Our walk this Sunday was oh some meaningful to me! And in a sense so very unique and so very special. Mike and I did our walk on the East side of Longmont in a predominately yes a very predominantly low income poor if you will populated Latino barrio. And oh how wonderful it was to see the residence after I introduced them to Mike the Chief of Police and Fire light up! Yes so appreciative to meet the Chief right down there in their barrio! The residence there were from Guatemala, Mexico, and other Latin American countries and what a great experience it was to hear of their lives and how they loved Longmont and how grateful they lived in our beautiful city instead of other places they had been in and how they felt no discrimination in our City and how the Police treated them with respect and friendliness and were there for them! And one thing for sure I knew about this walk that it came through clearly that Mike was so comfortable in the barrio, like if this is where he belongs and I could sense the people felt it and identified with him! They felt they belonged after talking with Mike. Ahh so comfortable so meaningful talking to our neighbors with a fellow person from the Barrio Mike Butler!
After a brief break in our walks, we convened again in a neighborhood in northeast Longmont. This neighborhood consists solely of apartments. There are folks in some of the apartments that struggle to pay rent and are close to becoming homeless. In another part of the neighborhood, there are concerns with one particular home where there has been some recent police activity. Anyway, we decided to immerse ourselves into this neighborhood and, again with our primary purpose, encourage people to feel and believe they belong to all of us and to our community.
We met many people on this beautiful Sunday morning. The vast majority were from Latin America. Several of those we encountered were relatively new to this country and in a couple of cases, we engaged people who travel back and forth between their country of origin and the United States.
In many neighborhoods in our community, there are welcome signs at their edges. In this neighborhood, there signs of caution. Dan mentioned that for many people we encountered, the police in their country of origin are corrupt and not to be trusted. So we really had to use our "ambassador skills' on this walk. We only spoke to one couple who could speak English. Of course Dan did most of the talking. And for those of you who have been on our walks, you know of Dan's personable nature and his capacity to connect. Everybody we approached agreed to talk with us. Many told their life stories - all agreed to a photo op.
A few notable conversations occurred with Jesus, Scisio, Maria, Christian, Hugo, Juan, Alejandro, Arturo and Emily. The initial part of these conversations started off cautiously but eventually people opened up about their neighborhood, our community, their relationship with the police and fire, and their sense of safety. There were a few common threads. All felt safe in their neighborhood. None felt they had been discriminated against since they have been in Longmont and all felt comfortable with the police. Alejandro commented, "we see the police in our neighborhood and they treat people well and the police act on the orders of the people."
Silvia was amazed we were in her neighborhood. She has never seen anyone other than the police and was demonstratively grateful we took the time to be there. She had several good ideas about how to build community. She was excited to volunteer.
Notwithstanding what we think the social capital index might be in any specific neighborhood, we should embrace each and every neighborhood similarly. As we previously reported, we view each neighborhood as a treasure chest just waiting to be opened. The gold and the jewels are the gifts, talents, and resources people have to offer each other and their community. We would like to think we cannot be surprised by what we will discover in any one neighborhood, but our walk this last Sunday was nothing short of amazing and so pleasantly surprising!