COLDWATER – Branch County organizations have joined together to create a new experience celebrating our diversity with more than two dozen events through September and October all recognizing our connectivity to each other.
“Cultivating Community” features events at Tibbits Opera House, Branch District Library, KCC Grahl Center, Branch Area Careers Center and other locations throughout the community. The events recognize and celebrate multiple cultures in our community through performances, speakers, book reads, presentations, conversations and food. It begins in September and runs through the month of October.
Cultural performances at Tibbits Opera House include KARAMA: Arab World Music and Dance Celebration Sept. 17 presented through the Smith Memorial Concert, a Hispanic music concert Oct. 1 featuring Celestina Y Los Sanchez, and a Pow Wow Exhibition by the Nottawaseppi Huron Band of the Potawatomi Oct. 8.
Branch District Library will offer a Human Library Oct, 1 in which participants can “check out” a person to learn about their life. Throughout the month the library will also offer Storywalks, Digital Storytelling for teens and a Book Tasting exhibit. The Union Branch will feature a Fiber Arts/Textiles Trunk Show, while KCC Grahl Center will host an exhibit by the Arab American Museum in Dearborn and Tibbits Art Gallery will host an exhibit of local and regional artists themed “America the Beautiful.”
Conversations and presentations include Branch Intermediate School District’s Strategies for Educators: building understanding of the Muslim community Oct. 14; Kellogg Community College Grahl Center’s Student Panel discussion on multicultural experiences Oct. 26, and Safe Zone training to learn and understand the LGBTQ+ Community Oct. 7 at Tibbits.
Events that were already planned, Downtown Coldwater’s Hoptoberfest Oct. 1 on Monroe Street and the Pride Festival Sept. 10 at Parkhurst Park presented by Branch County Pride were included in the schedule as they fit the message of celebrating other cultures and our diversity. Interfaith activities with area churches will include a celebration of a Blessing of Pets on Oct 1 and World Communion Sunday on Oct 2, which promotes Christian unity. Finally, the Amish community in Colon will hold a pie and ice cream social Oct. 17, the local AIRA organization will share a Yemeni Community Event Oct. 16, and the BACC Culinary Arts students will host a global food event Oct. 20. Events conclude with Branch County Community Theatre’s production of “Frankenstein,” the quintessential story of prejudice and fear, at Tibbits Oct 27-29.
More than a year ago, the boards of directors of Tibbits Opera Foundation & Arts Council, Branch County Community Foundation and the Branch Intermediate School District, joined together for a 6-hour training on Diversity and Inclusion. They wanted a way to share the message with the community to build an environment that is more welcoming of each other and the many unique cultures we represent. The effort expanded to include Kellogg Community College Grahl Center, the City of Coldwater, Branch District Library and others until the idea of a community-wide celebration was born.
Details about each event including times, and admission when applicable, can be found at Facebook/CultivatingCommunityBC, cultivatingcommunitybc.weebly.com, or the individual websites of the partner organizations. Additionally, flyers will be distributed throughout the community and available at each location.
Partial funding for the event has been provided by Branch County Women Who Care. Tibbits also receives grant funding from the Michigan Arts & Culture Council as well as the National Endowment for the Arts.