unity in the community

Patton Manion, 3, listens to a speaker address the crowd during the “Everyone’s In! A Rally For Unity” outside the Mt. Lebanon Recreation Center while attending with his father, Patrick, on Sunday, Nov. 18, 2016. Patrick Manion said it was important that he attend the rally with his son for the sake of his children. Manion and his wife, who live on Atlanta Drive, adopted two bi-racial children. /Photo: John Schisler

Mt. Lebanon is an increasingly diverse community, one that the Community Relations Board feels is ready to stand against any intolerance that seeps into our neighborhoods. This was made clear at the December Unity Rally in Mt. Lebanon Park, an event organized by state Rep. Dan Miller along with many local religious congregations and nonprofits. Hundreds of people braved the frigid cold to preach a message of love and solidarity in the aftermath of several incidents of bigotry that occurred on local school grounds.

Changing people’s hearts and minds doesn’t happen in a single day, however, and several Mt. Lebanon organizations will continue working to promote tolerance and acceptance throughout 2017. The Mt. Lebanon Public Library will build programs based around the theme of unity, and our own board will use this space to celebrate diversity by highlighting Mt. Lebanon residents from myriad backgrounds.

We have identified a few residents whose stories we would like to share, but we’re also hoping some of you reading this column will think your personal story is worth telling or might know someone whose story would shine a light on the positive ways diversity affects our community. Did you immigrate to America and discover you were able to thrive in an entirely new culture? Are you a member of the LGBTQ community who found it took some time before you were comfortable being yourself in front of your neighbors? Are you someone whose race or religion has played an important part in defining who you are as a Mt. Lebanon resident?

These are just a few of the types of stories we are looking for as we prepare a line-up of interesting first-person articles for the rest of 2017 and perhaps beyond. Bob Taylor, a community relations board member and a regular writer for mtl, is taking the lead on this project. He is willing to talk with any resident who has a story that might make for a future column. If you would be willing to tell (or write) your story, email Taylor at bobtaylor52@yahoo.com or community relations board staff liaison Susan Morgans at smorgans@mtlebanon.org.

The Mt. Lebanon Community Relations Board is an advisory board to the municipal Commission that serves as a resource for anyone who has experienced discrimination or whose civil rights have been violated. Residents are invited to observe or to speak at our monthly meetings—the board meets at 6 p.m., the second Wednesday of each month.  Or residents may speak confidentially with a board member, who can offer advice or help arrange a mediation. To be put in touch with a board member, email our staff liaison, smorgans@mtlebanon.org.

STUDENT ART CONTEST Unity in the Community is the title of an art contest sponsored this spring by the Mt. Lebanon Community Relations Board. Planned to celebrate cultural diversity and its role in sustaining our community, the contest is open in two categories to any student who lives in Mt. Lebanon: grades 6-8 and grades 9-12. Entries may be paintings, drawings or digital creations and must be scanned or photographed and submitted online by July 1 to Community Relations Board Staff Liaison Susan Morgans, smorgans@mtlebanon.org. They will be judged by the board and the winning entries will be used to promote diversity. The artwork will be featured on T-shirts made by Commonwealth Press and on postcards and will be used as part of the library’s yearlong unity program theme. The original art will hang in the municipal building, and the art and artist will be featured in mtl. For specs and entry instructions, visit www.mtlebanon.org.