First Parish in Waltham will offer “Multicultural Waltham Connect” an evening of conversation on November 10 from 7 to 9 PM, at 50 Church Street, Waltham. The event is free and open to the public. Waltham Connect is offered twice a year by First Parish, a Unitarian Universalist congregation. Each features a different theme. A key feature of a “Connect” is that everyone gets to be involved in conversations about timely themes. On November 10 participants will engage with each other and with panelists Waltham Councillor-At-Large-elect & activist Carlos Vidal, Genoveva Tavera from WATCH, and Rev. Paul S. Reid from Hope International Church. Refreshments and child care will be available.
First Parish offers this event for several reasons. First, to celebrate Waltham’s identity. We have a long and proud history. We boast of a diverse population from all parts of the world. It is estimated that approximately 20% of Waltham’s population is comprised of people born outside the U.S. Moody Street looks like a little U.N. with stores and restaurants offering options from Asia, Mexico, India, Central America, Africa, Italy, and more. But there is more to creating a truly welcome community besides shopping or savoring ethnic food. It takes work, an open heart, and a shared spirit of inquiry to unite a community.
A second reason for the event is to live by the Unitarian Universalist (UU) principles. Two UU principles are “to value the inherent worth and dignity of every person” and “to strive for justice, equity and compassion in human relations.” Waltham Connect is a way to live those principles. Many populations in Waltham live on the fringes. Due to language and cultural issues, many lack a voice. While strides are being made, our government is not yet representative of the Waltham community. What can we do to rectify this? What would it take to overcome some of the barriers that keep us apart? How can we work together to make Waltham a truly welcoming community? These are complex questions; there are no easy answers. Solutions are discovered when a community makes an effort to connect and listen to each other. This will be the first of two conversations addressing this complex issue. The second Waltham Connect will be offered in the spring of 2016.