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New Ulm Forward: A time to listen, learn

Staff photo by Fritz Busch New Ulm Forward’s Family Table — a time to listen to each other, a time to learn from one another and a time for welcome and understanding — draws people to The Grand Center for Arts and Culture Thursday night.

NEW ULM — Family Table, a time to listen to each other, learn from one another and a time for welcoming and understanding, drew a diverse couple dozen people to The Grand Center for Arts and Culture Thursday night.

Sponsored by New Ulm Forward, designed to celebrate diversity in a healthy community, the potluck event was created to unite families by bringing their favorite or traditional food.

New Ulm Forward member Sue Kimmel said a recent local survey showed a number of people felt it was important to get to know their neighbors better.

“We’re really hoping as we continue to work with our community that New Ulm can be more accepting of all people,” Kimmel said. “New Ulm Forward has been working with Minnesota State University, Mankato, students. We stand with people that may have received any negative or ‘hate’ mail or email in an effort to educate our community to ensure all people are accepted.”

After a potluck meal, participants led by Bukata Hayes of Region 9 in Mankato discussed how New Ulm can become more culturally aware, making all people feeling welcome and a part of the community.

A number of participants said they liked the idea of a potluck dinner or block party as a way to get to know new people in town.

“Change comes from small groups of people with new ideas,” Hayes said.

“We have to work hard to make this an inclusive community,” said a participant. “We need to grow and be more accepting of progress. This is an opportunity to learn and make the community better. Be active in this by listening and learning.”

Another participant who recently moved to town from Boston said she saw New Ulm Forward as a fringe group that drew her interest.

“The fringe is where cool people hang out,” she said.

Brown County Commissioner and New Ulm Police Chief Dave Borchert said he recently learned that there is a local labor shortage. In addition, he learned that Blue Earth County and the City of Blue Earth have a similar situation that has been aided by recruiting Puerto Ricans.

Hayes said the 47th Annual Traditional Wacipi (pow wow) takes place this weekend (Sept. 20-22) at Land of Memories Park in Mankato. The event is a gathering of nations to celebrate and honor traditions and ancestors, and reconcile and build bridges between all nations through education, storytelling, and sharing Dakota Indian culture.

For more information visit www.mahkatowacipi.org.

The next New Ulm Forward Family Table is scheduled to take place on Monday, Jan. 20, Martin Luther King Jr. Day. New Ulm Forward can be found on Facebook.

Fritz Busch can be emailed at fbusch@nujournal.com.

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