The South Orange/Maplewood Community Coalition on Race (CCR) gave a presentation on its activities and future plans at Tuesday's Maplewood Township Committee.
The CCR is producing a virtual video tour to market the two towns, which will partially replace the actual tours it has conducted since it its founding in 1997, said program director Audrey Rowe. She said the demand for the tours has dropped over the years as homebuyers have turned to online house hunting.
The organization is launching a home improvement loan program to provide funds to neighborhoods with higher rates of ordinance violations, to assist residents with making improvements to their properties, Rowe said.
In addition, the CCR is piloting a Civic Engagement Institute to provide training and workshops to residents in return for their volunteer service to the community. "We think we can do a better job in this area," said CCR board chairman Fred Profeta, in terms of drawing more people of color to civic life in the community.
The CCR will host Conversations on Race: How Are We Doing? on Wednesday, May 15 at 7:30 p.m. at Morrow Memorial Church in Maplewood, a public forum for community members to let the CCR know their opinions on the organization's work and programs.
"We want to receive all kinds of comment [both] positive and negative..." said Profeta. "It's time to go back to the public and see what the public thinks of what we're doing and what we should be doing."
Profeta continued, "No matter what happens, we will never change our mission, which is stable racial integration and full inclusivity, but we can always change programs and tactics."
He also said while the community is "well integrated" in terms of African American and white residents, it is less successful at attracting Asians and Hispanics, as opposed to some neighboring towns such as West Orange.
CCR executive director Nancy Gangier gave a report on recent events and programs.
In other business, the committee voted 4-1 to pass an ordinance to allow the Maplewood Public Library to serve alcohol at certain designated events. Committeeman Marlon K. Brownlee voted against the ordinance.