Diversity resolution passes

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It's rare that Steamboat Springs City Council meetings end in standing ovations. It's even rarer that resolutions are read in English, Spanish and French.

But Tuesday night's meeting was anything but typical, as the council passed a resolution celebrating diversity and promoting tolerance.

Consul General of Mexico Juan Marcos Gutierrez, school superintendents, community organizations and businesses joined the council in supporting the resolution.

More than 50 people attended the meeting, which was followed by a reception featuring Mexican food.

City Deputy Manager Wendy DuBord said that besides complying with federal regulations on civil rights, the city has printed bus schedules in Spanish and more employees are trying to learn Spanish. She said the city was a sponsor of the 2005 Disabled World Cup and held diversity training for nonprofit organizations.

"Diversity can't be legislated at the federal level. It belongs in the local level, at schools, in the home and at meetings like this," DuBord said.

City Council President Paul Strong then read the resolution in English, followed by readings from a Spanish interpreter and a French interpreter. When the council passed the resolution, the attendees stood and clapped.

A number of immigrants were in the audience and spoke in favor of the resolution.

"We come here to work and live. Living is more important than working. That is why I think we are a part of this community. We want to make it better for everybody," said Liliani Rojas, who is from Columbia.

Gutierrez said that every time he goes somewhere, he asks city and county officials to build better policies for immigrants and to welcome newcomers into the community.

"Steamboat is already on that track," Gutierrez said.

One of the highlights of the meeting was Gutierrez's donation of more than 1,000 Spanish books to the schools in Routt and Moffat counties. Superintendents from the Steamboat Springs, South Routt, Hayden and Moffat County school districts were on hand to accept the books.

Gutierrez said that for nine years, the Mexican government has been donating books written in Spanish for those in the United States to use as reference books. Many of the books are part of the Mexican public school system and cover history, literature, mathematics, science and geography.

The books can be used for Spanish speakers coming to the United States and learning English or for those learning Spanish as a second language.

The consul also gave books that were family reference books about health, communication, violence and drugs. The books could be used for Spanish-speaking parents.

Teachers also can use the books as references.

"In the long run, we are building a better understanding between the two countries," Gutierrez said. "The kids of today are going to be the adults and politicians and policy-makers of tomorrow."

This year alone, 55,000 books will come to Colorado.

-- To reach Christine Metz call 871-4229 or e-mail cmetz@steamboatpilot.com

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