City Council Meeting 11/13; Diversity in our community

Alta Sierra Lego Robotics Team, Lego En Fuego. Photo Destiny De La Cruz, Clovis Roundup

November 13, 2023 – The City Council meeting began with a presentation by Hmong Inc.

The new CEO/President of Hmong Inc., Dr. Toulu Thao is a retired mechanical engineer who worked for the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD) for 23 years. He spoke about the event before a group of young dancers performed a traditional Hmong dance.

The celebration will take place from December 28 to December 31, 2023 at the Fresno Fairgrounds. New to this year is that the first day of the celebration will be an international parade.

A representative for Hmong Cultural Arts and Preservation (HCAP) also spoke before presenting another young dance group.

“We are excited to preserve our culture, as we are first generation […] myself, my spouse, and my colleagues here,” said the HCAP representative.

“First generation to preserve our culture and to be incorporated into American culture. So, we are very proud and happy to be here tonight.”

Both the council and the residents of Clovis were invited to attend the Hmong New Year Celebration. 

Next, the Alta Sierra Lego Robotics Team, Lego En Fuego, gave a presentation. Each team member stood up at the podium and spoke. 

The team is participating in the “First Lego League Challenge,” and a part of the challenge is to create an innovation project. The innovation project required the team to identify a problem and figure out how to solve it. 

One of the robotics team members, Hunter, spoke about the problem they identified, “We’ve kind of noticed that cities […] have started to get […] more boring.”

The team members spoke about the lack of color throughout cities. One of the team members spoke about the psychology behind lack of color, “the broken window theory,” and more relating to the aesthetics of a city and its effects on the community. 

“We would just like to make a difference,” said Hunter. 

To solve this problem, they came up with “The Colorful World Initiative” (CWI). It’s a network, an organization, that hopes to give cities suggestions on how to make their city more colorful.

One of their suggestions is to have seasonal paintings located in the city.

One of the coaches also said, “We’d like to see that if one or more students are inspired by this idea, we’re encouraging them to actually reach out to other schools and to create a network that would expand, eventually into other counties in California, other states, and even worldwide,”

“To really kind of shed light on the fact that we need color. We need artistic inspiration and we need a child’s perspective in city planning as well.”

Mayor Ashbeck encouraged the team to connect with the city planning team to see how they could apply the Colorful World Initiative to the City of Clovis. 

After the Alta Sierra Robotics Team’s presentation, a concerned citizen named Malcolm Gibson spoke about the issue of lack of affordable housing. This seems to be a very popular issue that has been addressed by multiple Clovis residents in recent meetings.

One of the points that Gibson made was about the intersection of affordable housing and economic diversity. He spoke eloquently and passionately about the topic of affordable housing, with personal examples.

“Now, I’d like to talk about diversity. It’s something that each of you has indicated you embrace faithfully as part of the Clovis Way of Life,” Gibson said, addressing the council.

“We can agree that diversity enhances a community. Diversity does not detract or diminish one. But diversity means many things. We have ethnic and racial diversity, whose different cultural perspectives and life experiences certainly enhance any community.”

“But economic diversity is another. And just as important to have the attention and the support of the community because of the benefits it can bring too. Those benefiting from affordable housing does not indicate being less, other than how much money comes into and is available to a household,” continued Gibson.

“In my career, I’ve had the good fortune to hobnob with the highest. I’ve dined with and interviewed presidents here and abroad, but my time growing up in public housing proves something to me that I’ve carried through life.”

“The amount of money in a household did not and does not translate into the quality of the folks in that household when it comes to parenting, family, beliefs, ethics, love, and ways in which they can make the community better,” shared Gibson.

“Having a liveable, safe place to go is important to everyone.”

The City Council meeting ended with an update to the Active Transportation Plan, focusing on bike lanes. 

Destiny De La Cruz is a budding journalist with a passion for photojournalism. As a Fresno State alumni, she earned a bachelor's degree in Mass Communication & Journalism, the Film & Media Arts option with a minor in Anthropology. She has an interest in all things film, food, literature & outdoors.