Refugees and Public Transportation, Part 2 – Observer Notes

Refugees and Public Transportation 2The facilitators did an excellent job of introducing themselves and the project.   They described the meeting’s purpose, goals, and guidelines and made all the participants feel welcome and safe. Everyone was encouraged to share from the introductions through the end of the meeting.

The four or five participants were involved and very knowledgeable about the refugee situation in Omaha. Two or three people who had indicated that they would attend the meeting did not make the actual event. The attendees represented Lutheran Family Services, Metro Area Transit, and the Metro 2050 Planning Group. Marvel Maring and Deirdre Routt facilitated an important and content-filled meeting.

A specific conversation stood out. The Lutheran Family Services representative offered insights into how refugees are overwhelmed and confused about Omaha’s bus routes. Refugees also don’t understand the signage and how to effectively use transfers. The Metro Area Transit representative offered to renew contact with Lutheran Family Services to develop some programming solutions with volunteers who work with refugees one-on-one. The Metro 2050 representative was also very engaged with other community and civic leaders to address these refugee issues.

Although one participant had to leave early, this group showed great potential from continued participation in the grant’s later projects. Later meetings could be a very important vehicle to help the participating agencies not “drop the communication and collaboration balls”. Excellent remedies could have been developed and put in place if communication and follow-up had occurred two years ago!

The facilitators did a great job in all the meeting phases. They guided a very productive meeting with potential for future improvement. Deirdre and Marvel also overcame the difficulties of moving ahead with a smaller group than expected.

Posted by R.K. Piper, Community Partner

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