Interview to Tiziana Caponio
This year, the annual campaign and celebration Welcoming Week is from September 9-18 and the theme is Where We Belong. Welcoming America strongly encourages grassroots initiatives and provides tips and support for who wants to participate. You can find all the information on their website: welcomingamerica.org/initiatives/welcoming-week
Why is Whole-COMM partnering with Welcoming America?
I learnt about Welcoming America while doing fielwork in my previous research project on migration city networks and multilevel governance. Compared to City Network organisations in Europe, which essentially gather together municipal governments, Welcoming America puts more of an emphasis on the local community and on the grassroots mobilisation of public and non-public actors on migration-related issues. This approach to immigrant integration is clearly relevant and extremely insightful for the Whole-COMM Consortium, that explicitely conceives of immigrant integration as a whole-of-community process that takes place in specific local contexts and is brought about by the interactions of the multiple actors – individuals, organisations, institutions and corporate entities –with their multilevel and multi-situated relations, networks, interests and resources.
What are the Welcoming Weeks? And why Whole-COMM is supporting this initiative?
Welcoming Week is an annual campaign and celebration to showcase the movement of communities striving to be more welcoming places for all, including migrants. Launched in 2012 by Welcoming America and its members in the United States, Welcoming Week is now a global movement that brings communities and neighbors of all backgrounds together to build strong connections and affirm the importance of inclusive places.
Whole-COMM is supporting the Welcoming Weeks since they clearly reflect the whole-of-community approach to integration mentioned above. By bringing together a multiplicity of local actors to celebrate the welcoming culture in many small communities across the United States, the WW provides a model for those communities that in Europe want to make a difference in embracing change and making the most for everyone, immigrants and local residents alike.
How is Whole-COMM engaging with local communities in supporting a whole-of-community approach to immigrant integration? What concrete activities are to be promoted?
Whole-COMM seeks to engage local communities first of all as research partners, to learn from them the everyday challenges they have to face in their attempts to integrate asylum seekers and refugees. Beyond research, Whole-COMM is also committed to work with and for local communities. More specifically, Whole-COMM will engage in quasi-experimental research to explore with a selected group of small localities and rural areas concrete policy actions that can strengthen mutual knowledge and positive interethnic relations. Furthermore, Whole-COMM will complement this grassroots work with stakeholders’ involvement in the PolicyCommunity Labs. These multilevel and international policy dialogue venues will critically assess and discuss the Whole-COMM research results in an interactive manner, with the specific aim of sharing strategies that strengthen community cohesion and resilience.