Invite your neighbor in

As I poked my head into the elementary classrooms looking for Shattuck – St. Mary’s (SSM) students on ‘Hands Across Faribault’ day, I was surprised by what I saw. And it wasn’t just one classroom, but every classroom. The vast majority of the children were of Native American, African, Latino, Asian , and European descent.
I was making my way down the hallway still looking for the SSM students, pondering what I was seeing, when a small group of adults came around the corner. Their badges said that they were parent volunteers. Here’s the thing: they were all men and they were all African American.

In southern Minnesota, Faribault is a community surrounded by agriculture and steeped in history connected with the Episcopal Church in Minnesota.  It seems to be at the heart of the changing face of our neighbors. In fact, earlier in the day I had the opportunity to spend time with the Mayor of Faribault, who was born and raised in that city.  He shared with me how significantly the demographics have changed just in his lifetime.

I am sure that this is true for a lot of us. The neighborhoods we grew up in are growing more diverse. The question, of course, is do we know our neighbors. And if so, have we taken the time to ask them to share their stories with us.

There is an old Minnesotan story that I was told a long time ago. “If your car breaks down in front of a Minnesotan’s home, they will be right out to help you. However, once your car is running, they will turn around and walk right back into their house without any thought of inviting you in.” Those who shared this story quickly followed up with, “It seems like the folks who helped were being rude, when in fact they are just going back into their house to be with their people, and their assumption is that you want get on down the road to your people.”

As our world and our neighborhoods are changing, we have a great opportunity to invite others to share with us about “their people” and for us to share the story of “our people.” Who knows what we might learn.

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