In January, we began our monthly spot on WJON radio. Throughout 2016 we also spoke on KNSI, Rockin’ 101, Mix 94.9, MPR, Fox 9 News, KARE 11 News, and other national and international radio and news shows . We don’t always see eye to eye with the hosts of the shows that we are on, but, that is not what is important to us. Civil dialogue, even with people we vehemently disagree with on certain issues, is a staple of #unitecloud. We believe the old adage that says “you don’t have to agree on anything to be kind to one another”.
In Febraury, we were recognized with a “Courage Award” by CAIR-MN at a banquet in St. Paul. This month we also partnered with Thrivent Financial and Celebration Lutheran Church in Sartell to provide a week of meals to the homeless and hungry in our community at the Salvation Army in St. Cloud. To end the month, #unitecloud garnered national attention when we brought attention to an “FMUSLMS” license plate that was later revoked by our governor.
We teamed up with students from District 742 to bring the Somali Museum of MN to the St. Cloud public library. Many from our community came to view artifacts and cultural art from Somalia. We believe that we are blessed to have a city that is rich in diversity. In Central MN we don’t only have to learn about cultures from around the world in books and movies…we are able to talk with our neighbors and learn first hand through their eyes!
Throughout the school year, we met with the CMPS student group at North Junior High to discuss cultural tensions and how they play out in our local schools. We also spoke in elementary, middle, and high school classes across Central MN, in Becker, and even in the cities! Here at #unitecloud, we don’t believe that the students in our school are our future leaders….they are part of the CURRENT leadership of our area.
We invited our community to stand in unity in response to anti-Muslim speaker Usama Dakdok who was invited to speak at a St. Cloud church. On a rainy evening at the start of a holiday weekend, MN residents of all ages and backgrounds gathered on a sidewalk near the church to promote love, pass out cookies, and have conversations. We wanted to provide a chance for people coming to the talk to learn about their Muslim neighbors FROM their Muslim neighbors, not from someone who flew into town one day and flew out the next.
We had a booth many Wednesdays at Summertime By George this summer. Hundreds of people from Central MN pinned on a world map where they or their ancestors were from! We had beautiful weather each day, but what was even more beautiful was receiving the hugs and support from so many of you that would come up to talk with us and tell us what #unitecloud means to you!
This month, Over 700 volunteers packaged more than 220,000 meals for hungry people in our community. The Better Together leadership team raised over $55,000 from local foundations, faith communities and businesses to pay for the food that was packaged! This event showed the power and goodness that lies in our community…and what we can do when we come together to serve our neighbors.
We were asked to speak as a member of the Sartell Chamber this month. We spoke at many civic and faith groups in 2016, including St. Cloud Rotary, Sartell Chamber, St. Cloud Kiwanis, and St. Cloud Optimist Club, Celebration Lutheran Church (Sartell), Atonement Lutheran Church (St. Cloud), Gustavus Adolphus Church (Foley), First Covenant Church (Mpls) and The Crossing Church (St. Cloud).
After the Crossroads mall stabbing, #unitecloud encouraged our community to #choosepeace and organized a Stand United event on the steps of our courthouse. When our town was hit with this crisis, national media ascended on us in droves and asked us if this set our movement back to square one. We told them no, that this tragedy would not define our community. The love and unity that poured out in the following month was such a beacon of light for the whole world to see! We received many messages from people around the world, thanking us for our work and dedication to peace amidst the pain.
Thanks to the financial support of the Initiative Foundation, Blandin Foundation, and Central MN Community Foundation, #unitecloud teamed up with Green Card Voices to record 20 stories of first generation immigrants in Central MN. The Central MN GCV traveling exhibit was unveiled at Create Community’s 11th annual Conversation on Race.
We were the keynote speaker at SCTCC during their Student Success Day in November. Throughout the year, we also spoke at SCSU classes and met with the SCSU the student government to talk about how to partner with them in 2017. We are so encouraged to hear from college students how important acceptance and love is to them and how they desire for this world to live and breathe peace and harmony.
#unitecloud launched our “Love Your Neighbor” campaign with a Sambusa Sunday event attended by over 500 people. Thanks to the financial support of Microbiologics, each guest received a Sambusa and Somali Tea. Individuals from around MN funded the cost of 500 signs and we partnered with 6 local businesses to make our “Love Your Neighbor” signs available for pick up.
Looking back on 2016 reminded us of how amazing all of your support and love has been for our work of resolving tensions and restoring dignity to ALL people in Central MN! THANK YOU!