The leaders of Intercultural Communities Uniting engaged in a two year project offering friendship and collaboration to new immigrants to six communities in Southwest Minnesota. In the process, they developed deep friendships with each other and learned valuable lessons about how different communities can work together to enhance the well being of all their citizens. In this video, they reflect on what they learned.
Intercultural Communities Uniting built on many years of work developing tools for relationship building across differences. One of the leaders in this earlier work, Greg Warner, contributed his knowledge, experience, and inspiration to several of the ICU projects. His vision of an inclusive community was important in setting the direction for the collaborative group.
Intercultural Communities Uniting made use of translators in a variety of projects, and so all the communities involved in the project came to realize that translators are important and that they need good training so that they can do their job well and so that they can be paid appropriately for their work. Over time, a new project was conceived to provide convenient and affordable translator training in Southwest Minnesota.
Intercultural Communities Uniting in Walnut Grove, Minnesota pursued a variety of small projects to bring the long-time residents together with the newly arrived Hmong in fun and cordial ways that built friendships and partnerships.
The ICU projects in Marshall originate from an intercultural circle of support that offers friendship and acceptance to a diverse group of children and adults.
Beginning gardeners need to start with small plots. Often, the place they live doesn't offer much hope of successful gardening; it is easy to become discouraged. Kathy Lillevold has been working for years to introduce children and adults to the joys and benefits of gardening. As part of Intercultural Communities Uniting, she had the resources to support these projects.
Intercultural Communities Uniting supported the ongoing work of Tina Richards in the Westbrook-Walnut Grove Schools. Through a group called "One Nation," Tina promotes cultural awareness, inter-cultural dialogue, and the full participation of new immigrants in the local community.
Nursing homes and assisted living facilities are important meeting places for people from diverse cultures: many new immigrants are on the care staff at such facilities, and the residents may not be well prepared to engage with people from different cultures. The center of the ICU projects in Springfield, Minnesota was St. John's Circle of Care. Residents there came to a new appreciation of the newcomers to their community; they also assisted in organizing the World Market, a multi-cultural event open to the whole community.
The Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota Foundation "Healthy Together" grant helped local activists to continue and expand their work, drawing on extensive knowledge of the community and working through networks established over years of common projects. Where good will and common purpose have been nourished for decades, new projects can flourish with small investments of time and labor. Judy Harder's story gives one example of this kind of well prepared community engagement.
Funds from the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota Foundation Healthy Together grant enabled family service providers in St. James, Minnesota to realize their long-held dream of creating a space in which families under stress could support each other in the difficult task of achieving long-term harmony and growth. Gerry Buse tells that story:
The committee for Intercultural Communities Uniting in Windom, Minnesota pursued a variety of different projects with a common aim: to welcome and support newcomers to the community.