Monett has become a role model in Missouri without even knowing it.
Monett's Hispanic population has been here for 20 years. With a statewide average Hispanic population of 3 percent, Monett has 19 percent, representing about 30 percent of the downtown merchants.
According to Jeanine Rann, state community development coordinator for Missouri Main Street, who visited Monett yesterday, the rest of Missouri looks to Monett to see how the integration of cultures is working.
Hispanic community members discussed issues relating to the mixing of the cultures during last Sunday's meeting of Asociaci--n Latina "Imagen" at the Drury University campus. They talked about communicating with non-Hispanic business customers and possibly placing signs in English in store windows.
Group members commented on the value of looking good to enhance the public view of Hispanics. Like the parents of any teenagers, they said getting that message across to the young people might be the biggest challenge.
The more Hispanics and non-Hispanics interact, the more common ground we're finding. That's good for building a sense of community.
Discussions prompted by the Monett Main Street program this week showed an openness to further the mutual sense of community and a recognition that there is much work still to do. There are those from both cultures who would be comfortable never seeing someone who is different.
Some people never get comfortable with change, but when similarities become more apparent, differences seem less important.
Next week the association is sponsoring Dr. Luis C--rdoba's talk at Monett Middle School about the gang problem, a mutual concern for both cultures. The more both groups work together to solve mutual problems, the greater our shared sense of community will become