Greenport residents and town officials are getting together in a newly formed coalition with a big goal — fostering understanding between the town’s immigrant and Latino residents and the community at large.
The One Greenport Coalition came about shortly after the November presidential election, according to Greenport Village board of trustees member Doug Roberts, who helped to spearhead the new group’s creation.
Greenport has had a “long and proud tradition of immigration,” said Roberts, noting the village has been home to emancipated slaves during the Civil War era and Eastern European and Irish immigrants, among other groups, in later generations.
According to census data, Hispanics made up 34.0 percent of Greenport’s population in 2010, up from 17.2 percent in 2000.
However, Roberts noticed that during some village board discussions during the presidential campaign over subdivision and rental-housing applications that some residents had “the idea that it would be overcrowded with certain types of people.”
Amid concerns from some residents about what the election would mean for immigrant and Latino residents in Greenport, former Greenport Mayor David Kapell suggested to Roberts that he do something to help bring people together. Roughly a month after the election, more than a dozen local residents have signed up for the new coalition.
“We’re still figuring out what we’re going to do, but the focus is on unity and bringing people together, sharing cultural ideas and backgrounds and making neighbors feel comfortable in the village where they live,” Roberts said.
Ramona Miranda, 30, a group member and Greenport resident since she was 2, whose parents emigrated from Guatemala in 1989, said that while she was growing up in the village she found Greenport to be welcoming to people from different ethnic backgrounds.
However, her daughter Aly, who is in fourth grade in the village, has expressed fears over what the election means for the parents of her immigrant friends.
“She came home from school one day and said, ‘Hey, my friend’s parents are going to get deported’ and I said, ‘What? You shouldn’t even know what that means,’ ” Miranda said.
Group member Patty Carlos, 53, a Greenport resident for 35 years with Colombian roots, said the group wants to focus on Hispanic residents, but also others from different cultures.
“We want the group to have people from all over as we get more involved with the village to help make it a nice place to live, where everyone is comfortable and everybody has good information and there is always a good vibe,” Carlos said.
Diana Gordon, a Greenport resident, group member and author, studied the lives and contributions of Greenport’s Latino immigrants in her book “Village of Immigrants: Latinos in an Emerging America.”
“It’s absolutely crucial that Greenport be welcoming as it can be,” she said.
Yvonne Lieblein, a group member who grew up in Greenport, said: “Greenport is like a tapestry, with all of these different cultures and socioeconomic groups woven together. To me, it’s one of the most special things about this place.”
One Greenpoint Coalition
- The One Greenport Coalition meets on the second Wednesday of every month at 8 a.m.
- According to the 2010 census data, Hispanics made up 34.0 percent of Greenport’s population as of 2010, up from 17.2 percent in 2000.
- The coalition seeks to work with local government, schools, and other local institutions to provide information on all cultures represented in Greenport.
- People interested in attending or joining can email Doug Roberts at: firstname.lastname@example.org