Editor’s note: Greg Milo is the organizer of Common Threads Akron.
Akron has strong ties to the international community. So it’s fitting that a new program focus on strengthening those ties through community discussions.
Common Threads Akron is a series of events, each designed to bring people of diverse backgrounds and cultures together to a common space to engage in conversation.
At the February event, Puspa Gajmer and his mates from North Hill’s Himalayan Musu Academy set the mood at Birchwood Supply, Co. with their Nepalese tunes, as interested Akronites packed the space filled with refurbished goods and custom designs. Those in attendance drank and ate in between conversing with new friends.
Common Threads is a collaboration between Global Ties Akron and the Knight Foundation. It’s a perfect relationship, since they share a similar view in what will strengthen Akron.
For 40 years, it’s been the mission of Global Ties Akron to build relationships between Akron and the international community. By hosting international visitors and designing programs for Akron’s schools, Global Ties has worked to create a welcoming Akron environment. Global Ties also realizes that various cultures exist from neighborhood to neighborhood in Akron, and it’s interested in educating Akronites on the strength of their diversity.
The Knight Foundation knows the importance of creating spaces of engagement, where people from one neighborhood meet people from another neighborhood: where neighborhood silos are torn down in favor of open spaces that inspire gatherings.
Behind the engine of Common Threads is the belief that many of us have become so comfortable with our individual worlds that we’ve nearly created our own clans, making it less likely that we have to rely or work with people outside our world.
An Akron of 24 individual neighborhoods that function independently of one another runs the risk of “silo thinking,” where each formulates its own narrative and views the other neighborhoods as just that, the others, and we know what a debilitating mindset that caused the districts in the Hunger Games.
During the first event, refugees and immigrants told their stories, as well as their hopes for a future Akron. Bhim Dhungana told his refugee story of escape from Bhutan into India. Architect and UA instructor Mehrnoush Soroush explained the importance of hubs to help motivate a walking city—the kind she misses in Tehran.
Those in attendance learned a lot, the open forum making it comfortable for attendees to voice questions and to add their own information.
The Rialto Theatre in Kenmore will host the next Common Threads Akron event March 16, 5:30 p.m. where the panelists will be foreign-born UA students. Visit the event page here.
Visit the group’s Facebook page for details.