Multicultural Potluck Celebrates the Cultures, Languages and Food of Our New Neighbors

By Laura Hansen

I have new friends. Ahmad, Saber and Mahamad and his son – all arrived in Sacramento just two months ago through the refugee resettlement program. They told me a bit of the story of their journey here and their enthusiasm for getting to work. Ahmad was a video journalist working with the US Army and is a black belt in Tae Kwon Do. Saber is a computer programmer and Mahamad is a skilled mechanic and craftsman. These are just three of the 3,400 new neighbors – resettled refugees in 2016 -- who are hoping to feel in their hearts that Sacramento is their new home.

December 3 at Sierra 2 Center nearly 100 people from over a dozen countries brought their favorite home country dish to share at the first annual Multicultural Exchange potluck. This is the first time our chapter opened up this annual event to the public. With over 3,400 refugees officially resettled in the Sacramento area this year, we thought celebrating our region’s growing diversity and honoring the culture they bring with them was a great idea. We look forward to a bigger party with people from many other cultures being able to attend next year.

United Nations Association chapter President, Kate Van Buren opened the event with a welcome message, then introduced event co-hosts Nahid Kabbani, founder of One World for Love and Peace, and Laura Hansen and Joan Marie, cofounders of Compassionate Capitol Region.

Koichi Mizushima of the Buddhist Church of Sacramento then offered a blessing in Japanese as a mindful transition from the welcome statements and the mad dash to the potluck tables.

While we talked and ate from plates piled with savory and rich dishes from Iroquois stew to Baklava to Biryani to pumpkin pie Megan Nguyen, our newly elected Vice President led us in a game where we learned how to say, “Hello” and “Thank you” in all the languages represented – turns out 14 in all: Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Hindi, Hmong, Japanese, Russian, Spanish, Vietnamese, Iroquois, Ukrainian, Farsi, Yiddish and Bambara.

Christelle Picque, Director of Operations and Russul Roumani, Care Coordinator at Opening Doors, a refugee resettlement agency gave an update on the resettlement effort in our region.

Russul, co-lead blessing with Koichi at end of event in Arabic.

We’d like to thank the community organizations who took the care and time to provide information tables: Sister Cities International, Braveheart Women, Kappa Kappa Phi, Opening Doors, Compassionate Capitol Region, One World for Love and Peace.

June 26 Protestor Violence on Capitol Steps -- What's Our Next Step?


The stabbings and violence during today's protest on the capitol steps between the Traditionalist Working Party and the counter protestors is below the dignity of who we can be as people.

Conflict comes from lack of understanding and a disconnection from the worthiness of another's view.

We must, within our communities, offer an intermediary step between ignorance and violence.

That step is developing a process for ongoing conversation between viewpoints. Conversations that help us identify the common ground as well as how to honor the autonomy of each point of view.

If we don't agree that understanding is better than death, then death it is. And, is that the best we can do?

Are we that afraid to expand our understanding past our own narrowly held convictions?

Are we that afraid to discover that when given new information, we would change our point of view? Is that a sign of weakness?

No, it is a sign of strength. It is a sign of evolution.

Conflict exists as a symptom of two or more points of view running into each other in the dark.

Acknowledging the equal worthiness of the life experience that brought a person or group to a particular perspective, then turning on the light to see the larger landscape of our human community is how we evolve.

We either evolve or we die.

Let's chose to evolve.

In the coming weeks, Compassionate Capitol Region will be offering a series of public workshops to help us learn how to have a conversation with someone with a different point of view -- not to convince the other, but to understand how to create a community that is safe and open.

LIke this page: to stay updated.

Thank you,

Laura Hansen
CoFounder, Compassionate Capitol Region

Dalai Lama Asks for Cities of Kindness

Today, while the Dalai Lama was meeting with the conference of Mayors about creating kind, compassionate cities, a violent clash between protestors and counter-protestors took place in Sacramento on our Capitol steps.

As Sacramento raises its national profile with a new downtown arena, a new civic-tech innovation center as well as holding its own as a good place to live, we face a problem every growing city faces. How we address this problem will determine our city's future.

Between now and when Compassionate Capitol Region offers its next round of public workshops on mindful activism and compassionate conversation, think about your passion and your intelligence. Use your strength with discipline. Be kind. Listen. Learn.

We're complex creatures with a singular, resonate song that we sing no matter our views -- we all wish to belong, to be found worthy and to be loved.

From that place, we can find peace within us and between us.