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'Our Diverse community' series begins today

WORTHINGTON -- The Peace Avenue of Flags will return to the city today, and a new series in the Daily Globe will mark the occasion.

"Our Diverse Community: Inform, Educate, Unite" will offer readers stories about the national heritage of our community's people, one nation and one flag at a time. Visitors to will also see and hear multimedia pertaining to these stories.

Stories will continue to appear throughout this week and will run on a weekly basis on Tuesdays beginning Sept. 20.

"We thought one project that would be really great in our community would be to discuss the flags and talk about the diversity, so we came up with a brand -- a logo, if you will: Inform, Educate, Unite," Daily Globe Publisher Joni Harms explained. "It is our task to inform all the readers, either through our newspapers or through our website -- through videos and other media -- about every one of those flags and those countries and discussing them.

"We'll inform people what those countries are, identify someone from each country and then educate everyone about traditions and characteristics of that country," Harms added.

The idea behind the Peace Avenue of Flags project was to promote world peace, understanding and brotherhood and grew out of the Worthington and Crailsheim, Germany, partnership that began in 1947. In 1959, the city's international relations efforts were recognized through its selection as a winner of the World Brotherhood Award. The city also earned the Reader's Digest Brotherhood Award in 1969.

"In 1970, Sargent Shriver, the first director of the Peace Corps, was invited to Worthington to dedicate the Peace Avenue of Flags," said Brenda Hurlbut, chairwoman of the Worthington Area Chamber of Commerce's Community Improvement Committee, which has led the effort to bring the flags back.

Shriver would come to Worthington during the 1971 King Turkey Day to do just that. When the original Peace Avenue was dedicated, it featured the only complete set of United Nations flags to fly west of the United Nations Plaza in New York, N.Y.

"It's very exciting to have this program back," said Darlene Macklin, the Chamber's executive director. "In 2009, we wanted to re-establish the Peace Avenue of Flags, and the Community Improvement Committee got behind it very strongly and felt that they wanted to participate in it."

"We were talking about projects we want to take hold for the coming years, and we talked about the Peace Avenue of Flags," Hurlbut said. "It had been many years since the Peace Avenue of Flags were hanging in Worthington, and it was time to resurrect that project.

"This project is one that can grow into something everyone can be very proud of and benefit from, either in personal commitment to better international understanding between peoples, or a continued economic growth of our area as visitors stop, or in a successful combination of both worthy goals," Hurlbut continued.

The Daily Globe was inspired to do a series pertaining to the Peace Avenue of Flags while attending the Editors & Publishers Community Leadership Program, which is coordinated by the Minnesota News Institute and Minnesota Newspaper Association and supported in part by Blandin Foundation.

"Joni and I were at this seminar, and we were listening to a wonderful presentation from one of the newspapers that had been in the program in the past," Daily Globe Managing Editor Ryan McGaughey said. "They started talking about a project they had done revolving around diversity, and Joni and I just about looked at each other at the same time and said, 'The flags.'

"The flags have an outstanding history here in Worthington, and we're going to celebrate that history while looking forward toward the future," McGaughey continued. "Worthington is a microcosm of America. My daughter is in first grade this year, and her class is 38 percent white, so that tells you what kind of diversity we have in our community. But she doesn't see that diversity -- she just says, 'Can I play with so-and-so today?' as opposed to, 'Why is that person different from me?' It's that kind of thinking that we not only hope to encourage, but make happen, within our community."

In each segment of the series, Daily Globe readers will learn about several aspects of national and cultural heritage as told by a Worthington resident and also read about each of their American experiences. Since there are more than 60 different flags represented on the Peace Avenue, the stories are expected to continue as long as a year or more.

"Here in Worthington, we are proud of the diversity of our residents and are very excited to have the Daily Globe work with us on this project," Macklin said. "It takes education to the public, and we think that through the Daily Globe, it's going to be possible to have the residents understand what we are trying to accomplish."

"We're very pleased with the Chamber's enthusiasm," Harms added. "We are also looking forward to sharing the stories of people from all the different countries in our community. They've chosen to live in the United States, and we're happy to have them here, but we need to understand how they live, why they do certain things. Then, it's our challenge to try to unite everyone so we can work together as a community that embraces all this diversity."

Ryan McGaughey

I first joined the Daily Globe in April 2001 as sports editor. I later became the news editor in November 2002, and the managing editor in August 2006. I'm originally from New York State, and am married with two children.

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