Faith Works 10-8-16
Humanity, Unity, and Diversity
If I were to hear about an event called "One World: a Celebration Embracing Multicultural Licking County" at the Davis-Shai House on 301 Central Parkway in Heath, I'd make some assumptions right off.
One, I have to admit, is that we'd be importing a fair amount of that diversity into the county. But on further reflection, that's simply not true.
We may not be as diverse as the nation as a whole, or as ethnically vivid as some places, urban or otherwise, but the Land of Legend has a pretty wide range of cultures and peoples already here.
The ancient history of the area, as will be celebrated on Monday at the Octagon Earthworks with tours from 1 pm to 4 pm (33rd St. & Parkview Rd. off West Main in Newark), includes pilgrimage and multiple traditions gathering in these valleys some 2,000 years ago. Native Americans traded across the continent, bringing objects and we presume to some degree people from as far away as the Gulf Coast to Yellowstone, from the Smokies in North Carolina to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.
Just as there are 550 "first nations" in the United States today, so then all American Indians weren't just a single homogenous, interchangeable culture. That makes Newark & Heath a place of exchange and understanding from our earliest records.
We are, it is true, very much a majority Anglo/Caucasian place, but the African American, Hispanic and Latin American cultures, and a variety of Asian American and other groups from around the world live and are practicing their traditional ways from their homeland to right here . . . and there are indeed still Native American people here (some say they never left!).
So for a multicultural celebration at the Davis-Shai House (behind the Heath Walmart shopping center) to happen, it just means in some ways we need to come together, and see each other for who we really are. From 2:00 to 5:00 pm on Sunday afternoon, Christ Lutheran Church in Heath and Trinity A.M.E. Church in downtown Newark will host and a variety of community partners will present programming that will include children's activities, music, crafts, and educational displays & programs along with dance, song, and artistic displays in the building, and much more out around the historic home on the grounds.
Storytelling & poetry for all ages is planned, all of which Joy Williams says is "an invitation to celebrate our diversity as a community." The goal of this local group of friends & fellow worshipers is to help Licking County become more aware of the diversity and multiple cultural traditions we already have, strands of connection to distant places, but serving as colorful threads running through the lives of those of us who live here in a place we call home.
For thousands of years, humans have crossed this landscape, after the retreat of glaciers first revealing the terrain as we know it today, up to our vast reshaping in building interchanges and ramps and highways to speed up our passage now. What "an invitation to celebrate our diversity as a community" can do for us is to simply slow us down, bring us together, and give us a place to see each other, sing with each other, share food and arts and stories between our different homes and families and practices.
To build such a place of unity and diversity might be just as important as any other civic piece of construction we're all so distracted by right now. Come help create that place by dropping by this "open house" for our entire community, free and open to the public Sunday afternoon.
Jeff Gill is a writer, storyteller, and pastor in Licking County; tell him about the cultural diversity you've encountered in this area at firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow @Knapsack on Twitter.