By Rod Lee
If enthusiasm counts for anything, organizers of the Uxbridge Cultural Fair may be well on their way to fostering a more tolerant atmosphere in town.
Cindy Scott, Marisol Azize, Erica Chick and their cohorts make up a group that is small in number but big in ambition. They launched the Uxbridge Cultural Fair with a pot-luck meal in the community house behind the Town Common last year as a reaction to some derogatory postings on social media. Ms. Scott is Middle Eastern. Ms. Azize is Puerto Rican. Ms. Chick is Korean.
This September, Deborah Kennedy, who owns A Touch of Magick, graciously offered the backyard of the Kennedys’ property on S. Main St. for the event. This gave the all-volunteer Uxbridge Cultural Fair folks a perfect rustic setting on a bright autumn afternoon in which to mount a renewed call for acceptance of minorities.
Last year, Ms. Scott said, “we didn’t know what we were doing except we wanted to bring the community together.” This year the organizers stepped up their initiative. There was Middle Eastern food; Celtic music; Irish step dancers; and remarks by several speakers including Josh Howard who is pastor of Valley Chapel in Uxbridge.
Mr. Howard talked of “changing the culture;” of “less finger pointing and more thumbs up.” Quoting Carl Lentz who is lead pastor of Hillsong Church in New York City, Mr. Howard said people should “trade to-do lists for to-be lists”—to be kinder toward others. “How do you want people to feel after they meet you?” he asked. In his case, he wants them to feel as if there was “value” in the encounter.
“We want to make this the best place it can be,” he said.
Taking her turn at the microphone, Asima Silva, who is Muslim, the mother of five children, a member of the Wachusett School Committee and a radio voice, read essays two of her young ones wrote including that of a daughter who concluded the piece with the statement “I hope you understand I’m just an American girl.”
There is too much misunderstanding and too many stereotypes at work, Ms. Silva said.
Ms. Chick, a longtime resident of the town of Uxbridge and a filmmaker (she produced “Reframing Islam”), said the goal of the Uxbridge Cultural Fair and organizers’ efforts in general is to promote “inclusion” and “diversity.”
Samantha Markey, who is queer, told her audience that she was a fan of the TV show “Friends” but is now uncomfortable watching it and “looking at things I used to like,” that she thought were funny then but now views as offensive.
Ms. Scott is active in town with the Uxbridge Dog Park Committee, in working on behalf of Pout Pond and in soliciting donations for New Hope. She said that while her group has no immediate plans for a more concerted advocacy, it trusts that its message of cultural acceptance, like that of Uxbridge second graders who stage a cultural show each year, will resonate and be applauded.
Contact Rod Lee at [email protected] or 774-232-2999.