For 70 years, the Cleveland Cultural Garden Federation has been celebrating One World Day.  This year, the Federation’s big public event was held on Sunday, August 23rd amidst the beautiful Cultural Gardens in Rockefeller Park.  Global Cleveland was delighted to help the organizers with volunteers and sponsorship. 

As a former president of the Garden Federation, I was pleased to stroll through the Gardens and see the vibrancy of cultural and ethnic life.  Yes, the Gardens have statues, busts and medallions of famous contributors to culture, ancient and modern.

These figures are molded in granite, bronze and stone, but the living testaments of the earlier newcomers who founded the Gardens are their descendants who appreciate their heritage and remind all of Cleveland that they too have a stake in building up our great city.  

One hundred years ago, networks of bilingual immigrants helped recent newcomers who arrived by boat and train to find jobs, housing and assimilate into their new country.  They labored in steel mills, factories, clothing shops, and shipping docks. Immigrants still arrive at our port, less by boat and train and more often by automobile and plane and now often work in medical and educational institutions—a lot different than those immigrants of 100 years ago.  The need for Global Cleveland is to make the transition for immigrants who are challenged in finding jobs and help connect them with employment resources toward hiring.   

Global Cleveland is a proud partner of the Refugee Services Collaborative of Greater Cleveland (RSC), which is an umbrella of refugee organizations that create a seamless garment that covers all aspects of Cleveland’s refugee community.  People from around the world live in our midst and we hope that you will welcome and be helpful to these newest members of our citizenry.  I must note that the work that each of these non-profits who make up the RSC is amazing and heart-warming all at once.   Check them out here, and then consider volunteering—and like the RSC on Facebook.

But for now, let me return to the Cultural Gardens.  As new groups of immigrants and refugees settle in Cuyahoga County, they want to become part of the Garden chain too.  Back in the early 20th century, European groups founded the Gardens.  Now immigration comes from other parts of the globe and these groups seek recognition too.   The Ethiopian, Korean, Turkish and Vietnamese communities, relative newcomers in our community are actively seeking Garden space to make their mark in Greater Cleveland.  Additionally, the Lebanese and Scottish communities, which have been very present to our area for years, are also requesting Garden space.

In 2016, the Cleveland Cultural Gardens will celebrate its 100th anniversary and as this important landmark is feted and celebrated throughout the year, let us not forget the newcomers, the immigrants and refugees, who are in our midst and might need a helping hand.