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Sunday, September 17, 2017

Beaverton, Oregon Continues its Welcoming Week Celebrations in a Variety of Places

Portland is very well known as being a progressive city that accepts many people from various cultural, political and economic backgrounds. But its neighboring city to the West, Beaverton, is quickly becoming increasingly accepting of people from all walks of life as well. 

In January of this year, the Beaverton city council declared the city a "sanctuary" city, which means that the city is accepting of people, especially immigrants, who provide social, cultural and economic value to Beaverton.

Welcoming Week is a nation-wide celebration that sanctuary cities such as Beaverton are participating in to spread the message of acceptance among neighbors. The main website of Welcoming America, which is the social change agent, says that "during this annual series of events, communities bring together immigrants, refugees and native-born residents to raise awareness of the benefits of welcoming everyone." It is comprised of members, business and regular people who can use the website as a guide to learn how to host events and to write press releases to encourage spreading the message that by "welcoming communities [people] can foster a culture and policy environment that makes it possible for newcomers of all backgrounds to feel valued and to participate fully alongside their neighbors in the social, civic and economic fabric of their adopted hometowns."

So how is the city of Beaverton participating in this national Welcoming Week? Well, the main library hosted a pre-Welcome Week story slam last Thursday and various hosts throughout the city are hosting a variety of events. This afternoon, at 3, there will be a symphony of cultures concert held at a church, while at 4 p.m. there will be a potluck in a city park. Tomorrow night there is an African film screening at the Beaverton City Library, and on Tuesday evening there will be a poetry writing workshop as well as a play at the library.

Although the events have already started, please visit http://www.beavertonoregon.gov/1959/Welcoming-Week for a list of the upcoming activities. What's cool too is these events are all free to attend.

Christina Hanson is an adult services librarian at the Beaverton City Library and says that staff from both the library and city have coordinated the event planning, along with partner organizations who sometimes bring their own staff to help during the events. When asked how far in advance the Welcoming Week events are planned (this is the third year the city has participated in Welcoming Week), Hanson says that the planning starts about one year in advance. 

"The city encourages citizen groups, non-profits and other organizations to participate by holding [promotional] events ... through their networks," Hanson said. "There is a small group of staff who coordinated the main city-organized events who also serve as the point people for outside groups..." 


The city recently began organizing regular 'welcoming summits' with a wide swath of community groups to help with Welcoming Week planning..."

Ms. Hanson also noted that "Beaverton is the most diverse city in Oregon currently. Over one quarter of Beaverton residents were born outside of the United States. Beaverton's city council and mayor have been committed to using our demographics as a strength and joined Welcoming America's Welcoming Week initiative because of the direct connection to our community."

And while there are occasionally library volunteers to help with the activities when they occur, most of the events run pretty smoothly, Hanson added.



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