Helping our amigos
My husband and I moved to Aspen in 2006 from Portland, Oregon. In our Portland neighborhood, our house was sandwiched between a lesbian couple on one side and a family from Tonga on the other who wore their traditional grass skirts on Sundays and celebrated several times a year by slaughtering and roasting a pig in their backyard. Two doors away lived Snoop Dogg’s Uncle Rio, who had a barbecue truck. He roasted salmon for our wedding. I am in favor of greater diversity, not less.
My first year in Aspen, I experienced a bit of culture shock. Joyfully, we have lived here for 11 years. Recently, I’m observing our community with refreshed eyes and I believe it is because of the following series of experiences that at first I might not have linked.
Last summer I had the pleasure of working with Hudson Reed Ensemble’s “Shakespeare in the Park.” The production in its entirety was multi-generational and multi-cultural. Everyone brought dedication and talent. It is the nature of theater to come to know each other and gain deeper understanding through our efforts.
In the fall I worked on voter registration with my friend Cari. We presented information sessions to English as a second language classes, doing our best to demonstrate the registration process and field questions to those eligible to vote.
Most recently, I was part of the creative team Voices. Our project was an intense immersion with Basalt High School students who chose the theme of “panic” and gave artistic expression to personal experiences of fear and panic. About half these wonderful students are Latinos and questions about the border and deportation are real fears.
Each of these engagements deepened my awareness and connection to communities within our community: creative communities, educational communities and, in particular, the Latino community.
This is my refreshed observation. When I reach out, what I receive feels much greater than what I give. I feel like my glasses were cleaned because wherever I go — the grocery store, the coffee shop, the hospital, the Glenwood Mall, any of our schools — exchanges always include a brown-eyed smile and a chatty exchange with a musical accent. My day is richer for it.
With the current challenges to immigration and the border, I try to imagine what our community would look like or how it would feel without all our amigos. My answer: devastated. It would feel devastated.
Some caring, hard-working Roaring Fork Valley residents have formed Amigos de Inmigrantes, Friends of Immigrants, in concert with the American Civil Liberties Union. Our mission is to be a source of clear information for our Latino community, to address questions and fears, to communicate friendship and recognition of our bigger and beautifully diverse community. If you would like to be an amigo with us, please visit our Facebook page and join us. https://www.facebook.com/Amigos-de-Inmigrantes-712081008974558/?hc_ref=SEARCH&ref=nf
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Richard Compton’s life will be celebrated in an informal gathering on Oct. 23 from 1-3 p.m. at the Pine Creek Cookhouse. All are welcome.