About a month ago, Dominica and I were feeling very discouraged by the local and national news that the Flathead Valley was receiving for the neo-Nazi groups and individuals that are active here. We were also hearing about an increase of hate speech in schools as well as white supremacist propaganda being left on people’s cars and hidden in local businesses. However, we knew that this vocal group of extremists with their racist agenda represents only a minority of the population living here. So many of us in the Flathead Valley see diversity – not only of ethnicities but also of cultures, religions, sexual orientations, perspectives and abilities – as a strength that enriches our community. We felt that we needed to bring people together to celebrate that diversity and openly reject racism and other forms of oppression.
This gathering will take place on north Central Avenue, beside Depot Park, on January 7 from 10:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. Community leaders of various backgrounds will talk about the importance of accepting others, and local musicians will perform. We hope to bring in renowned Blackfeet singer/storyteller Jack Gladstone and his daughter Mariah. We will also be renting a stage with a tent so that our musicians can perform at their best, protected from the elements. We’ve found that putting on an outdoor event in the winter in Montana comes with its own costly challenges!
As this event’s vision and potential have grown, so have our financial needs. Many amazing local businesses have offered their support, but others have hesitated because they worry that putting their name on an event like this might alienate some of their clientele. There are also only two of us trying to accomplish this enormous feat, with the help of some supportive friends. We both have full-time and challenging occupations – one teaching kindergarten and the other raising a toddler. With all of the many demands of organizing an event of this magnitude, our time to fundraise has been limited.
In order to pull off our vision of a truly quality event that unites and uplifts our community, we felt the need to turn to our friends. We hope that you can support our cause with a donation of any amount – nothing is too small! We also encourage each of you to think about doing something of this nature in your own town. Throughout our nation there is a great need to bring people together in love and acceptance.