Georgia Haven

It can work, it can happen, we can live together, exemplified by the Georgia Haven described in the article below. Hate does not have to rule, we can simply be.  I never thought I’d be writing about Georgia – that is my own bias – about getting along through acceptance. So, I am going to shut up now and let you read about a Georgia Haven that was presented by the Guardian.

“Clarkston, a small town in Georgia, has received over 40,000 refugees over the past 25 years. They come from every corner of the globe. This year there are more Congolese than Syrians; past waves of refugee resettlement have brought Bhutanese, Eritreans, Ethiopians, Somalis, Sudanese, Liberians, Vietnamese.

All have landed in an otherwise unremarkable city in the Deep South, population 13,000.

Look beyond the 1970s strip malls, apartment complexes and parking lots, and there are sights rarely seen elsewhere in America. Beige storefronts are topped by signs in Amharic and Nepali scripts, with evocative English translations: Balageru Food Mart, African Cultural and Injera Grocers, Numsok Oriental Grocers. Women gather nearby wearing bright African headscarves, and others cross the street in traditional Asian silk dresses, long black hair braided down their backs.

But foreigners are not the only migrants to Clarkston. The self-proclaimed “Ellis Island of the south” is now seeing not only refugees and poor immigrants arrive. Its reputation has prompted a swell of middle-class professional Americans, who – in the words of the city’s 34-year-old mayor, Ted Terry – are “in search of all the trappings of diversity”.

“What made Clarkston work for refugees, Bollinger says, are the opportunities afforded by its high-density apartment complexes and good transport links. It’s easy to catch a vanpool to the chicken factories two hours north, where many of the refugees first find low-wage employment. This was why Clarkston was identified in the early 1990s as a good resettlement hub, and now these same attractions – low-cost housing and proximity to the interstate – are part of what’s helping to attract young American professionals priced out of Atlanta.

Many Clarkston residents point out the town was not always so hospitable to refugees: their arrival was initially resented by many locals. But older opponents of refugees have moved on or passed away, and have been replaced by younger liberals. Bollinger calls Mayor Terry, who was elected in 2013 at the age of 31, “the physical embodiment of that change of perspective”.

Those older locals who have remained seem content to live in parallel with their refugee neighbors. Betty Cardell, 93, who has lived in Clarkston since she arrived as a war bride from California in 1950, is philosophical: “Well, they’re here. So what you going to do? They’re people like we are. I’ve never had trouble.” She has no interest in leaving. “I like Clarkston: it’s still a small town.”

Georgia Haven

About pulpdiddy

I've published an E-book (Neurotic Man), a hard copy book, (Dworb), produced movies (Woman of the Port and Liberty and Bash), and worked as a writer for Demand Media writing those ehow tidbits you've most undoubtedly seen. For many years I wrote business and marketing plans for service, retail and manufacturing businesses. Along the way I've also prepared tax returns, taught accounting, been a business start-up consultant, licensed arbiter, federal analyst, busboy, waiter, safety clerk, lighting salesman, restaurant manager, parking lot attendant, construction foreman, and cook.
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