Village Of Immigrants
"Greenport is not far from towns where hostility to recent
arrivals is the norm. By contrast, however, it is relatively
peaceful. I decided to channel my general curiosity into a particular
investigation: how twenty-first-century immigrants in this village
were faring in the ambiguous atmosphere of current immigration
policy. What interested me most was the ecology of a small town
undergoing demographic transformation, the interplay of lives and
Diana R. Gordon, author of Village Of Immigrants: Latinos In An
Emerging America had taught a PhD level class on American Immigration
Policy twice before she experienced professional discomfort. She felt
that she didn't understand enough about the practical implications of
this policy for either native born or immigrants. "I could not
illuminate for my students the daily details that would have turned
the history and theory of my classes into rich reality."
Gordon moved to Greenport on New York's Long Island. A third of
its 3,000 full time residents (as opposed to second home summer
visitors) were immigrants, mostly from Latin America. Many were
undocumented, unable to obtain more than low income and/or seasonal
work. Although many homeowners and owners of businesses like
restuarants depended on them for cheap labor, there were concerns that
they would make the village a less desirable place in which to live.
Gordon delved into every facet of immigrant life: the schools,
the health care system, places of residence, work opportunities, and
encounters with law enforcement. She found that although her subjects
had better lives than they would have experienced in their countries
of origin, they still faced formidable challenges.
Gordon's format makes for a lively and informative read. Her
first chapters offer up historical bacground to set the scene. The
remainder of her chapters are paired, one on a particular facet of
life followed by a personal narrative, illustrative of the points
covered. For example, the chapter on housing is followed by one on
the struggle of Sofia to keep a roof over her family's head.
Village Of Immigrants beautifully conveys the human dimension
and "rich reality" she had regretted not being able to give her
students. This insightful book is a must read for all wishing to cope
constructively with the changing demographics that are changing
America into a nation where non Hispanic whites will soon be in the
On a personal note, the community garden is coming along beautifully.
Tuesday was the first day we distributed veggies to our people who
were delighted. We'd worked for weeks to make that possible. This
year we gardeners get live music while we work. The concerts that
used to be over in Webster Park are now in back of the library. Fun
work, friends, refreshments, and live music! Who can ask for more?
I'm scheduled to donate blood next Tuesday. I'm betting all the
organic spinach I'm eating is keeping my blood rich in iron.
A great big shout out goes out to my community garden family and the
musicians who provided us with such fine musical entertainment.
Sent from my iPod