Comunidad Integrada hosts immigration forums
May 18, 2007
In an effort to involve a wide range of community members in successful immigrant integration, Comunidad Integrada/Integrated Community is hosting a series of forums in Craig and Steamboat Springs.
“It’s really just a fun, social, interactive way of collecting people’s ideas about the topic,” Comunidad Integrada Director Summer Laws said.
The forums, known as World Cafes, are directed toward particular groups of people. In Craig, the human services and health care providers have already met. Laws said she is organizing education, business, arts and culture, law enforcement and faith forums as well.
Of the eight forums that will occur in each community, the next forum, slated for Tuesday night, is directed to immigrants from any nation.
“The idea is that people might be more comfortable talking among their peers first before speaking at a big forum,” Laws said.
Laws said the organization will host a larger public forum at 6 p.m. June 18, also at the Boys & Girls Club. Food and refreshments will be provided.
“Basically, it’ll be like a big party, but we want to get their input as well,” Laws said.
The World Cafe process involves small group discussion and brainstorming of possible community events and programs.
“It’s tables of just four or five people, and then we pose a question, and it is really just a free-form discussion,” Law said.
Participants rotate tables three times for 15 minutes each. By the end of the discussions, participants present the highest priority ideas to the organization.
“People just come up with some fantastic ideas from those conversations,” Laws said. “It’s just a really fun activity.”
Some ideas that have developed include free dinner and movie nights, language courses and certified interpreter programs.
The forums and subsequent actions are funded by the “Sup–porting Immigrant and Refugee Families Initiative” through The Colorado Trust.
The statewide initiative is in place in 18 communities statewide. Moffat and Routt counties combined efforts for the grant proposal in 2006.
“We take this information, and the community puts together a proposal, and that’s funded by the Colorado Trust for the next four years,” Laws said. “And it’s guaranteed funding. It’s great because people know that we’ll be able to do a lot of things they ask us to.”
Laws said implementation of activities and programs could begin by this fall.
“What we really want to look at through this grant is how can we serve both the existing community … and how we serve immigrants,” Laws said. “We want be able to serve everyone in the community.”
Michelle Perry can be reached at 824-7031, ext. 213, or firstname.lastname@example.org.