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The Immigration and Refugee Center of Northern Colorado’s Welcome Wagon (via Weld Found Podcast)

What does home look like for you? What would it look like to make a new home, in a new place, if you had to leave?

Greeley is home to a diverse and rich cultural tapestry. In our city, we speak dozens of languages and dialects, and community members find their way here from all across the globe. It’s always been this way—stories of immigration and innovation are deeply rooted in our foundation. Still, when you’re new to a city, it can be difficult to carve out your sense of home in its boundaries. If you don’t hear stories like your own being told, it can feel impossible to see yourself at the center of your city’s story.

The Immigration and Refugee Center of Northern Colorado (IRC) is working to change that feeling. Since 2017, its staff has been working to ensure that the newest members of our community feel empowered and welcome in Greeley and in Northern Colorado. Through educational classes, community navigation services, and other events and resources, the IRC is connecting our all of Greeley’s residents to our town’s story.

That’s why we love this 2019 story about the IRC’s work. It’s from the “Weld Found” podcast, which is hosted by Tim Coons and sponsored by The Weld Community Foundation.

Called “The Welcome Wagon,” this podcast episode is all about growing as an inclusive and welcoming community in Northern Colorado and how that growth can have a drastic impact on Greeley’s economics, culture, and connectivity.

Tune in as Tim visits the Immigrant and Refugee Center of Northern Colorado and talks with several Greeley experts about the power of creating a sense of belonging where you live.

Play the Weld Found “Welcome Wagon” Episode

Click here to read the transcript from “The Welcome Wagon” instead of listening to the episode.

Looking for more content about belonging and cultural diversity?

Read our story “A New Bilingual Children’s Book Highlights Dominican Culture for Northern Coloradoans” next.

All photos via the @IRCNoCo Facebook Page.

Read the Episode Transcript

Editor’s Note: The following transcript was auto-generated and may include minimal errors or typos.

You’re listening to Weld Found, a podcast about belonging in an age of social isolation and disconnection. This is episode four, “The Welcome Wagon.” This production is made possible by the Weld Community Foundation, who has the following to say about community. This is the first thing you read on the website. It’s a great message and I wanted to share it with you.

“A true community is more than a place where people live. It is where people experience personal connection and belonging, celebrate heritage and diversity, seek opportunity and knowledge, and lift each other up in times of hardship. Together, let’s strengthen the bonds that make our communities thrive. Spread the good.”

Again, thanks to the foundation for sponsoring this podcast, which is working to strengthen the bonds of this place we call home. Here’s today’s show.

Welcome to Weld Found. This production is made possible by the Weld Community Foundation, who encourages us to spread the good. Weld Found is this podcast about our lone selves, finding groove in our community, becoming part of our community, really belonging to this place where you live. I’m your host Tim Coons. We begin with a question today. What makes someone love their city, their home, the place they live?

Dr. Catherine Laughlin, she’s part of a project called Soul of a Community. She oversaw this large study: 26 different cities over three years, 43,000 people, asking simple questions. What makes people love where they live? And why does it matter? And of the ten areas they studied, three rose to the top. And this was across the board. Richer cities, poor neighborhoods? Three things rose to the top.

What would your guesses be? What do you think are the top three things that make people love their community? Well, here they are. Social offerings (social life); aesthetics (beauty of a place); the number three is openness (how welcoming the town is). These three things are what mattered most to making someone love where they live. Something she calls “community attachment.”

The more people love where they live, the higher the local economic growth of that place. So you get from this sentimental idea, loving a place, to concrete one pretty fast. Loving a place means economic growth. And they showed this in their study. Love of a place leads to these economic outcomes. And, you know, these three things showcase for us what we crave: social interaction.

We want to look around and see the beauty of areas that we’re proud of and hope people feel comfortable in their own skin; that we’re welcomed just as we are. These are top priorities for people. And when this happens in an area, you get results: More job satisfaction. People spend time in their communities. You’re more likely to invite people to where you live. You’re not heading on that first plane out of town.

When people visit you, what do you show off about where you live? I take them to places we hang out. The cool and beautiful areas and parks, museums and attractions. Honestly, when it comes to aesthetics, I take them to the murals my wife has painted. And all the while you showcase how welcoming the place is, how the people are cool and kind here.

As I was taking all this in, I thought to myself, this podcast is all about our home, our community belonging. And of those three areas that build community attachment, social life, beauty of a place. I want to focus on the last one today. Openness, welcoming. And so we’re exploring this idea of Weld County as a welcoming place, friendly neighbors, people ready to help you and be on the lookout for you.

I know that’s been my experience. And from what I’m learning from this study, if I’m not welcoming in my community, it could be costing us money.

So here’s where I want to go. I want to challenge myself. I want to head to the most welcoming place that I know of in Weld County, the Immigrant and Refugee Center.

Surprise, right? Here’s the thing. I think Welcoming 101 would be like smiling at someone in the cashier line showing a little kindness. Maybe 202 would be how you welcome new neighbors on the block. But the high level stuff, 400-level welcoming, that means seeing the communities who are resettling in our county, who are learning our language, our culture in ways. Reaching out to them, offering help, a neighborly hand, even though they seem so different from us. That can be challenging.

Makes me feel like I’m going back to school. That’s welcoming at a big time level, which stretches me. So if I want to learn more about what it means to be welcoming because it matters in helping people love our county and actually impacts our economic growth, too, well, then I’m heading to the IRC. We’re calling this episode “The Welcome Wagon,” and it’s going to happen in two acts.

Act one is titled “Saying Hello.” It will be meeting people who work at, volunteer, and use services at the IRC. Our second act is called “The Cool Kids Table.” We’ll be having a deeper conversation about in groups and out groups. Big thank you to The Burroughs for this intro music. They’re a funk soul band out of Greeley, Colorado, and you can keep the party going by heading to theburroughssoul.com after this podcast. Get yourself some dancin’ music.

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Download the rest of the transcript here.