Is Maplewood really inclusive ... or just marketing?

vdfam

Maplewoodians regularly congratulate themselves as a bastion of inclusion. Is this an accurate assessment, wishful thinking, or marketing?

Spurring the question:

We talk about racial diversity, but have a lawsuit against the school district alleging racial bias, and we had a recent scandal involving the police. Add in slang references such as "Maplewood, Maplegood, & Maplehood" and there's cause to wonder how the statistical diversity plays out in community.

Also ... The town painted a crosswalk recently to herald Maplewood as friendly to the LGBT+ community. A wonderful gesture in my opinion (really ... no sarcasm, so don't start). There is so much anecdotal evidence of the hospitality of Maplewood to people of all sexual identities. Still, this was a symbolic act.

The Human Rights Campaign lists twelve NJ towns/cities as especially hospitible to the LGBT+ community, but Maplewood is not on the list. An NJ.com article speaks to Maplewood's reputation, but notes these other towns have specific programs & policies protecting citizens, hence they make the list, but we do not.

Having lived here eleven years, I have observations of my own, but I wonder ... How real is our inclusiveness?


Like  
Amy

Just to be clear, it looks like the Human Rights Campaign is not editorially driven;  Its  advertiser driven, so the towns listed there are advertisers and paying to be on that list. 


Like  1 Like
vdfam
HoBo said:
Just to be clear, it looks like the Human Rights Campaign is not editorially driven;  Its  advertiser driven, so the towns listed there are advertisers and paying to be on that list. 

 Okay ... I re-read an nj.com article that listed twelve towns and cited the HRC piece and linked their page. The distinction you make is important for both the article and HRC.


Like  
DaveSchmidt

Why Maplewood isn't on the list (from the Human Rights Campaign's 2017 Municipal Equality Index booklet):

How Cities Were Selected for Rating

The 2017 Municipal Equality Index rates 506 municipalities of varying sizes drawn from every state in the nation.

These include: the 50 state capitals, the 200 largest cities in the United States, the five largest cities or municipalities in each state, the cities home to the state’s two largest public universities (including undergraduate and graduate enrollment), 75 cities and municipalities that have high proportions of same-sex couples and 98 cities selected by HRC and Equality Federation state groups members and supporters.

These 75 cities with highest proportions of same-sex couples are drawn from an analysis of the 2010 Census results by the Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law which ranked the 25 large cities (population exceeding 250,000), 25 mid-size cities (population between 100,000 and 250,000), and 25 small cities (population below 100,000) with the highest proportion of same-sex couples. To be consistent, we rated all twenty-five of these small cities, even though some of these small “cities” are in fact unincorporated census-designated places. In that case, we rated the laws and policies of the applicable incorporated local government (the entity actually rated, often the county, will be clearly indicated).

Significant overlap between these categories of cities brings the total number of cities rated in the 2017 MEI to 506. In 2012, the MEI rated 137 cities; in 2013, 291; in 2014, 353; and in 2015 we rated 408 cities. As the publication goes on the number of cities rated will continue to increase.


Like  1 Like
DaveSchmidt

In other words, we weren't invited.


Like  1 Like
lanky

My block is pretty damn inclusive, tolerant and diverse.


Like  2 Likes
Scully
lanky said:
My block is pretty damn inclusive, tolerant and diverse.

Same here - and I’m talking racially, ethically, and in gender fluidity (not just talking binary here). 

I moved here from Millburn (and am a lifetime Essex county resident) for the diversity specifically.


Not perfect but a work in progress... 


Like  2 Likes
joan crystal

Things are getting better for the Senior population, though we are not fully there yet.  The age friendly initiative the town started focusing on a few years ago is working and shows an effort in inclusion where ageism is concerned. 


Like  1 Like
Alex

Interesting thread. We also moved here for the “advertised” presumed diversity but were struck recently by how few people (especially white people) showed up at the recent XRoots festival in Maplewood, which was designed to be a celebration of our diversity. Afterwards, we were therefore speculating openly about whether Maplewood is “proudly diverse” in reputation only (but less in reality) (?)

- Alex


Like  
RealityForAll
alexj said:
Interesting thread. We also moved here for the “advertised” presumed diversity but were struck recently by how few people (especially white people) showed up at the recent XRoots festival in Maplewood, which was designed to be a celebration of our diversity. Afterwards, we were therefore speculating openly about whether Maplewood is “proudly diverse” in reputation only (but less in reality) (?)
- Alex

 First time, I heard about XRoots Festival was your posting here on MOL.  Thanks for letting us all know about the  XRoots Festival.


Like  
Ridley

Maplewood rec dept now puts out an email of all the events going on in town. Definitely monthly, sometimes weekly if there’s a lot happening.


Unfortunately for me, XRoots coincided with the SOMA Artists Studio Tour and the Jersey ‘Prov event I co-produced all happening on the same day. That was also a hot day and I imagine anyone with kids and a membership would have been at the pool.


Like  2 Likes
joan crystal

I spent three and a half hours at the X Roots Festival staffing the Senior Tent and did not have the same reaction as the above poster.  What I saw was a good mix of persons of all ages and skin tones.  There was quite a bit of information available about the X Roots Festival in advance of the event; but, you may have had to be somewhat connected to receive it.  MOL featured it in their weekly e-mailer and in their events section.  If you don't subscribe to and read the e-mailer and choose to just visit the discussion section of the site, you may have missed it.  The town included the X- Roots festival in the emailing referred to by an above poster but if you have not signed up for cultural affairs notifications, you may not have received it.  There was mention of the festival on various Facebook pages and groups.  If you don't like or belong to these sections of Facebook, you may have missed it there too.  CCR, which sponsored the event, and some of the participating and sponsoring organizations had information on the X-Roots festival on their website as well.  Finally, I saw a number of lawn signs advertising the event as I walked about town.  Not sure what else the organizers could have done to spread the word.  As a poster indicated above, there were a number of other activities going on that day which could have limited the number of persons attending.  There is so much going on in town this time of year that finding an exclusive date for an event is becoming extremely difficult.


Like  
annielou

Sure but Maplewoodstock will be packed as usual no matter what


Like  
Runner Guy

I think the OP may be defining inclusivity in terms of being welcoming to historically marginalized groups, but I do not find people in SOMA, or the Northeast as a whole, to be as friendly as people who live in the South and the Great Plains.  People aren't necessarily mean to others, but I think there's less friendliness towards individuals.

I know that this statement will be controversial, but in terms of welcoming new housing, we are not that inclusive either.  Most redevelopment projects are controversial and drawn out.  I'm sure we all recall the epic battle over the Post House/Clarus next to Maplewood's train station.    

In an aesthetic sense, there is a deep conservativism in this community.  There are a lot of people who are afraid of shadows.


Like  
sprout
Runner_Guy said:
I do not find people in SOMA, or the Northeast as a whole, to be as friendly as people who live in the South and the Great Plains.  People aren't necessarily mean to others, but I think there's less friendliness towards individuals.

When I was a Rutgers student, a 20-something in fatigues with a thick southern accent was saying 'hello' to students who were walking by him. He was being ignored, and as I walked by I heard him say "Why doesn't anyone say 'hello' around here?"  

So, I stopped and explained to him that the Northeast/NYC area has too high a density of people to continuously greet everyone, and that those who say 'hello' along the walkways are usually either sales people or proselytizers trying to convert students to some sect of Christianity. So, we are accustomed to ignoring rather than greeting in return.


Like  2 Likes
mrincredible

sprout, what was his response? Did he understand? Did he shake his head and wander off?



Like  
sprout
mrincredible said:
sprout, what was his response? Did he understand? Did he shake his head and wander off?

 He understood, and seemed to no longer feel offended.


Like  1 Like
ina

The HRC does a poor job of representing the gay community imo. Historically they've endorsed anti-choice politicians because they "judged them exclusively on gay issues." Apparently bodily sovereignty is a gay issue ONLY when it applies to men. 


Like  
LOST
ridski said:
Maplewood rec dept now puts out an email of all the events going on in town. Definitely monthly, sometimes weekly if there’s a lot happening.


Unfortunately for me, XRoots coincided with the SOMA Artists Studio Tour and the Jersey ‘Prov event I co-produced all happening on the same day. That was also a hot day and I imagine anyone with kids and a membership would have been at the pool.

 I was at XRoots for a very short time but had to leave because of the humidity. 


Like  
kthnry
Runner_Guy said:

I know that this statement will be controversial, but in terms of welcoming new housing, we are not that inclusive either.  Most redevelopment projects are controversial and drawn out.  I'm sure we all recall the epic battle over the Post House/Clarus next to Maplewood's train station.    
In an aesthetic sense, there is a deep conservativism in this community.  There are a lot of people who are afraid of shadows.

I agree 100%. We welcome diversity as long as the new arrivals can afford housing prices that are going through the roof thanks to restrictive zoning and opposition to any measure that increases the amount of housing. The "diversity" claim seems increasingly hollow when an entry-level house costs $350,000+. We got ours; to hell with everyone else.

!!YIMBY!!


Like  3 Likes
Sally

There were a lot of competing events on the day of the X Roots festival.


Like  1 Like
krugle

khenry, Right as always.

I think a lot of it is show, which I find very tiring.  

Remember the deleveling of the schools?  That ended any illusion I had about tolerance in SOMA. Many didn't want their kids learning with the "unwashed">



Like  
Alex
joan_crystal said:
I spent three and a half hours at the X Roots Festival staffing the Senior Tent and did not have the same reaction as the above poster.  What I saw was a good mix of persons of all ages and skin tones.  There was quite a bit of information available about the X Roots Festival in advance of the event; but, you may have had to be somewhat connected to receive it.  MOL featured it in their weekly e-mailer and in their events section.  If you don't subscribe to and read the e-mailer and choose to just visit the discussion section of the site, you may have missed it.  The town included the X- Roots festival in the emailing referred to by an above poster but if you have not signed up for cultural affairs notifications, you may not have received it.  There was mention of the festival on various Facebook pages and groups.  If you don't like or belong to these sections of Facebook, you may have missed it there too.  CCR, which sponsored the event, and some of the participating and sponsoring organizations had information on the X-Roots festival on their website as well.  Finally, I saw a number of lawn signs advertising the event as I walked about town.  Not sure what else the organizers could have done to spread the word.  As a poster indicated above, there were a number of other activities going on that day which could have limited the number of persons attending.  There is so much going on in town this time of year that finding an exclusive date for an event is becoming extremely difficult.

As someone who had a booth, I have to say that the consensus felt like it was pretty surprisingly sparsely attended. Of course, this could also certainly have had to do with advertising, and even the nature of the event itself ( I personally, for example, think that they needed much more food options of any sort - and preferably multicultural ones given the nature of the event). But given how packed Maplewoodstock always is (which occupies the exact same location), it still also somehow felt like a reflection of a lesser interest in actually participating in events which celebrate diversity, despite Maplewood’s reputation.

- Alex


Like  
apple44

Comparison to Maplewoodstock isn't a bad point, but folks should remember that Maplewoodstock started as a very small event - it took time and a lot of people's efforts for it to grow.

My perception of SOMa's "inclusiveness" is that people in the two towns seem to generally be more progressive and inclusive than most towns surrounding NYC, which is at least a start. And that probably is the imprecise measure that most people make, and not some unrealistic expectation of perfection or being #1 on some published ranking.

I don't know how you precisely measure inclusiveness - and suspect that you can't - but am not sure that attendance at events is the best metric. 

My experience when I moved here 20 years ago is that when you ask people why they moved here, some pointed to diversity and inclusiveness as #1, others placed it farther down on their list, and for others it was icing on the cake but not really a deciding factor. I suspect that's still the case.

I do think we are a diverse community, but part of that diversity is recognizing that people have different causes and issues that are top of mind for them.


Like  
Alex
apple44 said:

...I don't know how you precisely measure inclusiveness - and suspect that you can't - but am not sure that attendance at events is the best metric. 


I guess it was just the nature of the specific event (the X-Roots Festival) that made it feel relevant. It was, after all, intended for the members of Maplewood and the surrounding communities to come out and proudly celebrate our racial and cultural diversity, and it felt like there were relatively few who bothered to come...It just felt like it there was one event designed to truly see the entire diverse demo of Maplewood all come out and participate together at one time, that would have perhaps been it (vs. something like Maplewoodstock which always felt to me much less diverse)...


Like  
apple44

My experience is that the most attended local events have a specific thing as a draw - a parade or a duck race (Memorial Day, which also is an extra day off for many), fireworks or a circus (July 4th, also an extra day off), specific music acts (Maplewoodstock), food trucks (S.O. food truck festival), a movie on a summer evening. Attracting people to celebrate or support a cause or an issue, as worthy as it is, it's just more difficult.


Like  
annielou

What’s the cause? I’m confused


Like  1 Like
des

It would be wonderful if the OP would let us know what their vision of a more inclusive town is and the criteria for judging it so.  


My experience is that Maplewood is full of great, open minded people. The town has a lot of events appealing to diverse interests. That's very cool. Maplewoodstock books nationally known acts. People show up from neighboring towns. It gets crowded. 


Like  
Alex
annielou said:
What’s the cause? I’m confused

 The XRoots Fest was sponsored by the Community Coalition on Race and their stated cause (on their website) was to "celebrate the diverse roots of our community". As they promoted it: "Mark your calendars and let your friends know now! The South Orange/Maplewood Community Coalition on Race will present XRootsFest (pronounced CROSS-Roots-Fest). Musicians, dancers, story-tellers, merchants and food vendors rooted in the cultures of four continents will weave together a fabulous afternoon for you, your friends and family. Enjoy and celebrate the diverse roots of our community".

I guess I was hoping that since it was such an overt attempt to advertise/celebrate our diversity and "getting-along-ness" that there would be more people there, especially given Maplewood's often self-professed pride in their diversity (this diversity was certainly a major factor in terms of why our own family decided to move here).

Having said that, I DO think, again, that a suitable "draw" that was sorely missing at the XRoots Fest was international food that was reflective of the community that lives here, etc. and I encourage them to do this next time and to even advertise it more as an "international food fair" (which I'm sure would help draw more people - my two cents).

- Alex


Like  
annielou

I see the word “celebration”, which has a whole different connotation than “cause”.


Like  

In order to add a comment – you must Join this community – Click here to do so.