On May 23, 2014 the Garfield YMCA hosted Multi-Cultural Night.
Close to 150 people from surrounding communities gathered at 480 Midland Ave under one flag, the United States of America. Much of what the flag stands for is what the family of the Garfield YMCA stands for: the ability to celebrate our diversity without discrimination. All people are welcome, all traditions respected, all children and families have the same opportunity to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
Multi-Cultural Night is a representation of showing community, understanding, and appreciation in action.
Events and organizations like this, are building community to overcome the disparities of health. Multi Cultural Night does not contain the “righting effect,” which is a prescription emphasized with should that includes the right way to live, eat, play, and sleep, (all in all- the right way to be!) This is a negative environment that breeds fear, defeat and rejection. We know there are many ways to; becoming healthier, making change, living, eating and playing, yet many families do not feel they are successful in taking care of their family’s health because of messaging and images we receive daily. Where some individuals understand intention is about action not about feeling, the larger population usually needs to FEEL successful in order to BE successful. They have to create the feeling within before they can manifest outside.
So Mutli-Cultural Night aims to look at broader, higher truths and look at health holistically. Having our community members come to eat, dance and sing together leads to many healthy behaviors. What stems from this is a sense of communing. A sense of communing is the essential ingredient for any relationship. Even within self, if not communing (body, mind and spirit) we are dysfunctional, disintegrated, incomplete, and born out of these feelings are sorrow, anger, guilt and shame which breeds the shadow. A sense of communing breeds respect, honesty, caring, responsibility and inclusion. Wouldn’t you agree this becomes fertile planting ground for the seeds of positive transformation?
We wonder if projects that are looking to give people access and opportunity to healthy living will work? When opportunity and access is grown from intention that takes the Natural Laws of the Universe into consideration, the answer is of course they will work. When we must evaluate the outcomes of these projects we are being asked to quantify the undefined. We can not quantify how many organic tomatoes and peppers one must eat combined with how many hours of physical activity one must perform weekly to find the formula that will yield the individual feeling healthy, peaceful accepted, conscious, aware, positive, light and love. Perhaps as we try to add value to the undefined we limit it. Perhaps we should be careful with testing the Natural Laws of the Universe.
We forget that sharing a meal and dance is in many cultures still regarded as sacred. In today’s complex society, sharing a meal and art with strangers is offering one to come inside. Our auto response is usually to put up barriers; don’t talk to strangers. There are times we have to intentionally break barriers to remind us all that none of us are strangers.
One part of the night we planned was to include fresh fruits and vegetables grown in our garden served up by our community partner, Meals with A Mission but Mother Nature had her way and our garden has not been able to produce crops yet; however, Joe Blythe from Meals with A Mission is a man who comes through every time. Through the donations Meals with a Mission receives, Joe served up 30 meals of sausage, with rice and beans, not coincidentally a new Spanish recipe he just started working with. So we had some ethnic dishes to share including Meals with A Mission’s delicious corn on the cob donation for all participants. What other types of food? We had over 50 types of dishes from all over the globe present! Children in after school care programs made center pieces for the tables themed around universal connectivity.
Performers included dance groups in ethnic grab representing Peru, Poland, Ecuador, Albania, Punjab, the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, USA and musicians representing the USA and Italy.
Families were rightfully proud of their heritage and rich traditions. Each participant brought something very special to share. Yes, we were fortunate to have performers and food but each participant was the gift itself to the night to make the whole what is was. The event was a family dinner full of joy that had no dysfunction. Remember that last statement at your next holiday meal when you’re sitting with your family… How did they Y pull this off with strangers and we can’t do it within our own family? Remember the fertile ground, remember the ingredients. It’s the Y’s 5 Core Values; caring, honesty, respect, responsibility and inclusion.