By Lourdes Herrera
The Madera Coalition for Community Justice, a community-based organization, has been sponsoring an Interfaith/Intercultural Day for the past 20 years. Each year, it has gotten bigger with more participants and attendees. It started in a backroom of a local church and has since moved to the much more spacious Hatfield Hall at the Madera Fairgrounds for the last six years.
More recently, the local arts council, government, school district and other agencies have joined the effort to support the event along with different groups and participants throughout the greater Madera/Fresno/Merced area.
The overarching goal of the event is to celebrate the great diversity of cultures, national and ethnic groups and religions that we enjoy in the Central Valley. At the end of the day, it is all about engaging local residents, young and old, groups and organizations in sharing and celebrating our differences, kinship, similitude, relationships and harmony and parlaying that into an educational and fun experience. It is this growing partnership that has been the chief reason for the event’s success over the years.
The event features ethnic food samplings, cultural/ethnic artifacts, historic and art exhibits, fashion display, song, dance, musical and martial art performances, poetry reading, spoken word and video storytelling. The theme this year is “After all, we are all immigrants.”
There are many ways that local residents, groups, organizations, schools, classes and clubs can participate either separately or collectively. Examples include a quilt project where panels reflect different ethnic groups; a historical exposition on the Dust Bowl refugees that populate the Central Valley; a time line on the three Abrahamic religions; an exhibit identifying different inventions of African Americans; and different enrichment clubs such as music, fashion, craft, theater and food showcasing their talents that align with the theme of the event. There are no boundaries on how creative, innovative, entertaining and edifying participants can be.
The Madera Coalition for Community Justice is actively seeking presenters (especially from European and African cultures) and participants (performers of all types), and inviting the public to attend the 21st Interfaith/Intercultural Celebration on Jan. 24, 4:30 p.m.–6:30 p.m., at Hatfield Hall, Madera Fairgrounds. For more information, contact Lourdes Herrera at 559-661-1879 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lourdes Herrera is the director of Madera Coalition for Community Justice, a self-help community based organization.