Food festival hopes to bring people together

By: Mike Koury | Woodward Talk | Published September 17, 2019

Advertisement

HUNTINGTON WOODS — As part of National Welcoming Week Sept. 13-22, the city of Huntington Woods is hosting its first Festival of Food and Culture.

The event, hosted by the city’s recently created Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Committee, will be held from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 22, at the Huntington Woods Public Library, 26415 Scotia Road.

The festival asks residents to bring a dish that’s part of their ethnic or cultural heritage to share with others who have brought their own food that represents their backgrounds. The idea comes from resident Steve Gold, who wanted to get the city more involved with diversity after it had passed a resolution two years ago designating Huntington Woods as a “Welcoming City.”

“(Gold) suggested that the city form this Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Committee, and because Welcoming Week is coming up, these two things would dovetail nicely, that we could promote … putting together the new committee and promote Welcoming Cities at the same time, just to show that the city is inclusive and welcoming,” City Manager Amy Sullivan said.

Welcoming Cities is a program designed to coordinate sectors of a city, such as government and businesses, to work to create a community that’s supportive of immigrant rights.

Gold said he’s observed over the years living in Huntington Woods that it has remained “strangely nondiverse” as compared to other parts of Oakland County and southeast Michigan.

“Everybody, especially young people, enjoys a mix of different kinds of music and different kinds of food and different kinds of stories, different kinds of art,” he said. “As much as we value our own — and we should — we also grow and learn when we’re exposed to what other people are doing conversely. If we’re not exposed to what other people are doing, it’s easy to project onto it an otherness or a strangeness or, even in some cases, a riskiness that’s almost always inaccurate. People who travel or people who work in multicultural environments find out that people are pretty much the same everywhere, and the differences are really interesting because they tend to be the differences in culture.”

Gold looked to see if there was a way to make Huntington Woods a richer place culturally, so he brought the idea of starting the Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Committee, with the food festival being its first event.

“Food is nonpolitical,” he said. “It’s really hard to think that Swedish meatballs or hummus have a political implication. People just like the stuff because it tastes good. Food is an expression of culture. Some places have hot food, some places have fish-heavy diets, some places do lots of grains and have dumplings and so on and so forth, and it’s a nonthreatening, nonpolitical, nondivisive way to think about other cultures, just to experience their food.”

Residents can email Gold at plutsk@gmail.com for more information on the event. People interested in joining the Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Committee can contact Sullivan at asullivan@hwmi.org.

Advertisement