in the Congressional Cities Conference Futures forum were agreed upon to increase its accessibility and focus.

Vice President Fraser complimented the quality and depth of the "Diversity and Governance" report and stated that he would be very happy to have a similar sequence of events resulting in a comparable report on the Families topic. He explained how his thinking on the subject of Cities and Families has evolved. The shift was from viewing family problems as social service issues to seeing them as community issues. "We can't look at families without looking at the community," explained Fraser.

He discussed the differences between treating family problems with a social services approach (what he termed a "deficit model") as compared to early intervention, community involvement in the raising and nurturing of children.

Questions raised by Fraser to be considered in the shaping of the theme included the impact of the globalization of the American economy on families and the role of national welfare policies in creating difficulties for families. he emphasized the importance of community fabric in influencing outcomes for children. The key question is whether it is possible to supplement the weaker nurturing provided by some families with stronger community fabrics.

On behalf of NLC's Women in Municipal Government, Councilmember Joy Picus of Los Angeles, California, suggested the incorporation of the issue of violence in families and communities. Fraser accepted it as an important element to be considered in the development of the "Cities and Families" futures theme.

Advisory Council members overwhelmingly approved of Vice President Fraser's choice of the "Cities and Families" theme and had an extended discussion with him on his thoughts and framing of the topic. Concerns were expressed over not assuming that returning to the "traditional" family model is the answer to the problems of families, and indeed that such a recommendation may not be an appropriate one for today. A suggestion was made to explore what produces healthy individuals, and to be open to results that may not correspond with what has existed in this country's recent past.

Many Advisory Council members expressed the intention that this problem be addressed in a holistic, creative manner. The necessity of getting the message out that family problems are everybody's problems was agreed upon. Concurrently, the point was made that regional, demographic and class differences need to be taken into consideration when examining the variety of problems families in America are experiencing today.

A Future Forum on the "Families" theme will be convened by the Advisory Council at the March 1992 Congressional Cities Conference.
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Copyright 1991 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:National League of Cities
Author:Barnes, William; van der Merwe, Shelley
Publication:Nation's Cities Weekly
Date:Dec 16, 1991
Previous Article:Secretary Lamar Alexander huddles with NLC leaders.
Next Article:Small cities work to become more visible.

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