Letter: Austin a positive role model of community

Published 6:30 am Saturday, August 22, 2020

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The staff of the Austin Daily Herald deserves praise for running a recent Q&A article asking mayoral candidates on what it means to be a welcoming community. At a time of fierce division in America, the media’s role in inviting constructive dialogue – rather than fanning the flames of fear – could not be more important for a healthy democracy. This includes creating the opportunity for civic leaders to offer a vision for their community that speaks to the important task of inclusion, particularly in places like Austin, where demographics are changing and so much effort has been put into ensuring that all residents – new and old alike – feel at home.

As a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization, Welcoming America does not endorse candidates or weigh in on the merits of their leadership. Regardless of whoever is elected as mayor of Austin, we hope to continue our relationship with them and the community. We congratulate the city and the many organizations who have been part of longstanding efforts to ensure it remains a place for people from around the world to put down roots and belong.

More than a statement of values, being welcoming is a commitment to work across community institutions and reduce barriers to civic, social, and economic participation. True welcoming ensures that every member of the Austin community – including more racially and ethnically diverse residents – can thrive and belong. From diversifying leadership on boards and commissions, to expanding opportunities to open and grow a business, to making neighbors feel welcomed at school or on Main Street, this is work that any member of the community can be part of. In turn, we all benefit.

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To that end, we look forward to continuing the critical work of welcoming with the community, whether that’s through a membership in our Welcoming Network, our Certified Welcoming program, or celebrating with us through Welcoming Week, an international event taking place September 12-20.

At a time when so many places across America are challenged to create more equitable and inclusive communities, Austin is a positive role model. We look forward to standing with all those who aspire to continue to make it so.

Rachel Peric

Executive Director,

Welcoming America