Respect & Dignity for All Michiganders

Welcoming Michigan is the only statewide initiative that seeks to transform the immigration conversation to one of respect and dignity towards all Michiganders. We plan to accomplish this by creating opportunities for neighbors to get together and learn about each other. Bringing immigrants and non-immigrants together to share their stories is one way to foster greater understanding. And building relationships between neighbors will help us create stronger and safer communities.

Welcoming Michigan is pleased to announce that welcoming efforts are currently underway in three communities in southeast Michigan:  Sterling Heights, Hamtramck, and Chadsey Condon in southwest Detroit.  Over the past few months local leaders in these areas have been coming together to talk about how to make their communities more welcoming and planning activities to bring diverse groups together. Folks in Chadsey Condon are getting ready to celebrate Cinco de Mayo, Hamtramck is preparing for a screening of the film “Welcome to Shelbyville,” and in Sterling Heights the leadership team is busy planning events for World Refugee Day. The leadership teams are made up of youth and adult community members, clergy, business leaders, charitable organizations, nonprofit staff members, and city government employees. Many of the local leaders have expressed personal commitments to their communities and would like to build on past successes to ensure their communities remain welcoming to newcomers.

Why is it important to make your community welcoming?  Members of the leadership teams have shared a variety of reasons for why they care about making their communities more welcoming.  Some have personal experience as immigrants and want to help welcome other newcomers. Others identify as longtime residents with a passion for neighbors. Some love the diversity their community offers and consider it a positive environment for raising their children and teaching them respect and cooperation. Some would like to stop intentional segregation and see more integration, noting that many ethnic communities are separate but if they come together the area would be better and more alive. Others appreciate seeing so many cultures present in the community but still hear myths and rumors being perpetuated about different groups. Some said that when they were newcomers to town they immediately felt welcomed by the community and would like to return the favor. Other leaders asserted that welcoming is an important part of neighborhood stabilization. Police officers expressed a desire to keep communication channels open and to help newcomers adjust to their new surroundings. Many leaders want to ensure a safe environment for the whole community and want to increase block club participation from all backgrounds. Most leaders said they want to keep their communities welcoming. As neighbors, we need to take care of each other.

Everyone here at Welcoming Michigan is looking forward to our official launch on Monday, May 7th, 2012! We were so excited when Michigan became the 13th affiliate of Welcoming America and couldn’t wait to get going on the ground. We are pleased to announce that our community coordinators have been busy starting things off in three communities in southeast Michigan and one community on the west side of the state. As time goes on we hope to expand our efforts to other communities across the state.

Welcoming Michigan is the only statewide initiative that seeks to transform the immigration conversation to one of respect and dignity towards all Michiganders. We plan to accomplish this by creating opportunities for neighbors to get together and learn about each other. Bringing immigrants and non-immigrants together to share their stories is one way to foster greater understanding. And building relationships between neighbors will help us create stronger and safer communities.

We’d like to sincerely thank all our supporters and community partners who helped us get started. We look forward to working with you to build welcoming communities for everyone. We will be documenting our activities on our blog periodically, so check back soon to follow our progress!