Worthingtonians have a history of convening in the spirit of service and celebration, and in support of common causes. Despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic when "social distancing" is the buzzword of our times, during this month's exhibit we'd like to focus on the abundant archival evidence of togetherness, collaboration and fun shared throughout our community.
Occasions for gathering have arisen out of historic milestones (such as Worthington's bicentennial celebration in 2003) and in recognition and pursuit of shared values. The '50s style Worthington Family Festival celebrated in 1983 encouraged the community to share reflections on "ways to be a family" and saw community members releasing into the sky balloon-borne invitations for recipients to send back their thoughts on the topic, too (some were received from New Brunswick, Canada).
Worthington's kinship with geographically-distant communities extends all the way to Sayama, Japan, our sister city since 1999, where delegates from the Worthington International Friendship Organization (WIFA) have shared in the experience of school activities, community festivals and other traditions. "Friendship," WIFA's quarterly newsletter, also offers information about the organization's efforts to promote a plurality of culture within the community.
The Community Relations Commission of Worthington, which since 1970 has advised Worthington City Council on matters of social justice and equity, has partnered with WIFA to sponsor events for citizens to enjoy and learn more about cultural heritage on a local, national and global scale. The commission was established through the collaborative efforts of Worthington City Council and the Worthington Human Relations Council, an independent, nonprofit organization established by community members in the 1960s to advocate for equal housing and employment opportunities, equal use of public facilities and to "…promote better communication and understanding between different creeds, races, and national origins."
The outdoors have been the setting for numerous community gatherings, due not only to the abundance of open space and fresh air, but also to citizens' collaborative efforts to care for Worthington's shared natural areas and landmarks. Community Service Day and the Ox Roast and Country Market each caught on with the community and became new traditions. Citizens have gathered to share in the experience of faith-based traditions, the changing of seasons, local commerce and the arts; to learn and to educate; and to voice opposition to controversial decisions and events.
This month’s exhibit is intended to be hopeful as well as an opportunity for reflection. Let’s all look forward to the time when we can safely gather once again, in person, to create new shared memories!