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Celebrating Cleveland's Multi-Cultural Neighbors; 1st Annual Night at the Races

After we left the library on Saturday, we went to a gathering titled "The Global Table" at Cleveland Hostel on West 25th Street.

On the flyer that we received, it was described as "a community potluck celebrating Cleveland's multi-cultural neighbors." Also attending was Ms. Jazmin Long (who we had just talked to at the library) and several of our friends from "Global Cleveland" which helped get the word out about this event. The time allotted for it was from 3pm to 6pm but we could only stay for an hour; yet the upstairs gallery in the Hostel was full of people so we suspected that this was only the beginning and that many more would come before 6pm. 

While we were present, there certainly was a eclectic choice of foods that included rouladen (German), mudjanhara (Iranian), shepherd's pie (Irish), chocolate macaroons (Italian/Jewish), paella (Spanish), rigatoni (Italian), red pepper dip (Mexican), savory pastry (Turkish), green peas and chicken (Egyptian) and a couple of good ol' USA dishes like sloppy joes and deviled egg potato salad (the latter was brought by ourselves).

We congratulated the principal organizers who were Ms. Becca Ritterspach from the "Great Lakes Brewing Company" and Ms. Hattie Cotz and Ms. Ashley Shaw both from "Ohio City, Inc." as well as Mr. Mark Raymond who owns the Hostel. 

We also got to meet a family who immigrated to the United States from Turkey in 2009 who told us that this was the first multicultural event that they had attended here.

The reason that we had to leave the "Global Table" so early was that we had to get over to the "McGregor Home" on Private Drive in East Cleveland for the 1st annual "Night at the Races" put on by the Heights-Hillcrest Chamber of Commerce (HHRC) for which "Margaret W. Wong & Associates" purchased an ad.

Just like the event that we attended at the West Side Irish American Club a few weeks ago, it featured simulated races featuring horses with wacky names like "Schnoodle Express", "Hoof Hearted", "Tired Tuna", and "A Horse with No Name." The announcer was Mr. Rich Kozub, a fun guy who does this sort of thing on weekends; during the week he is a teacher of government at Parma Heights High School.

We hadn't been to an HHRC program for a while so it was good catching up with old friends like Mr. Mark Pinto and Mr. Jay Fernandez from the "Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses" program at Tri-C. We also enjoyed talking about current events and potential political candidates with Mayor Georgine Welo and former Councilman David Miller both from South Euclid.

To be sure, in additional to the horse races, there were quite a few raffles and the most contested one involved the winning of a wheel barrel full of...shall we say...spirits. It was finally won by a young woman who, when asked what she planned to do with her coveted acquistion, shrugged and smiled before vocalizing the obvious, "I guess I'll have a party!"

Earlier in the week we received an email from the Interreligious Task Force on Central America (IRTF) inviting us to carpool to Goodale Park in Columbus to take part in a march/rally on behalf of the "Fair Food Program" organized and put forth by the Coalition of the Immokalee Workers (CIW) which we respect for its achievements particularly those involving the elimination of human trafficking and gender-based violence in the workplace.

Accordingly to what we have read and been told, its "Fair Food Program" launched in 2011 has done a lot in terms of increasing farmworker wages as well as other basic protections for workers. Such fast-food giants as  "McDonalds", "Taco Bell", "Subway" and "Burger King" have signed Fair Food Agreements, but "Wendy's" has thus far preferred to stick to its own supplier code of conduct which CIW contends is not strong enough.

Thus the goals of the action that day in Columbus was to put more pressure on "Wendy's" and to show solidarity for the CIW. 

Since many of the farmworkers are immigrants both documented and undocumented, we decided to head over to Goodale Park on our own and show support while learning what we could learn. There were certainly some excellent speeches which made convincing cases for the "Fast Food Program" including those of local clergy, farmworkers themselves, activists who had journeyed here from as far away as New England and New Jersey, and Columbus Councilperson Elizabeth C. Brown, the daughter of our friend U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown.

Another articulate speaker was Mr. Victor Diaz, an organizer from "Migrant Justice." We later looked up his name and learned as of last year he was involved in deportation proceedings regarding his immigration status.

Along these lines, we talked with a young man who had immigrated legally to the U.S. from the United Kingdom to be with his fiancé/wife. This young man from the United Kingdom expressed great empathy for the undocumented because even though he, himself, was successfully meeting all of the requirements, he found them to be quite exhausting and could only imagine how tough it must be for someone in less fortunate circumstances. He freely admitted that he was quite fortunate because he was white and he spoke English. Yet he knew people who lived in his neighborhood who he strongly suspected were undocumented and were quite nervous and keeping a low profile at this time due to the recent crackdown by ICE.

It was good that we didn't carpool because we had to leave early due to a rainstorm; we would have liked to have stayed but since we have had pneumonia three times, we couldn't take the chance of catching a cold. We really admired the committed people who stayed (which thankfully was almost all of those who turned out) even though it meant cutting holes in a large plastic lawn/leaf bad and using that as their only protection against the storm.   


Michael Patterson

Community Liaison,

Margaret W. Wong & Assoc. Co., LLC