Celebrating Welcoming Week

Published 6:50 am Saturday, September 12, 2020

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This week Austin celebrates Welcoming Week by hosting several community events as a way of “creating home together” and fostering a sense of belonging in communities around the world.

Mayor Tom Stiehm has proclaimed Sept. 12-20 to be Welcoming Week. 

“Welcoming Week is a great opportunity to highlight the ongoing and purposeful work that goes into building an inclusive community on a yearly basis,” said Craig Clark, Austin city administrator. “Taking time to honor and highlight these efforts during this special period is appropriate and we can really demonstrate our progress when we give it our focused perspective and thank all those working so hard to make Austin a more accepting and prosperous community.”

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Mower County has also taken steps to proclaim Welcoming Week and foster the spirit of welcoming and inclusivity throughout the county. 

“Immigrants in Mower County are just like the rest of us,” said Jeff Baldus, Mower County Board chair. “They share the same values we do of hard work, responsibility, strong families and making a better life for their children. Nearly all of us have ancestors who were immigrants to this country, and just like the immigrants here now, we all strive for the American Dream. Welcoming immigrants into our community is just one more way to celebrate the differences that make us strong, and the values that we all share.”

This Welcoming Week, the community is leading the way to help diverse residents create homes together and show what it means to be truly welcoming for all.

“Welcoming Week is a time to not only celebrate the values of equality and belonging, but to bring our communities together to live them in practice,” said Rachel Peric, executive director of Welcoming America. “In places large and small, rural and urban, thousands of local leaders remind us of what is possible when we make it our priority to create a sense of home for every member of our community, so that all of us can be healthy, participate, and thrive.”

Under the theme of “Creating Home Together,” the Austin Human Rights Commission, Riverland Community College, Immigrant Law Center of Minnesota, Austin Public Library, Austin Area Arts, Welcome Center, and YMCA will host the following:

• Ongoing: “Our Austin, Our America” portraits on display at Austin City Hall, tour the hall and City Council Chambers while the building is open and see photographer William Taufic’s project showing the many faces that make up our Austin community.

• Saturday: Community Service Project – Park Clean Up at Rotary Park, 299 8th Ave SE, Austin, MN 55912 (snacks and masks provided, and social distance observed), 9 a.m.

• Monday: Human Rights Commission hosts social justice book club discussion on Erika Lee’s America for Americans (book available free at City Hall, 500 4th Avenue NE) and e-audio for check out from Austin Public Library), 7 p.m. https://us02web.zoom.us/j/85919588508?pwd=dzlTSHFtZERyak5mbGR2QVZhZm5sUT09

• Sept. 10, 17, 24: Austin Public Library, outdoor book discussion on racism issues Thursday evenings in September, 6 p.m. Go to Facebook for more: www.facebook.com/events/343366833486900/?event_time_id=343366836820233.

• Tuesday: Riverland Community College, Immigrant Voices, Immigrant Stories; the 5th annual signature welcoming week event will be held virtually this year. : Meeting ID: 997 4189 7293 Passcode: 947271 https://minnstate.zoom.us/j/99741897293?pwd=MzFYMVc5WVBpcld3ZEV6dXBJdi8xdz09, 12:30 p.m.

• Wednesday: YMCA and Austin Public Library host Kids Bike Rodeo: test your skills on an obstacle course and learn about basic bike maintenance (call 433-2391 for appointment), 4:30-7:30 p.m.

• Wednesday: Sumner Flag Walk, Sumner Elementary School, weather permitting, 10 a.m.

• Wednesday: Riverland Community College discussion groups “Justice, Equity and What it Means to be Welcoming” will be held outdoors on the east campus lawn, part of Racial Justice Day, noon.

• Ongoing Business Award and Virtual Business Tours: Get a behind the scenes look at some of the local minority owned businesses, to be posted on the Human Rights Commission and Austin Area Minority Business Project’s Facebook pages, @austinhumanrightscommission and @AAMBPMN.

•Sept. 19: Human Rights Commission and Welcome Center host Story Stitch, a way to build connections with your neighbors through conversation, https://us02web.zoom.us/j/81464239206?pwd=ZXFHT1RHOStxdjVXbSswd0szcEg1Zz09, 1 p.m.