I have teamed up with Ileana Saveley to organize a Latino Community forum at Shadow Wood on Friday, June 29th, 7:pm (at the Community Center, which the locals call the “escuela”, or school). This came out of a desire to help advocate and empower voices that sometimes have difficulty being heard. Prior to our efforts at organizing this particular event, I had been really impressed by what I perceived to be unity and closely knitted nature of this group; last night I was blessed with the opportunity to walk the streets of Shadow Wood with a growing number of parents who care about their community and want share their concerns. It is very eye-opening for me to see how other folks band together and join their hands. In some selfish aspect, perhaps this was one of my reasons for organizing this event – to witness how people do this.
During the past 7 days as we have ramped up our efforts, I have had even more opportunities to learn fascinating facts and bits of history surrounding Shadow Wood and the local Latino Community. I was on the phone with Champaign County Board Member Giraldo Rosales, who regaled me with 20 or so years of historical context and gave me a bigger lens through which to see. Yesterday at Houlihans, Dr. Eugene Barnes zoomed out to the national level and talked about all the legislation he was involved in changing, and then zoomed back down to Shadow Wood and the efforts with his Metanoia Centers and Bristol Place. I have had the opportunity to meet the Shadow Wood park manager, Zig. But perhaps what stands out most are the conversations involving a Shadow Wood parent, leaning heavily on Ileana for translation – it is amazing to watch a few key players within this community who are already organizing events (like the recent Father’s Day march from Shadow Wood to St. Mary’s – not small trek in and of itself).
As many have already stated, we are trying to take the long-haul perspective; we are building relationships, and while we are trying to fix our aim on real changes, we realize it will take many steps to get there. I think we have two main goals we want to accomplish:
- open the doors for communication: this means building trust, learning and guiding others on what works, and standing with each other
- improving life for this small community, which in turn improves life for the larger community: we are all in this together, whether you acknowledge it or not
I am very much excited about what is going on.
Update: Meg wrote a nice brief for the NG