PADC Unity in Community festival prompts involvement in political issues

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A new iteration of the Piedmont Appreciating Diversity Committee Unity in Community event will take place in the form of a festival Sunday April 22 from 1-3 p.m. at Piedmont Park.

While MHS Principal and Faculty Sponsor for the student organizers Shannon Fierro said that she helped student organizers juniors Laura Bryan and Casey Lane with designing the idea and planning for their next steps, the students have executed the plan.

“All of the legwork has been Laura and Casey,” Fierro said. “It’s really amazing that it’s so student-led.”

The event will have a stage with presentations and performances, twelve different booths including voter registration and letter writing stalls, a food truck, and craft activities, Fierro said. The event is open to the general public.

“It’s meant to be something that children and parents and others can engage in and just have a nice day in the park together as a community,” Fierro said.

This is the second Unity in Community event that the PADC has sponsored. Last year the first Unity in Community event was a small community event in the park. This event was not designed by students, and came in direct response events such as the Muslim travel ban, Fierro said. When Bryan came up with the idea for the festival last year, PADC and the students decided to make it into another Unity in Community event.

“[PADC] saw synergy between the Unity in Community event last year and the festival idea that Laura had,” Fierro said.

Bryan’s idea originally stemmed from an advocacy letter she wrote with junior Laila Adarkar for her history class last year. Originally she wanted an event for the Jewish community, but as the 2017-2018 school year came around she decided that, since the school was starting to focus more on diversity, she would turn it into an event supporting all minorities.

“Representing the Jewish community was important, but we thought ‘why not all groups’ and build more empathy for them as well,” Bryan said.

Bryan said that she hopes the activity booths, one of which is a hijab education stand, will help people understand microaggressions.

“I think microaggressions come from a lot of misunderstandings,” Bryan said. “This event will help counter microaggressions and hopefully stop them.”

Bryan said she hopes this event will change people’s views of social justice.

“A lot of people are bothered by or disinterested with social justice because they find it to be so heartbreaking all the time,” Bryan said. “I wanted to make the festival a fun and festive event to show that social justice is something that doesn’t always have to be saddening and solemn, it can be very communal and empowering.”