It's Diversity + Inclusion Month at FreshWater! Find out what's on our radar.

One World FestivalBob PerkoskiOne World Festival

As part of our editorial calendar for FreshWater, we select a different theme to highlight each month in line with our 15 focus areas (which range from social change to technology). For February, we're turning our lens on Diversity + Inclusion—find out what's on the FreshWater team's radar right now.

Bob Perkoski, Managing Photographer: I chose the above image of the One World Festival because this event gives everyone a chance to experience other cultures that reside in Cleveland. Fear is the biggest obstacle in understanding people who are "different" than who we believe we are. In essence, we are all one, and—though we have differences in some ways—in every way we are all human with similar hopes and dreams. The festival brings out the best of the cultures surrounding us and invites us to celebrate different ways of life, alleviating our fears and fostering our understanding that we are all love and all in this together.

Tammy Wise, Publisher: In light of FreshWater’s Diversity + Inclusion month, I invite our readers to join me in YWCA of Greater Cleveland’s upcoming 21-day racial equity and social justice challenge, which runs from March 1-29. The purpose: to create dedicated time and space to build more effective social justice habits. Racial equity and social justice starts with awareness, so let's learn together how we can do our part. Click here for more information or to sign up for the challenge. Once the challenge concludes, I'd love to hear your reactions and insights—drop me a line here.

Jen Jones Donatelli, Managing Editor: Even though women comprise
the majority of artists (at 51 percent), they earn just 81 cents for every dollar made by male artists; additionally, ArtReview’s 2018 Power 100 list of the “most influential people in the contemporary art world” was just 40 percent women.

That's why it's so vital to recognize efforts like "Engaging Women," the upcoming exhibit at Bonfoey Gallery featuring local artists like Leslye Discont Aryan, Harriet Moore Ballard, and many more. Via FreshWater, I'm also grateful for the chance to spotlight the important work of local artists like Liz Maugans, who helped turn a new apartment complex into a living art gallery.

Karin Connelly Rice, Senior News Editor: Through my work for FreshWater, I have found that Cleveland is a diverse city on many fronts. That diversity is what led us to host events like the 2014 Gay Games, the Transplant Games, and even the 2016 Republican National Convention. Cleveland's diversity is also what makes us come out in droves to Dyngus Day in Gordon Square, Night Market Cleveland in AsiaTown, or the Feast of the Assumption in Little Italy. I think Cleveland will continue to embrace and celebrate its rich diversity as we move forward in the next 200 years.

Dana Shugrue, InternMore often than not, people are excluded due to physical differences—a trend that’s been consistent for decades. I recently wrote an article about Lake County’s Deepwood Dancers, a group that entertains and brings awareness to cognitive disabilities. These dancers embrace the skin they’re in and are truly admirable. The group’s recent fundraising effort to compete in the 2019 Special Olympic Games further emphasizes their confidence and defines their refusal to let physical boundaries obstruct their path.

Which Diversity + Inclusion initiatives do you think deserve the spotlight? Share them in the comments (and be sure to check out our recent stories here)!