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Out & About in Cleveland

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The Future is Female; Cinco De Mayo celebration at Art House, Inc; Annual Abrahamic Traditions Dinner; 69th Annual Polish Constitution Day Parade

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On Saturday, May 6th, our first event was the Cuyahoga Democratic Women's Caucus (CDWC) 8th Annual Brunch entitled "The Future is Female" which took place at the Cleveland Botanical Garden in University Circle.

The highlight was a speech by U.S. Congressperson Maxine Waters from Los Angeles, California (who received the 2017 CDWC Courage Award) in which she issued a blistering attack on President Trump and his administration touching upon such issues as plans to roll back Dodd Frank and the Affordable Care Act; relations with President Putin of Russia and other foreign policy matters; the President's sexist comments about women that came out during the 2016 campaign and his questionable ethics as a businessperson; possibilities for impeachment and/or resignation; and, certainly, immigration. U.S. Congressperson Waters let it be known that in late January, 2017just after the Executive Order was issued pertaining to the initial travel ban there were 10,000 people of all races demonstrating against it using bullhorns to get their message across and she was one of them.

As Ms. Cynthia Demsey, said in her introductory remarks, most people believed that in 2017 this annual brunch would be a celebration of the first woman but instead we now have a "national nightmare". Nevertheless, Ms. Demsey went on to say (and this was also printed in the program notes) that "we are enthusiastic and hopeful that in 2017, when women around the world marched together in a show of unity, the impact of that energy will be manifested in a tidal wave of political participation by women at the local, state, and national levels. And it seems to be happening! Across this country, and here in our own county and state, women are running for office in an exciting show of power and confidence!"

One of these very promising young officeholders is the Hon. Elizabeth Brown who is a member of the Columbus City Council and the recipient of the CDWC Catalyst Award. We had seen Councilperson Brown speak before at a rally in Columbus in March, 2017 and we very impressed by her as we were on this day when she addressed the CDWC. She spoke about how her family background (she is the daughter of U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown) motivated her to pursue a career in public service and we learned that her maternal grandmother was a Spanish teacher who encouraged her students to explore the world around them and would unquestionably be "horrified" by the Trump administration's attitude towards immigrants and refugees. Along these lines, Councilwoman Brown recounted her own experience when she accompanied an undocumented woman to her ICE hearing; thankfully things when all right in this instance but we were glad when Councilperson Brown let it be known that such proceedings do tend to go better for the undocumented when a public official goes with them to their hearings.

At this brunch, we were very delighted to watch two very special people, Ms. Amy Hanauer, Founding Executive Director of Policy Matters Ohio, and Ms. Lana Moresky, who has effectively advocated for Human Rights throughout her entire life, be recognized with awards. Ms. Hanauer received the 2017 CDWC Valor Award and no one was more worthy of the 2017 Trailblazer Award than Ms. Moresky. It was especially moving when a letter from former Secretary State Hilary Clinton was read in which she praised Ms. Moresky by writing, "I am so grateful that women of all ages can look look to you as a tenacious leader."

Among the many people (both women and appreciatively a good number men) who were present at this affair were former U.S. Representative and Administrator of the St. Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation Betty Sutton, former Ohio State Rep. Connie Pillich who gave up her post to run for Ohio State Treasurer in 2014 who have announced their candidacies for Governor of Ohio in 2018 and Mayor Nan Whaley of Dayton who might be running too.

We had time to some networking enjoyed meeting and conversing with Ms. Kari Oatman, a candidate for Mayor of East Cleveland, who is very concerned about local economic development in the area and is exploring possibly making use of EB5 process to attract investors. During lunch, we sat next to and visited with Ms. Julie Donaldson, a candidate for Cleveland City Council Ward 4.

In addition, we chatted with Professor Mark K. Cassell (who we saw earlier in the week at the Happy Dog) about the Presidential election in France that would be taking place the next day on Sunday. As it turned out, Mr. Emmanuel Macron won and we were relieved because he was more moderate than his opponent. Accordingly, we hope that he will be able to put together a coalition and govern effectively.

After we left the brunch, we had some errands to do but managed to get over to the Cinco De Mayo celebration at Art House, Inc. on Dennison Avenue just as Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson honoring the event organizers (namely Mr. Eduardo Rodriguez) with a citation that read in part that Cinco de Mayo "recalls the indomitable spirit of the Mexican people who continue to make significant contributions to our communities, and also serves to enhance appreciation for precious freedom and its value in our daily lives."

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We stayed for a half hour or so and visited with such people as Ms. Lilly Coreno Moreno who has traveled extensively to promote Mexican dance and culture; Ms. Lisa Roman, the Hispanic Liaison for Cleveland City Hall; our dear friend Ms. Mari Galindo-DaSilva, Language Access and Communication Services Coordinator at The MetroHealth System; and, of course, Mr. Rodriguez who is the Program Manager for the Hispanic Alliance Leadership Development Initiative which "seeks to provide professionals and emerging leaders the training, professional development, networking and community engagement opportunities to contribute to the advancement of the Hispanic community" as stated in its literature.

To be sure, we also enjoyed some excellent corn chips served with guacamole and several kinds of salad.

These delicious corn chips sustained us until it was time for our next event which was the annual Abrahamic Traditions Dinner which took place at the Turkish Cultural Center on Madison Avenue in Lakewood. As is always the case when we visit the Turkish Cultural Center, the food was excellent and most of it was well-suited to our vegetarian diet.

Mr. Murat Gurer, Director of the Center, wisely let his niece Sema, who is part of the Center's youth leadership program, take charge of the gathering. Sema let it be known that this annual event is dedicated to promoting "friendship and understanding" amongst the three Abrahamic faiths which are Christian, Islam, and Judaic. Accordingly, the issue that would be dealt with this evening would be "compassion" which can be defined as "sympathy for the suffering of others, and the tireless effort to free them of it."

She then introduced the speaker who was Reverend James D. Edwards from the United Church of Christ who has lead several congregations over the course of his multi-year tenure. We had a chance to talk at length with Rev. Edwards and found him to be a very kindly person of knowledge and deep conviction.

On this occasion he made use of passages of both the Bible and the Qur'an in the course of his presentation. He also urged us to explore the "Charter for Compassion" whose work he very much believes in which can be found online at charterforcompassion.org One of its quotes that he shared was "we urgently need to make compassion a clear, luminous and dynamic force in our polarized world. Rooted in a principled determination to transcend selfishness, compassion can break down political, dogmatic, ideological and religious boundaries. Born of our deep interdependence, compassion is essential to human relationships and to a fulfilled humanity. It is the path to enlightenment, and indispensable to the creation of a just economy and a peaceful global community."

Along these lines, we asked Reverend Edwards about Biblical passages pertaining to immigrants and refugees, and he recalled one in which the God's people were reminded that they were once immigrants so newcomers should be welcomed and not turned away. He then spoke with a little edge as he shared with us that "that passage was on my mind the day of the Presidential election but don't get me started" as several of us nodded in empathy.

Needless to say, people of several different faiths were there at the Center so someone asked Rev. Edwards what Abraham would think if he could see all of us joining together for a shared experience. Without any hesitation at all, Rev. Edwards replied, "I think he'd be thrilled!"

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The next day was Sunday, May 7th, and our only event was the 69th Annual Polish Constitution Day Parade on Ridge Road in Parma which celebrates the signing of the Polish Constitution on May 3, 1791. Each year since 1948, this joyous and colorful event has been organized by the Polish American Congress in Cleveland and we, ourselves, celebrate their efforts.

This year, just as we did last year, we parked a short distance from Parma Circle where the parade kicked off and walked over to bid our best wishes to its participants which included U.S. Congressperson Marcy Kaptur (the Grand Marshal); Parma Mayor Tim DeGeeter; and Parma City Auditor Brian Day and his wife, Colleen.

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From the Polish community, we greeted old friends like Rev. Father Eric S. Orzech, Mr. Kenneth Milenovic and Mr. Mark Relovsky as well as those from the international community who were taking part like Ms. Erika Puussaar (Estonian) and Ms. Ingrida Bublys (Lithuanian).

Plus many organizations had bands, cars, trucks, and/or floats entered like Normandy High School, Parma High School, Union of Poles in America, Polish Legion of American Veterans Ladies Auxiliary Ohio,  St. Mary's Polish National Catholic Church, Lithuanian American Community, St. Barbara Church, Henryk Sienkiewicz Polish School, Parma Fine Arts Council, and the Cleveland Polka Association.

Several local businesses such as Avalon Jeweler and Mission BBQ were apparent and even the "Ghostbusters" car and crew decided to share in the festivities.

By:

Michael Patterson

Community Liaison,

Margaret W. Wong & Assoc. Co., LLC