The free “We Are One” Multicultural Festival, hosted by Newtown Nation, will showcase sights, sounds and flavors from around the world. Proceeds will go to a new program for incarcerated folks re-entering society.
By Allison Forsyth, Sarasota Magazine
Does the culture you come from have delicious food, vibrant music and dancing and other unique qualities to offer? The nonprofit organization Newtown Nation wants you to share them.
From Friday, May 6, to Sunday, May 8, the nonprofit—which supports the health, happiness and safety of Sarasota’s Newtown neighborhood—will host the “We Are One” Multicultural Festival. The free, family-friendly event will feature booths with authentic food from around the world, a variety of performances, family heritage showcases and workshops for kids. The goal is to represent the diverse sub-communities within our town.
Newtown Nation has also partnered up with the Newtown Farmers Market to put on the event. Proceeds from it will go toward an upcoming program called “Miracle to New,” dedicated to helping previously incarcerated people re-enter society, as well as bringing fresh produce to the community more than twice a week.
“Miracle to New will offer all basic skills necessary for a successful life after incarceration,” says Newtown Nation chair Danette Williams. “This includes life and parenting skills, financial advice and career support. Even just the ‘adulting’ things, like paying bills.”
While Miracle to New does not yet have a physical location, Williams said the organization is working toward setting up shop in the Boys & Girls Club of Sarasota. Until then, festivals like We Are One and the recent Giving Challenge, where more than $4,900 was donated to Newtown Nation, will allow Miracle to New to announce its presence.
“Newtown Nation is also running several youth programs, some of which you can witness during the festival this weekend,” says Williams. These include a spoken word and young poet workshop on Friday, May 6, taught by Van Wezel teaching artist Stevey Jones and a digital/social media workshop on Saturday, May 7. Jones also teaches mindfulness meditation once a month to local youth.
Williams says Newtown Nation is all about supporting youth getting started in the world of business and even becoming entrepreneurs. The organization has partnered with another program from God Is Real Ministry in Palmetto called Billionaire Babies, led by director Shovanda Griffin.
“This program helps kids with an entrepreneurial spirit get started creating their own business, from how to scale the business to saving money and staying focused,” Williams explains.
The festival weekend will wrap on Sunday, May 8, with a Mother’s Day worship session, led by local choir groups and praise dancers.
“We are happy to offer more and more to this community to make it a supportive place to live,” Williams says. “Whether that is through helping teach life skills or bringing more fresh, affordable produce through the commercial refrigerator the Chamber of Commerce donated for our market, we’re here to help.”
The “We Are One” Multicultural Festival will take place Friday, May 6 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.; Saturday, May 7 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday, May 8 from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m., at Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Park; 2523 Cocoanut Ave., Sarasota.