Olmsted County & The City of Rochester celebrate Welcoming Week; encourage residents and visitors to build connections with immigrants and refugees

Olmsted County Welcoming Week
People of all backgrounds call Olmsted County and the City of Rochester home – including those who were not born in the United States. To recognize the importance of immigrants and refugees in our community and affirm the significance of inclusive spaces to our collective prosperity, Olmsted County and the City of Rochester are celebrating Welcoming Week September 12-20, 2020. Olmsted County issued a Welcoming Week Proclamation on September 1, 2020.  

“Olmsted County’s mission is to provide the foundation of a vibrant community. To achieve that mission, we need to ensure our county is an inclusive, welcoming environment where diversity is celebrated,” said Olmsted County Administrator Heidi Welsch. “Olmsted County is committed to racial and ethnic equity and inclusion of all residents – including immigrants and refugees. This is important to our county’s cultural fabric, economic growth, and quality of life.”  

City Administrator Steve Rymer shares, “The City of Rochester is proud to celebrate our immigrant and refugee community members. Their longstanding, ongoing, and outstanding contributions to our community are incredibly important. The City is committed to a more equitable and inclusive Rochester and we are continually taking the steps to realize our collective vision.”   

How can you get involved during Welcoming Week? 

  • Visit the Rochester Front Door Project: Between Monday, September 14 and Friday, September 18, 2020, photos from the Rochester Front Door Project will be available for viewing in the Government Center Rotunda, outside of the Council/Board Chambers, during Government Center hours. On Saturday, September 19, 2020, the photos will be on display at 125 Live, as a part of the Pop-up Med City Arts Festival. The Front Door Project documents, through photos and narratives, a diverse selection of Rochester neighbors living through the COVID-19 stay-at-home order in April 2020. Following physical distancing protocols, Fagan Studios took the photos while representatives from the United Way and RNeighbors interviewed each household. 
  • Attend the Welcoming America livestream event tomorrow: Welcoming America is hosting a free, livestream event for Welcoming Week on Saturday, September 12, 2020 at 2 p.m. Central which will feature exciting music, dance performances, inspiring personal stories, and more. You may RSVP now for the livestream event or plan to join in right at 2 p.m. on Facebook or YouTube
  • Build connections: If you haven’t already starting building connections with immigrants and refugees in the community, this is a great time to start. There are local organizations to contact to learn more about how you can build connections with these individuals and families in our community such as the Diversity Council and the Intercultural Mutual Assistance Association (IMAA).  
  • Get involved on social media: Are you a welcomer? Do you believe our community is strengthened by diversity? Do you support immigrants and refugees in our area? Show that you are a welcomer by taking a photo of yourself holding a sign. Signs can be downloaded in many languages. When posting to social media, be sure to tag @OlmstedCounty and @CityofRochester and use the hashtags #WelcomingWeek, #CreatingHomeTogether and #rochmn.  

Olmsted County and the City of Rochester also encourage the business community, civic groups, other units of government, and community institutions to adopt initiatives and practices to make this region a welcoming place for new and long-term residents alike.

Olmsted County and the City of Rochester’s commitment to diversity, inclusion, and equity

In 2017, the Olmsted County Board of Commissioners passed a resolution known as One Olmsted. Through One Olmsted, the county has expanded its commitment to and emphasis on diversity, equity, and inclusion. The county has several initiatives and efforts underway in this area including updated performance management criteria to hold employees accountable to their role in being part of a welcoming, inclusive environment; a county study on race and racism as a public health issue; and ongoing diversity training opportunities. 

The City of Rochester officially became the first American city to become an Intercultural City (ICC) at a ceremony held at the City Hall on June 13, 2018. It plans to hire the City’s first Diversity+ Equity + Inclusion Director in 2020.

“Now, more than ever, we must come together as a community with compassion and unity, with welcome and respect, and with a shared vision that all community residents are safe and that civil rights are protected,” continued Welsch.