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Nixa's diversity talks continue with hot cocoa social

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Nixa's exploration of diversity, a program called L.E.A.D., continues with a “Cocoa with the Community” event on Dec. 3.

Cocoa with the Community will be an opportunity for anyone from the Nixa community to get together to meet neighbors and build relationships as everyone enjoys hot cocoa and tasty treats at the Mayor’s Tree Lighting Ceremony at McCauley Park (701 North Taylor Way) on Dec. 3, beginning at 6 p.m. The Nixa Community Foundation awarded a $500 grant to the city to pay for the cocoa and treats.

L.E.A.D. Nixa stands for listen, encourage, advocate and demonstrate.

Assistant City Administrator and City Clerk Cindy Robbins is the city staff's facilitator for Nixa's exploration into its own diversity, as part of a strategic planning project, Imagine Nixa.

“What better way to bring people together than with hot chocolate and treats as we get into the holiday spirit?” Robbins said. “We’re excited to be able to add a L.E.A.D. Nixa element to this year’s tree lighting ceremony. One of the ways our municipal government can promote diversity, equity, and inclusion is to host public events that bring us all together. We can all enjoy free treats and getting to know our neighbors."

Nixa's diversity came up for discussion as a result of responses to a survey that ran for four months on ImagineNixa.com. Survey responses are locked, but anyone can still access and read comments and responses to an array of questions about Nixa. In the spring of 2021, Robbins attended an event on the topics of diversity and inclusion, and met Justyn Pippens. That led to Robbins inviting Pippens to work with the city of Nixa. On Sept. 22, Pippens served as the facilitator for a public forum on diversity at the Nixa Community Center. At the end of the discussion, Robbins took an informal poll of the crowd and offered to continue to hold such discussions on a quarterly basis.

"The city continues to listen for new ideas as well, and we want everyone to feel included in the invitation to participate and discuss our community’s future," Robbins said.

Nixa hosts a Mayor’s Tree Lighting ceremony each year, organized by the Nixa Parks Department. This year’s tree lighting will also include the debut of a new lighted, musical Christmas tree display, special holiday decorations at McCauley Park, craft areas, a visit by Santa Claus, and performances by the CC Links Rhythm group and choirs from Nixa Public Schools.

Part of Nixa's five-year strategic plan calls for the city to foster “hometown spirit” by embracing diversity in the community, promoting inclusion and equity, and hosting events which bring the community together in unity and neighborliness.

At the first L.E.A.D. event in September, city staffers from Nixa heard from several residents who mentioned that the city should continue to create public forums designed to bring the community together to get to know one another and build relationships. Some of the suggestions included hosting events with food and refreshments as a way to gather people together who may not normally meet. "Cocoa with the Community" is the City’s first continuation of the L.E.A.D. Nixa program, with more events being planned for 2022.

The reception will also celebrate a partnership between CC Links and the Nixa Department of Parks and Recreation.

CC Links serves persons with developmental disabilities who live in Christian County. It provides case management, resources, advocacy and activities for eligible persons as determined by the Missouri Department of Mental Health.

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