Everybody Wants to Belong
Everyone wants to belong, and after two years of the pandemic, HUE (Humans United for Equality) plans to bring together the community with the Celebration of Unity after a two-year hiatus. Volunteers for HUE and sponsoring churches and organizations canceled the annual event in 2020 and postponed its scheduled return last September. Finally, on April 23, the Celebration of Unity returns. It’s unique among the community events in the city because it’s designed to be free, open to families, and chock full of activities for everyone from toddlers to adults.
HUE member Jennifer Abbott said the Celebration of Unity excites her because it celebrates our county’s diversity and strength, the same strength that represents the American experiment.
“It’s kind of like that saying on the dollar bill, E. Pluribus Unum- out of one many,” said Abbott, who thinks this event is unique compared to other cultural events throughout the year. “What other activities do we have where everyone is invited, where it is free, and it brings us together to celebrate our differences? Everyone should feel welcome. Everyone should feel seen and invited.” She hopes it will foster a sense of belonging for everyone in our community.
Abbott invented one of the popular activities at the Celebration, The Game of Life, which she has tweaked and improved over the previous events. This year, she and her husband Michael Abbott invited Wabash students to use game design to put a new spin on traditional fair games like the basketball toss, corn hole, hula hoops, plinko, and twenty-one. Players will be given a character card and experience walking in another’s shoes as they compete. While the Game of Life is for older players, parents can have their kids make friendship pins and handprints for change. They can design a freak flag, work with a videographer to share about different kinds of families, and test their knowledge of world religions.
One of the goals of the event is to feature food, music, and performances from many continents. Though visitors can grab a free hotdog, let their kids jump in the bounce house or climb the rock wall (also free), tacos may be purchased from Aki Le Voy and soul food from Norvells while enjoying performances by Irish dancers, the mariachi band Zelaya, and Dance by Deborah. The event will be a culturally rich celebration.
Additional sponsoring organization will also have activities. The League of Women Voters will offer kids a chance to learn how voting works by filling out a ballot and remind parents how to vote in the May primary. Other booths will offer activities and goodies. The Carnegie Museum will give out bags to carry the free swag and crafts.
Beyond the fun, HUE hopes that visitors will have conversations with one another.
“We’ve been longing for that person connection and that’s what HUE is all about,” said Kochert. “We want actual human connection, face to face without a device. We want conversation. It will help bring us out of this funk we are in as a human society.” She hopes it will be a springboard for unity and an appreciation for the diversity that makes communities resilient.
For those who want to learn more, go to HUE’s new website: https://www.huemoco.org/, or volunteer with the MoCo’s new volunteering app PointApp.org or https://lwvmontinco.org. Most of all come to Pike Place on April 23 from 4-8pm and enjoy one another’s company.
– The League of Women Voters is a nonpartisan, multi-issue political organization which encourages informed and active participation in government. For information about the League, visit the website www.lwvmontcoin.org; or, visit the League of Women Voters of Montgomery County, Indiana Facebook page.