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Opening Communication With a 'Day of Dialogue'

May 01, 1996|LEE ROMNEY | TIMES STAFF WRITER

GARDEN GROVE — Orange County Together and the Garden Grove City Council hope to turn the city into ground zero for dozens of frank discussions on cultural diversity and prejudice Thursday by hosting a "Day of Dialogue" that the group hopes to replicate in other cities.

The idea for the day of discussion sprang from living room dialogues Orange County Together has sponsored since 1994 to help residents talk about their varied backgrounds and mend the rifts of intolerance.

Orange County Together's executive director, Pat Callahan, said the organization, which has hosted the living room discussions together with the Orange County Human Relations Commission, realized the importance of bringing the talks into a more visible arena.

Callahan said Garden Grove was selected because business groups and city leaders previously have been receptive to interethnic dialogue and City Councilman Ho Chung strongly supported the idea.

Holding dozens of talks around the city at one time will leave the community prepared for further discussion of interethnic tension or misunderstanding, she said.

"Garden Grove will be left with this network of people who have now talked to each other. They'll be left with facilitators, so if any of these groups want to meet together again, they can."

Dialogues will be held between 7:30 a.m. and 9 p.m. at sites that include local churches and synagogues, the Garden Grove Adult Day Care Center, the Boys and Girls Club and Garden Grove Hospital and Medical Center. The Garden Grove Police Department will host dialogues linked to community policing and the department's Hispanic Advisory Committee is also planning an event.

The Korean American Assn. and the Korean Chamber of Commerce are putting together a bilingual dialogue with translation services, "so we can get monolingual people talking to each other," Callahan said.

Employers also are organizing discussions in the workplace and neighborhood groups are scheduling talks among residents.

Callahan said her organization is interested in launching another day of dialogue in the South County if officials and community leaders are interested.

"In South County, some of the demographic changes are newer, so the hot buttons are pushed a little faster," she said. "What this does is it really teaches residents and community people how to deal with differences."

Information: Orange County Together at (714) 252-1242.

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