CommUNITY Alliance announces accomplishments

By: Eric Czarnik | Sterling Heights Sentry | Published November 9, 2022

Shutterstock image

STERLING HEIGHTS — A recent public presentation from the Sterling Heights CommUNITY Alliance revealed how its plans are coming together.

During an Oct. 17 Sterling Heights City Council meeting, city officials said the CommUNITY Alliance has been busy over the past 1 1/2 years or so.

CommUNITY Alliance Vice Chair Ricardo Harris described his organization’s vision and mission. He said the group wants to build a culture that “intentionally honors and celebrates all people.” And he said it aims to build an “inclusive environment” that celebrates “acceptance of all people through education, exposure and events.”

Doing this, he said, requires the group to focus on education, inclusion and leadership.

Alliance member Cynthia Bjornson listed several ways the education pillar has been pursued. She said the alliance has created social media posts that recognize occasions like Indigenous Peoples Day. And she said the board passed 16 resolutions, such as those pertaining to Black History Month, National Women’s History Month and Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day.

Bjornson added that the alliance has been participating in events, such as raising the pride flag last June, an upcoming Pride Night at the Dodge Park skating rink, and an event slated for 2023 called “Human Library - Unjudge Someone.”

“The human library is a library of people where readers can borrow human beings as open books and have conversations they would not normally have access to,” she said.

Bjornson said the group also plans to host a disability awareness workshop that features hands-on activity stations — perhaps involving Braille or a wheelchair course — that let people experience what life is like for people with different abilities.

“We’re hoping to have a couple of those stations at the Cultural Exchange and then having a full-blown workshop with all 10 stations somewhere, late February, early March,” he said. “This program was developed to teach the community how people who have a disability are affected on a daily basis by their challenges and differences.”

Harris then said the alliance wants to help and equip the city’s leadership to address any cultural blind spots it has.

“So we developed a checklist, and this checklist, it includes factors that, you know, you might not think about all the time, like age, physical abilities, economic impacts, whether the events are affordable or not, religion, etc.” he said. “So this checklist kind of goes through and identifies things that, again, we might not always think about.”

After the presentation, City Manager Mark Vanderpool said it was “gratifying” to see the alliance’s results, which he called good and very meaningful. Mayor Michael Taylor also called the work “very important to us.”

“And it is helpful to inform us. You know, what one of the terms we use when we formed this alliance was ‘blind spots,’ and that’s what we heard today, too. Where do we need help — some areas we don’t even know where we need help, and that’s where you guys step in.”

Learn more about the Sterling Heights CommUNITY Alliance by visiting or by calling (586) 446-2489.