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Out & About in Cleveland

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March for Science Cleveland; Earthfest 2017

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On Saturday, April 22nd, our first event was "March for Science Cleveland" which took place that morning in Public Square. It was one of 500 such actions taking place throughout the world.

Before we attended the March we did some online research regarding the reasons for it and we soon found an enlightening press release from the "Center for Biological Diversity" dated April 20th that read in part, "the Trump administration has denied the international scientific consensus on climate change, reportedly censored government scientists, and proposed massive funding cuts to federal science and health agencies. Executive Orders to start the rollback of the Clean Power Plan, lift the federal moratorium on coal leasing on public lands, and green-light the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines pose major threats to Americans' health and environment and the world's climate."

The press release further read, "in the face of science suppression, the March for Science in D.C. and more than 500 cities around the world seeks to celebrate the critical role science plays in good public policy. The march recognizes that scientists cannot stay silent in the face of policies that delegitimize science, and it supports science education and increasing equity, diversity, and accessibility in the sciences."

On the Friday night before the March we made a sign that read "Support Immigrant Scientists" on one side and "Appreciate Immigrant Scientists" on the other in lieu of the wonderful contributions that immigrant doctors and scientists have made to the United States. Interestingly, while we were at the March, we spoke to a young woman named Caitlin who was once treated by an immigrant doctor and advised us to check out immigrantdoctors.org to learn more about how much they have helped people particularly in Ohio, Michigan, West Virginia, Indiana and Kentucky

Another person that we talked to in Public Square was Mr. Erik Meinhardt, Vice President of External Affairs for the "Stonewall Democratic Club" who told us that one of the March's leaders, Dr. Patricia Princehouse visited the Club and mentioned the problems that doctors and scientists from the six Travel Ban countries (Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Yemen) are having when they try to come to the U.S. for conferences.

We estimate that maybe 2,000 people were there in Public Square to take part in the March and attend the rally that preceded it. Along these lines the speakers that we heard from were Dr. Princehouse and Mr. Martins Krebs, co-directors of the March; Dr. Aparna Bole, Pediatrician at University Hospitals Rainbow Babies and UH Sustainability Manager; Dr. Evalyn Gates, Director and CEO of the Cleveland Museum of Natural History; Dr. Hazel Marie, Professor and Chair of Mechanical Engineering at Youngstown State University; and Dr. Emmitt Jolly, Associate Professor in the Dept. of Biology at CWRU.

We especially liked a speech given by Ms. Leslie Cuellar Vite who is a graduate student in cancer research and the child of Mexican immigrants who was born here in the United States. She talked about how her father used to frequently cross the U.S./Mexican border in order to find work so that money could be sent home. Eventually he was allowed to remain in the U.S. due to the immigration reform that occurred in the 1980's and was able to bring his family to join him. Her father was a real inspiration to her because, even though he only had a second grade education, he proved to be a real engineer when he both designed and built the house she grew up in. She talked about her early schooling and how she was introduced to the wonders of science through a special program in the San Francisco Bay area. It taught her to be inquisitive and to not accept the natural order of things. She believes that in the area of science, diversity is essential because ideas can come from all over the world.

Later in the day, after the rally and March had concluded, we received news that Mr. Erik Meinhardt had posted on Facebook that "the March for Science Cleveland was a success with huge turnout! The organizers did a fabulous job and showed the world that Cleveland is energized to stand up for fact-based policymaking! Thanks everyone for coming out to this awesome event!"

In addition the day of April 22nd just happened to also be Earth Day so we hurried over the Cuyahoga County Fairgrounds immediately after leaving downtown Cleveland so that we could catch part of "Earthfest 2017".

As we were pulling into the parking lot/field, we met Cleveland City Council President Kevin Kelley who had just gotten through speaking at the opening ceremonies. Other dignitaries that we encountered at the Fairgrounds who had taken part in the opening ceremonies were Ohio State Senator Michael Skindell and former Ohio State Representative Mike Foley who, since February, 2015, is the Director of the Department of Sustainability for Cuyahoga County.

We were certainly hungry after marching through the downtown so we treated ourselves to "Pina Colada Bowl" consisting of a healthy mixture of coconut rice, stir fry veggies, tempeh, and pineapple.

We then walked around and inspected the various exhibits devoted to such things as clean transportation, environmental and energy sciences, local and sustainable food, clean water, and green home and garden.

There were other groups tabling too and so we encountered Ms. Minna Mortensen who we used to see each year when we attended the Danish Christmas Party. Ms. Mortensen was at Earthfest representing "AFS Intercultural Programs" which encourages people in the U.S. to host exchange students from other countries.

Ms. Mortensen introduced us to two young ladies named Malvina and Anna who were respectively from France and Austria and now (for the next 10 months) living in Fairview Park and attending its high school. We talked with Malvina and Anna for a moment and learned they were really enjoying their time in Northeast Ohio and learning a lot about the U.S.

As the AFS brochure stated, "there's no typical host family-they reflect the wonderful diversity of the U.S. population. What unites them is a common sense of warmth, kindness, and curiosity about other cultures of the world."

That evening we attended the Cleveland American Middle East Organization's (aka CAMEO) 47th Anniversary Celebration and Installation of Officers Banquet at St. Elias Cultural Center on Memphis Avenue in Brooklyn.

For the occasion, "Margaret W. Wong & Associates" bought a large ad in the souvenir booklet and several staff members attended the banquet including Ms. Wong, herself; Mr. Francis Fungsang; Mr. George Koussa and ourselves.  Being sworn in as Recording and Corresponding Secretary was Ms. Sara Elaqad who once worked for us and is now the Curriculum and Outcomes Manager for "Boys Hope Girls Hope" in Garfield Heights. Another former staffer in attendance was Ms. Malak Jadallah who was our colleague when we both worked for U.S. Congressman Dennis J. Kucinich years ago.

Basically, it was a relaxing evening with plenty of time to network and visit with friends. Accordingly we spent some time visiting with Mr. Ray Farris who told us about the "United Aramoon Society" another organization that he was proud to be a part of composed of men from Lebanon or of Lebanese descent devoted to the service of others. We also talked with Mr. Matthew Clever, the personal bailiff to Judge Janet Rath Colaluca who was there too. During dinner, we had a good time sitting with Cleveland Municipal Court Judge Jimmy L. Jackson, Jr. and his wife Ms. Amy R. Jackson, a Magistrate in the Foreclosure/Quiet Title/Partition division of Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court.

Before dinner the officers were all sworn in by Cuyahoga County Executive Armond Budish who said that he liked CAMEO outings because he always been treated like a friend there.

After dinner, Mr. Pierre Bejjani, the President of CAMEO, talked about the purpose of the organization and how it serves as a meeting place for people of Middle Eastern descent and their friends to come together and make their voices heard on local political matters and thus contribute to the well-being of Northeast Ohio.

Mr. Bejjani concluded by presenting a surprise birthday cake to CAMEO board member, Dr. Mansoor Ahmed who was quite stunned as well as quite touched by the gesture.

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Probably the reasons why CAMEO is so special were best accounted for by Cleveland City Councilpersons Zack Reed and Brian Cummins who presented a tribute from the City of Cleveland.

Councilperson Reed said that one can talk about diversity but this organization plays it out every day; "they walk the walk as well as talk the talk." It sees that diversity is not leaving someone behind-it involves pulling each other up and making it to the top of the mountain. Thus, CAMEO has served us well for 47 years and we look forward to it serving us for another 47 years.

Councilperson Cummins said that being in the presence of CAMEO is like being with family members. He went on to note that the Middle Eastern communities in this country have been under political fire lately but are undeniably very important to the U.S. and its welfare. Councilperson Cummins then upheld CAMEO because it sets an outstanding example of "non-partisanship" and the ability to bring people together.

By:

Michael Patterson

Community Liaison,

Margaret W. Wong & Assoc. Co., LLC

APRIL 21, 2017