FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Susan Norton
September 13, 2019
City of Fayetteville Celebrates Welcoming Week with Mayoral Proclamation
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark.—Fayetteville Mayor Lioneld Jordan has delivered a proclamation announcing the week of September 15 as Welcoming Week in the City of Fayetteville. With this proclamation, Fayetteville joins hundreds of other cities across the nation that are taking time to acknowledge and celebrate the contributions of immigrants and foreign-born residents to the culture, economy, and heritage of the United States of America. It’s all part of a national week of welcoming, organized by Welcoming America, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that is leading a movement of inclusive communities.
The City of Fayetteville has been working with Welcoming America and other organizations for nearly two years to develop and implement the Welcoming Fayetteville Plan, passed by City Council in 2017 and aimed at expanding Fayetteville’s reputation as a welcoming and inclusive community by making integration into the community easier for foreign-born residents and encouraging them to engage with City government.
“When new Americans arrive in Fayetteville, they face barriers that are unique and, sometimes, complicated. It’s up to us to evaluate and ask ourselves, ‘Are we really doing everything we can to make Fayetteville a place that’s easy for everyone to call home?’” said Mayor Jordan.
Over the past nine months, the City has taken several steps toward implementation of the Welcoming Plan. The City’s website now offers a Google Translate feature that allows the site to be instantly translated into dozens of different languages. In addition, the City’s Communication department has developed a virtual Welcoming Hub on the City website, which brings together information about a host of resources for immigrants who are new to Fayetteville, such as where to find English language and citizenship classes, how to access City utilities and other services, where to find information about transportation, job training, and more.
An inclusion education session was presented for front-line City employees, and further training opportunities are being explored for the future. The City is also preparing to translate more than a hundred pages of forms and other City documents into Spanish. In addition, an online “Fayetteville 101” curriculum is in development to help newcomers learn about the City’s government and services. These resources will come to fruition in 2020.
Getting immigrant populations comfortable enough to become fully engaged with City government is key to the Welcoming Fayetteville Plan. Another step in this direction was accomplished earlier this year when the City Council passed a resolution that removed the voter registration requirement for resident eligibility to participate in certain City boards, commissions, and committees.
“Fayetteville intends to be a City with opportunities for all.” explained Mayor Jordan. “Many new Americans come to this country with valuable skills, education and experience, as well as a love for American style democracy. These folks should have the opportunity to offer their input and insights into how we plot a path for our City. By removing the registered voter requirement, and thereby the US citizenship requirement, we have opened doors for engagement by long-term or permanent residents and visiting students with skills to share.”
During Welcoming Week, the City encourages businesses and individuals to extend a warm, Fayetteville welcome to their foreign-born neighbors and colleagues, and to show their Welcoming spirit by downloading a “Fayetteville Welcomes You” sign to display in business windows, on bulletin boards, and in homes to show that Fayetteville is, indeed, a welcoming and inclusive community. The sign is available for download on the City’s online Welcoming Hub.
See below for full text of the Mayor’s Welcoming Week proclamation. To explore the City’s online Virtual Welcoming Hub, or for more about the Welcoming Fayetteville Plan, visit fayetteville-ar.com/Welcome.
Office of the Mayor
City of Fayetteville, Arkansas
WHEREAS the City of Fayetteville acknowledges and celebrates the fact that the United States of America is a nation of immigrants, and our country’s cultural and economic richness is rooted in its diversity and its promise of freedom, equality, and opportunity; and
WHEREAS Fayetteville is a community that values the fresh perspectives and ideas contributed by people of diverse backgrounds and experiences, and is committed to providing a welcoming environment in which all residents have opportunities to strive, grow, and succeed; and
WHEREAS we as a community are stronger and better when we work together toward those core American values that afford everyone the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; and
WHEREAS Fayetteville has defined itself as a place of open hearts and open minds, where all are welcome, regardless of your place of origin, the color of your skin, your form of worship, or who you love; and our community continues to reach out to offer hospitality, acceptance, and tolerance to all;
NOW THEREFORE, I, Lioneld Jordan, Mayor of Fayetteville, Arkansas, do hereby proclaim the week of September 15, 2019, as “WELCOMING WEEK” in the City of Fayetteville, and call upon the people of Fayetteville to join together to continue to grow strong, inclusive communities—here in Arkansas and across our state and our nation.