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Out & About in Cleveland

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NEO Laborfest; Gordon Square Fall Fest; Festival of Light; La Sagrada Familia Health Fair; Parma Chili Cook-off; City Music

On Saturday, October 17th, our first event was the Northeast Ohio Laborfest at the new Max Hayes High School on West 65th Street in Cleveland. Everyone involved believed that it was only appropriate that this event be held at this locations since Mr. Max Hayes played a vital role in the formation of labor unions and advocacy for workers' rights. Mr. Chris Scarella, the Assistant Principal, told us that unions often come here to recruit apprentices particularly in the building trades. He told us that the school is very racially diverse and that that there are good ESL programs for the foreign-born.

As for the program itself, we listened to speeches about different aspects of the history of the labor movement in Ohio by Dr. Michael Pierce from the University of Arkansas, Dr. Mary Triece from the University of Akron, and Mr. Steven Steinglass, Dean Emeritus at the Cleveland-Marshall College of Law.

Afterwards, we asked Dr. Pierce about people who immigrated to the United States and the role that they played. Dr. Pierce told us that their contribution was indeed important but, unfortunately, many people already living in the United States deeply resented that large wave of immigrants who came to this country in the 1890's. As a result immigrants were largely locked out of labor unions until the National Labor Relations Act in 1934.

We were delighted to see our old friend Ms. Sherrie Tollivar serve as moderator for the presentations. Ms. Tollivar is an accomplished actress as well as a social activist and has appeared in many theatrical productions in the Cleveland area. We especially liked seeing the one-person shows that she did where she portrayed Ms. Rosa Parks and Ms. Harriet Tubman.

Other people that we knew who were there were Ms. Debbie Silverstein of Span Ohio, and Mr. Greg Coleridge and Ms. Lois Romanoff from the Monetary Literacy Group.

We talked to several of our friends about the opportunities that would be created if labor unions throughout the world would work more closely together and pass their workers back and forth thus bringing with them a different perspective on the projects being worked on and giving the workers a chance to see places that they normally wouldn't see. The people we talked to believed that this was an area that just might be worth exploring.

Later in the day we had a few minutes so we decided to check out the "Gordon Square Fall Fest Test Flight" which was a joint venture between the Cleveland Public Theatre and the Detroit Shoreway Community Development Organization "to kick off the 2015-2016 theatre season and celebrate the Gordon Square Arts District Neighborhood" which is "the heart of Cleveland's alternative arts community."

Accordingly, there were at least 13 different venues around West 65th and Detroit Avenue featuring all sorts of musical, theatrical and spoken word performances.

We stopped in to see Ms. Robin Pease, a Mohawk descendant, tell a story that the Cherokee tribe has handed down through the ages about the power of words. We checked out Ms. Pease's website, and learned that she is Founding Artistic Director of Kulture Kids, "a non-profit organization dedicated to enhancing arts and cultural awareness for kids of all ages using innovative, participatory, educational theatre programs, workshops and residencies."

She told us that "Native American" is not the term that she would use to describe herself and her heritage; she prefers to say "First Peoples," and she has our backing.

Saturday night we went to the Indian Dance Festival/7th Annual Festival of Light that took place at Independence Middle School on Archwood Road in Independence.

Our friend, Mr. Bharat Kumar, has put together this annual event for the last seven years because he is eager to share his culture with others.

We decided to get up there and participate so we took part in a simple exercise where we danced in circular motion around the center of room.

Of course, there was food provided by the Saffron Patch so we had a dinner of Khichu (gluten-free rice flour) and Aloo Tikke (potatoes).

Among the other attendees was Mr. Jaywant Masurekar of KeyBanc Capital Markets who we first met exactly one week prior at the Bridge Builders event at the zoo. We asked Mr. Sridhar Gururha about a poster that displayed the word "Bollywood" and learned that "Bollywood" pertains to the Indian film industry which was significant because we were at a dance event and, from what Mr. Gururha told us, most Indian films contain a lot of dancing and maybe five or six songs.

When he saw that we worked for Margaret W. Wong and Associates, Mr. Gururha told us that he first came to the United States as a college student from India and decided that he wanted to stay here. Very soon now, he will be a permanent resident. As far as maintaining family ties, his parents visit him each year.

Finally, we met Ms. Beverly from Middleburg Heights who was there because she had never been to an Indian event before and was curious. She said that what she saw going on here was "most impressive" and she looked forward to attending another cultural event in the near future and asked us how she could find one.

We told her to go to her computer; type in clevelandpeople.com; press enter" and then just take her pick!

On Sunday, we had made arrangements to table at a health fair at La Sagrada Familia on Detroit Avenue on Cleveland.

Unfortunately, there was a mix up and the fair was cancelled but Father Robert Reidy told us to go ahead and table in the church hall if we wanted to. We decided that we did want to so we set up our table for an hour next to some tables where people were having their luncheon after mass.

Mr. Richard Estremera from Key Bank was there with his family so he walked over and said hello.

Just before we took down, a person approached us saying that a friend of hers from Mexico is marrying a U.S. citizen and may need our services to help her with the paperwork. Even though things didn't go as expected, it was well worth our time to be there.

Our next stop was the 13th Annual Chili Cook-off organized by Parma City Council President Sean Brennan at Red Circle Bar and Lanes on State Road in Parma.

We see Councilman Brennan, also a high school teacher, at the City Club with his students quite frequently and, for some reason, we can't resist attending the chili cook-off even though we cannot eat chili but certainly concede that it smells quite good.

Many local political people were in attendance including Cuyahoga County Councilman Dale Miller and Parma Mayor Tim DeGeeter. Due to the cold weather, there was not as many people there but the turnout was still over 100 which was very okay with Councilman Brennan.

While we waited to see who won the chili contest, we talked to Mr. Dan McCarthy who publishes the "Parma Observer" who told us that there is a very significant number of people who immigrated to the United States from the Ukraine living in Parma. In fact his editor at the newspaper is first generation Ukrainian and is also a Navy vet and holds another responsible job at the VA.

It was soon time to announce the winners and the 2nd place award went to Mr. Jacob Durda who is known for the various meets that he uses for his chili. In the past Mr. Durda has used spam, elk, pheasant, rabbit, and venison. This year, 2015, he won for incorporating wild boar meat into his recipe. And for first place...it went to Mr. Tom Denk for his "firehouse" chili which is quite popular-in fact, this was his third win for it in thirteen years.

Our last event for the day took us to the Church of the Gesu on Miramar Blvd. in University Heights for a CityMusic Cleveland concert that featured world famous Japanese violinist Ms. Sayaka Shoji and was conducted by the prominent Israeli artist, Mr. Avner Dorman.

According to the program notes, Ms. Shoji was "generously sponsored by Dr. Hirayuki Fujita and Quality Electrodynamics (QED)" We had met Dr. Fujita before at the Asian Pacific Islanders conference at the Ariel Center and know him to be a good friend of Ms. Margaret W. Wong.

We got to meet Dr. Ronald Strauss, MD, the president of the organization who graciously posed for a photograph and explained to the attendees that it was an honor to be associated with CityMusic because it is "an orchestra with a social conscience, having highlighted through music, as well as educational programs, the plight of homeless children, the great contribution of refugees settling in Northeast Ohio, and the Holocaust."

What was stunning to us was the number of people that we knew who were also in attendance here, including Mr. Sam Tanious from CAMEO, Ms. Lois Romanoff who we had seen the day before at the LaborFest at Max Hayes High School, and Mr. Jim Brokloff that we had seen that very day at La Sagrada Familia.

We sat with a woman named Sue who told us that she had been following CityMusic since it was founded twelve years ago because it is a good combination of older and younger musicians, it has a social conscience, they seek out uncommon places to perform, they charge no fee for people to watch them and select some "very unusual pieces" to perform.

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