Last week our city, our Championship City, on the heels of a parade, a year, a decade of unparalleled growth, our Cleveland welcomed thousands of newcomers to our amazing region. From Indiana to Indonesia, from Andorra to Alabama, we did the most radical thing you can do, we welcomed.

Global Cleveland, with an incredible staff and board leadership, was honored to partner with Destination Cleveland (Dave Gilbert & his team Rock!), the Committee on Arrangements RNC, the United States Department of State, and Case Western Reserve University to host over 80 Ambassadors to the United States and their colleagues in what is a quadrennial visit to our nation’s binary political conventions. From sessions with national leaders to tours of the Cleveland Museum of Art, the Diplomatic Corps representing every continent came to Cleveland and was awed by our people, our warmth, our professionalism, our ethnic and cultural communities and our work ethic. Throughout the evening at Severance Hall we heard about opportunities for more economic development, questions on how we were able to achieve the medical, philanthropic and civic infrastructure we have, and ways in which we can all do more together, globally and locally. As a son of this city, I was energized by what the world saw in who we actually are: industrious, compassionate, creative, and open for business.

What moved me in ways I wasn’t expecting were the conversations occurring throughout our community, far from the floor of the Q. Robert Frost, the Chairman of the Republican Party of Cuyahoga County organized a forum with the Partnership for a New American Economy and with support from Bernie Moreno and three extraordinary Global Cleveland Board Members, Radhika Reddy, Dr. Hiroyuki Fujita, and Doug Bugie a dynamic, unscripted conversation took place in the Halle Building on immigration, the value to our county and nation, and how non partisan the truth really is: we need to fix our future and we need to fix it now.

Following this with a panel hosted by our civic and intellectual and community binding pillar of the Cleveland Public Library (thank you Mr. Felton Thomas and team, you are so constructive) and the echoes are still around us. From representatives of Immigration Law, Mr. George Koussa of Margaret Wong and Associates, to Danielle Drake of US Together and Eileen Wilson of Building Hope in the City, both working daily to welcome more refugees to our community, to Veronica Dahlberg, who spends her life working with the migrant communities east of us: to care for and stand with our many Spanish speaking sisters and brothers, some with paper, some not, this forum dealt with the real aspects of what it means to call a place home far away from your birth country, and how successful we can all be with a job, a house, a community of hingeless doors.

The attendance at the Republican Forum and the Library Session was large, the questions thoughtful and the dialogue, the holy and blessed connection of thought and heart, was respectful, intelligent, and self-challenging. In an environment so charged and a topic so electric, to have these opportunities for us to exchange ideas and challenge our own comfort zones was a gift that I am so proud to have witnessed our Community to give.

We live in complex times. The issues of immigration, immigration reform, international economic development, welcoming refugees, making our native borne sisters and brothers more prosperous because of international investment doesn’t easily present themselves with instant solutions that will make everyone happy. But if the Cleveland Way is any indication there are some truths I know:

  1. With respect and love for each other we are creating a map and a way to move forward for all our benefit
  2. With an informed dialogue and sincerely held opinions we have more in common as Cleveland and Cuyahoga County than not.
  3. The world in every aspect came to Cleveland and saw we are daily creating a more perfect union, one that has room for everyone with ideas, creativity, looking to make a better life. We are a model for a nation earnestly seeking answers.

For all of us, for who we are the week before, during, and years after the RNC, let’s us be us. And let’s keep leaving the light on for those here AND those still to come.