Following the City Council’s unanimous passage on April 14, 2014 of a resolution declaring Greensboro a Welcoming City to immigrants and refugees, the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) and the Welcoming Greensboro Committee have released a 50-page report on the Welcoming Greensboro Initiative. The report details the challenges faced by the city’s immigrant communities and provides comprehensive recommendations for steps to improve equal access to opportunity for all city residents.
The Welcoming Greensboro Committee believes that these steps will not only help immigrant and refugee residents reach their full potential, but will spur greater economic growth and cultural vitality for all who call Greensboro home. By acting on these recommendations, the City of Greensboro will take an important step toward positioning itself as a globally competitive, 21st century city.
During Fall 2013 and Spring 2014, AFSC and the Welcoming Greensboro Committee led 16 community discussions across the city with over 200 immigrants from 23 different countries with varying immigration statuses. Participants voiced their opinions regarding what they liked about living in Greensboro, what challenges they faced, and what suggestions they have for making Greensboro more welcoming.
The Welcoming Greensboro Initiative report, which is being publicly released on June 19 at 11am [we will release an advance copy to reporters on June 18 if requested], shares the outcome of the community conversations and presents the full list of recommendations shared by participants. The recommendations center around increasing language access, increasing access to services and information, increasing access to transportation that reaches immigrant-dense areas, increasing cultural competency of city staff, celebrating diversity, increasing support of immigrant-friendly policies, and expanding immigrant representation on city boards and commissions. As Welcoming Greensboro Committee member Esther Idassi from Tanzania states, "Greensboro is a really diverse place, but you wouldn't know it if you just looked at our city government. We need immigrant and refugee representation on boards so that our government knows what issues our communities are facing. We've got some good ideas too!
The release of the report coincides with the City’s re-starting of the Human Relations Commission (HRC)’s International Advisory Committee, which partners with Greensboro’s international community to analyze the struggles facing the community and formulates recommendations to the HRC, which it may present to City Council. Working with the IAC, we look forward to a collaborative relationship with city departments to make Greensboro more inclusive and welcoming.
Welcoming Greensboro Committee member Teri Wellendorf from Mexico comments, "Members of our community come here with so much hope for a better life. We are willing to work for it. We just want to be a part of the city like everyone else - to share our experiences and offer our ideas for how to make Greensboro and even better place to live."
Greensboro joins a group of over 30 cities nationwide, from New York to Austin to Los Angeles, and Greensboro city officials will now have the opportunity to exchange ideas with these cities to identify what works and what does not. Together with recommendations from local immigrants and refugees, this effort represents an opportunity for Greensboro to fully support all its residents and harness their ideas and hard work to make an even more prosperous and welcoming city.
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