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Diversity at Home
I live in Effort, a community in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania. Effort is just off of Interstate 80 and just a few miles form the New Jersey state border. Effort has approximately 10,789 people in the community, many of whom have moved here to have a better quality of life at more affordable prices. The community itself is middle to upper middle income and the average household salary is $57,880. About two-thirds of Efforts' residents are married and just under half of the people in Effort have children. In many ways, Effort is a traditional American community where many people have two or three children in their family. About 45% of the residents consider themselves "religious," and they are members of the following religions: 28.04% Catholic; 14.09% Protestant; 0.37% Mormon; 2.22% other Christian faith; 0.43% Jewish; 0.01% of an eastern faith; and 0.12% Muslim. Given that over half of the residents do not affiliate with any religion, this allows the community to be quite open in the area of religion. Religion is a part of our community, not, as in some places, the main part of our community.
Although the population in Effort is diverse, it is not as diverse as the United States in general, nor as diverse as many of the cities on the east coast are known to be. However, Effort's population does represent many different religions, races, ethnicities, and cultures. A majority of Effort's residents, 88%, are Caucasian (which is about 10% larger than the United States' percentage of Caucasians). About 7% of the population is African American, 7% is Hispanic, 6% is "Other," 1.5% is Asian, and 0.2% is Native American. Because the term "Hispanic" does not refer to a race but only refers to the fact that this group of people comes from a Spanish speaking Latin American nation, Hispanics can be of any race, such as Caucasian, African, or Asian. For this reason, many who classify themselves as Caucasian, African American, or Asian may also be Hispanic, so the population is Effort is 93% non-Hispanic and the 7% that is Hispanic may be a member of any of the racial groups.
While this population may not be as diverse as others, it has, however, experienced rapid changes in diversity since the year 2000 Census. Since the 2000 Census the population has decreased the percentage of Caucasians and increased its percentages of African Americans, Asians, and Hispanics. While there are some who may not be pleased about these changes, and the focus of the national media on the subject of illegal discrimination has created some tensions at times, the community is known to be one where all live and work well together. This may be due to the fact that while racial and ethnic backgrounds may differ in neighborhoods, neighborhoods themselves are very diverse. This means that people of any race, culture, or ethnicity can live in any neighborhood and frequently do. They know each other as neighbors, many commute to work in New York, New Jersey, or Philadelphia together, and their children all go to school together. In fact, there are more reasons binding our residents together than there are separating them and people tend to focus on those things.
Although my race is Caucasian, my ethnicity is Italian. My book does not discuss Italian Americans, as I suppose we are just included as Caucasians. However, just as Hispanics are not one people, Caucasian's are not just one group. Caucasians may be Russian, Spanish, Portuguese, French, Irish, English, Australian, Canadian, Italian, or have any number of other ethnic or cultural backgrounds. These backgrounds do make people diverse and do give each of us different beliefs or views on subjects. It is not quite fair to try to speak of the diversity of others while at the same time not recognizing the diversity of all of us, whether Caucasian, Asian, or African. This is one thing I wish my community would involve itself more with and help to honor all people in the community with fairs or festivals that bring all people in downtown to share of themselves and their culture with others. It would help all of us get to know each other better and help teach us all about each other.
I could not locate any figures on Italian Americans in Effort of the local Poconos region, there are many Italians in this area. There are many Italian restaurants, cultures, and traditions that are visible and strong in the community. When I look around the community I fit in very well with the majority of residents. The local government and community leaders are mainly Caucasian, so they look very much like me. However, they do not treat those who are not Caucasian any differently than they do those who are. Our community is mainly made up of those with at least a high school education, 83% and the remaining 17% in our community have a college or graduate degree. As a result, our population, regardless of its race or ethnicity, is educated and economically stable, which may go a long way toward achieving power in any community. This may also be the reason that our diverse community shares many of the same goals, beliefs, and views on topics. This helps us all get along well.
The unity of our community is evident in our media. Because we are fairly evenly between New York City and Philadelphia, Effort receives media from both of these large cities. Both New York and Philadelphia have media that is ethnically and racially diverse. Therefore, no matter what your background, you can always find someone that reports the news on these stations who looks or sounds just like you. In addition, because both New York City and Philadelphia have many cultural events and programs for people of different races, cultures, nationalities, and ethnicities, which the media report on or about, those of us in Effort can learn about anything that is particularly about "us" at any time. While it may be reported by media, it does help us feel that, no matter how different we may be, there is always a large group just like us nearby. It helps many fit in and helps provide many people great information on cultural events that help them feel closer to their cultural roots, what ever they may be.
Our local newspapers also provide the same diversity in reporters and reporting stories. The local Pocono Record newspaper is recognized for its diversity and has many articles on issues involving diversity. In fact, today's paper had an article called "Learn About the Kosher Lifestyle this Week," in which the reporter, Beth Brelje, discusses the traditions and facts of being kosher. The article is part of "Poconos Week of Kosher Awareness" and local area Rabbi Mendel Bendet has been visiting local supermarkets to tell people about the health benefits of Kosher food. This kind of community interaction, when less than half of a percent of Pocono/Effort residents are Jewish, shows a large degree of cultural unity and price in our community. Speaking to his office reveals that the needs of many Jewish Kosher visitors and residents are not met in the community and that part of the reason for "Poconos Week of Kosher Awareness" is to increase knowledge and awareness of those needs, as well as teach those not familiar with Kosher practices what is involved and what the benefits may be.
While this may seem to be a small event, its impact and statement regarding diversity appreciation in the Effort and Poconos region is very important. While minorities of all kinds share their lives in this area, all take pride in the many things that make them unique. All also are welcome to share their culture and traditions with the community and, in so doing, they are helping to make themselves a part of the fabric of the community. Many may not share these cultures or traditions, but the ability to have them in the community means many are willing to learn about them and include them in the community. This is very important in a diverse population.
Effort may not be a perfect place to live for all, but it is home to me. It is a beautiful community surrounded by mountains. It also offers very varied and cosmopolitan opportunities for education, art, culture, cuisine and events due to its own efforts and the bustling cities of New York and Philadelphia. Neighborhoods are nicely mixed and all communities take pride in their community. It is a wonderful place for all to live and share their lives.
Census 2000 Demographic Profile Highlights, Effort, Pennsylvania (2000). United States Bureau of the Census. Retrieved February 13, 2008, from =
Effort Pennsylvania People (2007). Best Places. Retrieved February 13, 2008, from http://www.bestplaces.net/zip-code/Zip_Code_18330_Effort_PA-PEOPLE-71833000010.aspx
Rabbi Mendel Bendet and office staff, Chabad Lubavitch of the Poconos. "Poconos Week of Kosher Awareness," February 13, 2008.