“Cultivating Community” Considered a Good First Step

COLDWATER – Last fall organizers of the Cultivating Community presented nearly two dozen events to celebrate our community’s diversity while embracing our connectivity to each other. Now those organizations seek to continue the conversation with new opportunities and new community input.

As organizers gathered to review the many activities and evaluate the impact of the Cultivating Community Celebration, the overwhelming feeling was it was a good start but there is more to be done. Participating organizations included Tibbits Opera House, Branch Intermediate School District, Branch County Community Foundation, Branch District Library, Kellogg Community College Grahl Center, the City of Coldwater, AIRA, Branch County Pride, Branch County Coalition Against Domestic & Sexual Violence, Branch Area Chamber of Commerce, Young Michigan Dances and Branch County Community Theatre. The events recognized and celebrated multiple cultures in our community through performances, speakers, book reads, presentations, conversations and food. It began in September and ran through the month of October.

The overwhelming response from attendees and organizers was positive. A new initiative was formed, new partnerships were developed and the institutions involved honored the cultures represented with respect. Many of the programs sought to hear from often under-represented voices. The response from the presenters whether they were local residents, students or professional artists affirmed the encouragement they felt through the events.

While appreciating the positive comments as well as the encouraging conversations which developed, the group agreed the number of events in the short time span actually worked against them. It forced people to choose between events diminishing the audiences. In spite of the audience size the comments from attendees of all of the events were overwhelmingly positive. Many acknowledged learning new things.

Organizers plan to continue Cultivating Community. They are looking for individuals and groups willing to assist with the planning. According to Christine Delaney, Tibbits Executive Director and one of the organizers, “The opportunities are as vast and diverse as our community itself. In order to truly reflect Branch County, we need the involvement of all segments.” She adds, “Our goal is to help our community become a welcoming space for everyone.”

A community meeting will be held March 2 at 5:30 pm at The Hope Café, 49 W. Chicago St., Coldwater. Any group or individual interested in giving ideas is welcome. For more information go to cultivatingcommunitybc.weebly.com or contact Tibbits at 517-278-6029 or the Hope Café at 517-462-6249.