Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Here in My City

Here in my city we keep it "weird". We're a blue dot in a red state.

In my city, middle aged pony-tailed men in v-neck vests (no shirts) ride through the city on lowrider bikes, a basket behind them tows records, or farmer's market goods. A Russian math professor brings his family to Rudy's for the Wednesday night special. The hippie with the "honk for hemp" sign gets honked at. Cowgirls and boys line up outside The Granada to see a country band, tipping hats as they wait. Old men meet up at coffee shops to discuss philosophy and physics. Millennials do cross fit next to Milton's. The Jewish Community Center holds a blintz brunch, and my friend will donate her hand crafts to the silent auction. The ice cream line at Sylas and Maddy's is filled with students and grandparents, and people with their dogs. A local dance teacher, a poet, a potter, and a scientist have lunch at Wheatfield's. Suburban homesteaders till their yards, plant their plants, and provide for their families. Little Free Libraries are filled to the brim. The women at the downtown Methodist church hold a breakfast cafe for the homeless. Students from Native American reservations, small towns, big cities, Asia, and the Caribbean discuss their classes at the university. Outdoor lovers pack up their bikes and kayaks and head to the lake. Mohammed serves up steaming falafel and gyro with his brothers, and then comes to ask you how everything is at Aladdin Cafe. The brewery is packed night after night. Black Lives Matters and Equality signs hang in the windows of local businesses. The same are posted in resident's lawns. Your barista has gauges so big you can see through them, but she doesn't make you feel uncool. Kids loiter at the library in the summer. Laughing, skate boarding, reading, being young. The Lied Center is packed when a ballet or scholar comes to town. A turquoise-locked twenty-something walks her cat down Mass. street. Dub step violin, saxophone jazz, haphazard theremin, and acoustic guitar music spreads out from street corners, benches, and alleyways. La Tropicana serves up delicious enchiladas, and the family who owns it chats with the regulars, holding babies, asking how life has been. Soccer moms with mini vans drop their kiddos off for gymnastics, tae kwon do, mandolin, and baseball.

In my city, my friend walks downtown with her two foster daughters. They see what I've described to you. One of the girls has just moved here, it's her third day. She's walking through this weird, accepting, foreign place. She's smiling, she's enjoying the weather, she's got a baby pink flower crown on, she's a bit reserved. Someone yells the n-word out of a car window at her as they drive by.

I couldn't believe it. I couldn't believe that this could happen here in LFK.

This is not my city.

My city is not filled with hate and anger.

But here's what I know:

In December, The Arts Center will put on "A Kansas Nutcracker" the children who attend dance classes there will be the mice, the grasshoppers, the other animals in the show. The children will all look different from one another, but they won't see it. They will just see their friends, they will see other mice and grasshoppers.

In August, the Headstart kiddos will start school. The classes will be filled with ESL kiddos, kids of foreign university students, white kids, black kids, Hispanic kids. They will all learn their letters, their numbers, and how to set the table for lunch. They will all laugh at funny books, make paintings and sculptures, they will all run on the playground. They will all sing, and nap (sometimes). Many of them will be going through hard things like divorce or an incarcerated parent. Many of them will be angry or sad sometimes. They will all learn and they will all grow. At graduation, they will look around, and they won't see color, they will see their friends. They will see other Headstart graduates.

This is my city.

This is the FUTURE of my city.

So, people of LFK, of the US, of the world: please keep spreading love. Please keep spreading tolerance. Please keep teaching your children those things too. Please foster environments of diversity, growth, and learning. Please keep making a difference where you live. Please keep being allies for groups who are discriminated against.

No matter how tolerant your city, state, etc. is, these things can happen anywhere. We have to be the ones to bring light to dark situations. The ones to leave things a little better than we found them. When I say "we" - I don't mean twenty-somethings. I mean EVERYONE. It's not enough for the twenty-somethings to do these things alone. We need the children, the elders, the middle-aged, the teens to do it too. We all live in this world, we can all do our part to make it better.

What are you doing in your city or town?

What ideas do you have to foster love and tolerance?

How do those who are involved gain the support of other generations who think it is not "up to them"? Or that it has to "start with twenty-somethings".

Just trying to share a bit of what's been on my heart these past few weeks (and longer).



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