Diversity -The increasing diversity of our City presents opportunities to be celebrated and challenges to be met with compassion. My own immigrant grandparents faced many of the same challenges when they were new to this country. But they also had some advantages that most of Burlington’s newest immigrants do not, like speaking English and a far easier path to legal citizenship.
Many New Americans want and need to participate in our civic discourse, but there are barriers and obstacles to doing so. It is our responsibility to find new ways to reach out and make sure all community members can fully participate. Sometimes this means moving meetings and gatherings from City Hall into the neighborhood. In January, I worked with New American leaders to organize a meeting bringing them together with school commissioners and councilors at the King Street Youth Center to air concerns in an environment that is familiar and comfortable.
Beyond conversations, action is needed and warranted. I am passionate about New American small business opportunities. Proudly, I have been able to support women from Eritrea in their efforts to start a business bringing Ethiopian and Eritrean food to the South End at ArtsRiot, Burlington Parks & Recreation, and increasingly across the state. While helping them start the business, all of us benefit from the opportunity to eat the most delicious food I’ve ever tasted!