Little Rock, Arkansas was the first to hang a sign marking its formal participation in the National League of Cities (NLC) Inclusive Communities initiative. Little Rock has worked diligently to create an inclusive community over the past fifteen years, according to Scott Whitely Carter, the City’s Public Relations Manager, and is tying existing efforts – including the upcoming 50th anniversary of the integration of Little Rock High School – back to this initiative.

Since its inception, more than 60 communities around the country have joined NLC’s Partnership for Working Toward Inclusive Communities. The goal of the NLC program is not only to celebrate and honor diversity in communities across the county, but also to encourage citizen participation and involvement in local government.

The concept of inclusiveness not only relates to race and ethnicity, but also encompasses age, culture, disability, and even income level. The program seeks to foster an attitude of acceptance, promote justice among all citizens, and support inclusionary zoning.

To help encourage participation in the program, the National League of Cities provides a variety of tools and resources on its web site – from a Tool Kit that includes sample wording for local resolutions and press releases to examples of programs in other cities and a list of specific action steps.

And recently added to the web site … NLC President Jim Hunt’s blog in which he shares his experiences visiting cities to promote the initiative.