Community for Unity
Last week, nearly 100 people gathered in Marietta in honor of support and unity.
Aaron Whited and Laura Serna-Maytorena were both so struck by the tension, strong emotions and negative behaviors that have been dividing our nation (and local community) over the past several weeks, that they decided to host events in honor of those who are hurting, afraid and angry. Originally having planned two separate activities on the same day, they soon learned of each other's events, and it was then decided that more impact could potentially be made with one joined event, in one location.
Whited, a singer-songwriter and musician, hosts open mic night at Serenity Coffee House, and has been a part of several open mic nights throughout his musical career. It was only natural to want to have a community open mic to encourage others to come together and share uplifting songs. He also helped organize the candlelight service at the end of the day, this past Saturday.
"I wanted (the event) to show the local minority (community) members that they have a voice", Whited shared, "and our unquestioned support during this time of transition. I also wanted my son to not just see and hear the bad things (that are happening in the media, and among our friends and families). I wanted him (his son) to see positive people talking in a way that encourages hope and positive change in our community."
Laura Serna-Maytoren, a singer-songwriter and visual artist, viscerally felt the need to be a source of support and encouragement for her friends and family, and herself. Being a Latino and Native American, and having LGBTQ friends and family, Laura felt connected to the fears and strong emotions of many of the people she loves.
Serna-Maytoren met a man named Baoku Moses at the Serpent Mound's Spring Seed Blessing (a Native American Tradition) earlier this year where he'd led a drum circle, and she chanted and sang. They've remained in contact since, and Laura suggested his coming to town to create something impactful.
"We have to stand together at this point", Serna-Maytoren shared, "there is strength in numbers. We have to be visible in our local community, so people will feel less afraid to go about their daily lives. We can live in fear in times of adversity or we can use that climate of fear to build strength in response to this adversity. I choose to find my own strength and encourage others to do the same."
Laura shared there would be many more events to come, to show support and encourage our community to have hope. "Community-building events are a good way to empower people, so that is what we choose to do", she added.
Last Saturday's event was held at the Universalist Unitarian Church in Marietta, and included an open mic hour, a drumming circle with guest Baoku Moses (from Cincinnati, OH), and a candlelight ceremony.
More events to come, throughout the Mid-Ohio Valley.