Posts Tagged ‘mutual dependency’


Photo: Jessica Mendoza/Christian Science Monitor
Mike Fleming, owner of Farmers Feed Co., in Stockton, California, wants every customer to feel comfortable.

Well, yes, our country is polarized. But Stockton, California, not so much. Maybe there is something we can learn from the people there about what happens when you get to know the “other.”

Jessica Mendoza writes at the Christian Science Monitor, “When customers walk into Farmers Feed Co., Mike Fleming’s first priority is to make them feel at ease. He goes out of his way to befriend his clientele, ‘whether they spend a dollar or $300.’ When he sees a customer struggling to speak English, he uses his bit of Spanish to communicate with them. …

“ ‘It makes them feel more comfortable … and that’s what I like.’ ”

Fleming — an actual Trump voter and a reason not to see that constituency as monolithic — says this is pretty typical of Stockton.

“A city whose historic ties to agriculture have helped it retain a streak of classic conservatism, Stockton’s population today is 70 percent people of color and 15 percent non-citizens. Immigrants both documented and undocumented work and live with conservative landowners, growers, and businessmen – and family values, hard work, and individual merit are principles that sit side-by-side with opportunity, tolerance, and equality.

“The result is that Stockton – and the San Joaquin Valley in general – provide a snapshot of an increasingly rare reality in 2017 America: what happens when people with a broad range of histories, ethnicities, and ideologies rely on one another within the same community.

“Immigrant advocates here are less inclined to alienate those on the opposite end of the political spectrum by shutting down Republican voices. Local conservatives also tend to be more open to immigration reforms that involve pathways to citizenship for undocumented workers. …

“ ‘In communities where a lot of undocumented immigrants live and work, people are more sympathetic to them,’ notes Sarah Trumble, deputy director of social policy and politics at Third Way, a centrist think tank in Washington. …

“Michael Tubbs, Stockton’s 27-year-old mayor, … says, ‘Because we’re forced to come together, the conversations aren’t in an echo chamber.’

“Given that reality, a city official who wants to get things done has little room to pander to one side or the other with extreme positions on polarizing issues like immigration, Tubbs says. … Just because he disagrees with a group or individual or what they represent, he says, ‘that’s not going to stop me from having a conversation if I need to have a conversation.’ …

“This isn’t to say that Stockton is a political utopia where Republicans and Democrats live in harmony. In the past decade the city has dealt with … events charged with political, socioeconomic, and racial tension. But interviews with Stockton residents and community leaders do suggest that when people view one another as part of the same group – when they are able to empathize with one another because they live and work together – compromise and compassion are more likely to become viable options”

More at the Christian Science Monitor, here.

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