Yes, another great walk! A walk that I needed with all the bad stuff going on in our Country about Immigration ICE and racism and I was down again mentally and spiritually and I had over the past weeks let myself once more to go into the pit of feeling sorry for myself and for my fellow Latinos and getting angry over it all and this walk made me feel once again that it is going to be okay! And how good I felt when Mike assured the Latino Gentleman who shared with us that as he traveled down the street in his car and there was a police car behind him that he was in fear that they would be stopped because of their race and their status and Mike told him not to have fear and to share with all his neighbors and friends that our police were here to serve them not arrest them for their status.
And oh how great it was to talk with Karen and her younger sister and Karen who interprets for her non English speaking Mother and who will be graduating from Niwot High School and is planning on going to the University and I said to her in with a big smile on my face and in a loud voice “ Karen I am so Proud so of you and you are going to be the next President of the United States” and oh what joy when she smiled at us from ear to ear!
Thank you, Mike, for making all this good stuff to happen. And thank you Carmen Mireles and Laura Soto for interpreting and sharing with all your great insight, and your caring loving messaging to our neighbors! You were great!
Courage And Hope In The Midst Of Great Uncertainty
Dan and I chose to walk a large mobile home park in South Longmont this last Sunday. This particular mobile home park had an extensive Latino community with many Spanish speaking only people. We were joined by Carmen and Laura both of whom work for the McKinley law firm and both support El Comite, a Latino advocacy organization that has been in Longmont since the early 1980s. Their energy and personalities added much to the richness of our walk.
The ongoing primary purpose of our Belonging Revolution is to encourage everyone we meet to feel and believe they belong to our community and with all of us. We were not certain what we would find in our morning walk this last Sunday. In the back of our minds was the increased focus on immigration. Immigrants, notwithstanding their status, culture or religious affiliation are labeled as problems by some in out country. I wonder if that labeling is a projection of who we are. We often characterize or group people in the form of a problem to be solved or by their deficiencies. Consider the following:
People who struggle with chemical substances are called 'addicts.'
People who do not have a place to live are called 'homeless.'
People who struggle with their mental or emotional health are called 'mentally ill.'
Immigrants who come from certain countries are called 'illegals.'
There are those who make a living off other people's perceived deficiencies. We study their needs, devise professions to serve them; and create institutions that become dependent on their deficiencies. These folks and their problems are here to be 'serviced.' They need to change or be fixed or to be gone so our communities or our country can be safe and healthy. And in some ways, we need to stay distant and contain them until they do change or are no longer in our communities. We have also created a large retribution industry by criminalizing people's deficiencies, health issues or their immigration status.
Here is what we have discovered on our Belonging Revolutionary walks. People want to feel a sense of belonging and to know their voice counts, their thoughts matter and that their humanness is valued. We've learned that if we saw others as an aspect(versus a projection) of ourselves, we would welcome them into our midst. We would let them know they belong to all of us.
Why can't we just let those who struggle(all of us) know that we belong to each other? Can we let go of the artificial and cosmetic nature of sovereign nation, religious belief, the rigidity of cultural custom, political affiliation, or the color, gender, or race of who we are as people? Do we have to try to label or fix each other? Is there not great healing of our woundedness or our isolation found in the strength of our relationships, our connectedness and knowing we belong to each other? Do we need service and retribution industries to the level they exist?
I had an array of emotions as we walked Countryside Village on Sunday. I felt hope for new possibilities as we talked with Karen, who is about to graduate from high school, and her younger sister; I felt kinship to people I had never met before as I listened to Roberto and Maria talk about their lives with their two young children. I felt discouragement knowing people felt visceral fear about their existence in our community as we met with Javier and Francisco. I felt happiness and lightness as we spoke with Joaquin as he shared about his four boys and his job with Lawn Doctor.
We are truly blessed every Sunday during our Belonging Revolution walks. We meet perfect strangers who are willing to reveal their own intimate complexities. Almost miraculously, we learn every Sunday the realization that we have the wherewithal and the means to create a world we all want to inhabit and that we can, indeed, create a community that works for all! Is there a Belonging Revolution complex in our country's future? Hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah!!!
Carmen V. Mireles, Legal Assistant, McKinley Law Group
On Sunday February 19, 2017, I was invited to walk the community with Police Chief
Mike Butler and his colleague Dan Benavidez. I had heard about their community walks for quite some time now and I was very interested in seeing how they are connecting with the community, specifically the Latino community. We walked around the Countryside Village Mobile home park for about two hours stopping to speak with people who were outside. Most of the people we spoke to were Latino primarily Spanish speaking. I was very impressed with the way Chief Butler took the time to listen to each and every concern. I appreciate the way he was able to reassure them and their friends and family members that our local police officers are NOT interested in their immigration status, they want to make sure they feel SAFE in our community. He also put out an invitation to each of those people to have a follow up conversation regarding other community concerns. He truly believes each and every person in Longmont BELONGS here and can contribute to making our city the great place that it is. I would like to thank Chief Butler for allowing me to be a part of the belonging revolution.
Carmen V. Mireles, Legal Assistant, McKinley Law Group
I feel very lucky to have walked for the first time with Mike Butler, our Longmont Chief of Police this Sunday. I had known he went on community walks to hear the concerns first hand from Longmont residents, but never imagined how he would connect with and respond to residents who DO have genuine security concerns. I wanted to come along when I heard he would be visiting a neighborhood that has a high population of the immigrant community we serve at our law firm. I was very pleased to experience his receptiveness to everyone’s opinions regardless of their age or background; and his genuine interest in hearing their worry for the safety of their families. This is an effort that I would hope to see mirrored in all positions of leadership who truly wish to represent and serve all of their constituents. We have seen much fear and insecurity growing in our communities since November 2016. When you are an individual who has traditionally been targeted and marginalized it is very common to live your every waking day in fear. When you are an individual who has never experienced insecurity walking down the street or driving to work, you may not understand the “real fear” felt by your next door neighbor. I see these walks with the Chief of Police as a way to bring people together in understanding of our shared need to feel safe during threatening times.