When we received the invitation to the Cascade Chamber’s Lunch and Learn event, the Inclusive Dubuque coordinators and I were immediately intrigued by the opportunity to listen to keynote speaker, Himar Hernandez. Himar Hernandez is the Community Development Specialist with areas of expertise in Latino community and business development.
Upon arriving at the Kalmes Club in Cascade, I was overwhelmed with the scent of delicious food (partially because I had forgotten to eat breakfast). I also noticed how friendly and comfortable the community members were with each other, which created a wonderfully welcoming environment.
After an extensive introduction by one of the Chamber Representatives, Himar Hernandez dove right in to a discussion of the ongoing changes of diversity specifically in Iowa communities. While he did not want to “bore” us with statistical numbers, it was evident how some communities in Iowa are at the forefront in terms of welcoming and including families of unique and diverse backgrounds. But, Hernandez points out that there are also some communities that struggle to retain and attract these potential community members. This also could be correlated to Iowa’s declining population.
Hernandez said, “Community development is a two-way street,” which is exactly right! It is important to keep in mind that in order to accommodate all individuals within a community, it’s necessary to change. While it may be discouraging at first because of a multitude of barriers, we must look past notions of immigration and diversity and agree that we are all looking for a better quality of life.