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Focus groups will be facilitated over Zoom or people can fill out an anonymous survey.

The Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Task Force provided the Lake Oswego City Council with two main methods for conducting focus group conversations with community members about barriers that prevent a person from serving on one of the city's boards or commissions, or for applying to work at the city.

The DEI Task Force will send out letters informing people of opportunities to register for a virtual focus group conversation or a link to an online survey as an alternative if someone cannot meet during the specified times. The survey will also be an alternative for people who don't wish to share their experiences in a group setting.

All information will be kept anonymous.

During the July 21 city council meeting, the council directed the DEI Task Force to move forward with community outreach and focus group strategies — including an option for people to chat privately over the phone with the facilitator if there's a need.

The task force plans to design flyers and publications, and reach out to businesses, churches, and neighborhoods to spread awareness about the survey people can fill out through Survey Monkey.

They will also identify people who live, work, play or run businesses in Lake Oswego and send out invitations for participation in focus groups. City councilors can also suggest citizens who they think should engage in a focus group.

The focus groups would consist of 10 to 15 people and would be conducted over a two-hour Zoom meeting with a facilitator. Some DEI Task Force members who have volunteered will act as facilitators along with Bill de la Cruz, the group's current facilitator.

Each week the groups will focus on a different topic: human resources, facilities, youth, community engagement and boards and commissions. There will be designated questions for each topic.

Councilor John LaMotte asked about DEI Task Force members' experience with facilitating.

De la Cruz said the people who are helping facilitate would have training in sentence structure and ways to deepen conversations. He said every group would have the same set of questions. Having multiple facilitators will allow the task force to meet with more people.

"I had the pleasure of looking at the applications as they came in, and I feel very strongly that there is not a person on the task force that could not more than successfully complete any part of this program," Council President Jackie Manz said. "I am duly impressed with the amount of work that's been done by the task force and by Bill de la Cruz in a very condensed amount of time during this time of COVID and racial injustice."

Councilor John Wendland asked when the council would receive feedback on the boards and commissions interview process. DEI Task Force members observed the interviews that took place earlier this month.

De la Cruz said the task force members would reflect on their observations at their next meeting before reporting back to the council.

LaMotte expressed a desire for the task force to come before the council with their feedback in September while the topic is fresh in everyone's' minds.

Wendland also wondered if, as part of the questions, people could include when their experience occurred.

"Sometimes people have been around for a long, long time and they go back to their long, long time ago experiences," Wendland said. "And others are more current and (we should) try to capture to see if we've been somewhere and where are we now, and whether we've gotten better or stayed the same or gone backward," Wendland said.

Councilor Daniel Nguyen was curious if there was another avenue for people who couldn't attend the focus group and didn't want to write their experience down on paper. He wondered if a facilitator could meet with a person one-on-one if they requested that method.

De la Cruz said if that's needed, he'd consider meeting with people while socially distancing or chatting over the phone.

"It is expected that representatives from the DEI Task Force will provide council an update on their preliminary findings from the focus groups and surveys by the end of October, and will present their preliminary recommendations to the city council before the end of the year," the staff report read.

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