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Reflect Attitudes and Behaviors Founded on Respect, Tolerance and Inclusivity 

Making Central Oregon a better place to live; Bright ideas for a changing community

  • Courtesy Latino Community Association
In February, the City Club of Central Oregon led a panel discussion on whether Central Oregon was as "welcoming" as many believe. No one mentioned that Bend became a "Welcoming City" in 2017 when it joined Welcoming America, a nationwide alliance of cities. Bend stood out from other cities in our region with a proclamation based on the principles of diversity, equity and inclusion. Each September, the city showcases a week of presentations, discussion groups, and other activities to celebrate our region's distinct cultures and traditions, called "Welcoming Week."

Unfortunately, other cities in Central Oregon failed to follow suit. Some folk confused Welcoming America with the notion of becoming a "sanctuary city." If Redmond, Madras and Prineville would join organizations such as Welcoming America, they would be recognized for their devotion to inclusivity, respect, mutual understanding and collaboration. It is essential that all our community members feel welcomed and valued.

Former Bend-La Pine Schools Superintendent Shay Mikalson led his administration, faculty and staff to participate in workshops on "educational equity" and "cultural humility." As our demographics continue to shift, local educators must become more culturally responsive, so our children develop a deeper understanding of each other's differences. Then they will develop empathy and respect for each other and realize that despite any differences, we have so much more in common. 

I remain hopeful our youth can model and set the tone for the rest of us by reflecting attitudes and behaviors founded on respect, tolerance and inclusivity. This can make Central Oregon a better place for us all.

—Oscar Jesus González is the empowerment programs manager and an OLAP-accredited representative in immigration law for the Latino Community Association.

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