The German American Heritage Center & Museum is partnering with the Davenport-based non-profit Tapestry Farms on a new exhibit, “Our Neighbors, Our Friends: Unsere Nachbarn, Unsere Freunde,” which opens at GAHC on Sunday, Feb. 27 at 712 W. 2nd St., Davenport.
It explores how this five-year-old organization helps new community members from all over the globe right here in West Davenport.
When the GAHC first learned of its nearby neighbors, Tapestry Farms, they knew there were interesting connections to explore, according to a center release. “Tapestry Farms does great work in the community that was once home to many German immigrants generations ago,” it says. “Today our neighborhood is home to immigrants and refugees from around the globe.”
German immigrants in the 1800s brought their music and culture to Iowa, but their abilities in farming and agriculture brought them the ability to support their families and grow our community, according to GAHC. “The same can be said for immigrants and refugees working with Tapestry Farms who have found a home in the QC today.”
“Tapestry Farms helps new families to our area grow not only food, but their connections, community, and sustainable avenues of support,” the release says. “We hope this exhibit can help highlight the good work of our neighbors and friends, Tapestry Farms, and help visitors connect the stories and experiences of their ancestors and relatives to those of our new friends.”
One exciting element of Tapestry Farms’ work is to provide land for refugee populations to do what they do best: farming and growing food for their families and our community, according to GAHC.
Many German immigrants to Davenport and the Midwest did the exact same thing when they were building their new home. In fact, it was often a major factor in choosing their destination. “But now land is at a premium and Davenport is much more urban than when our German immigrant ancestors arrived,” the release says.
Tapestry Farms uses urban properties to create a garden space within the city. This not only provides nourishment in “food deserts” and an income stream for new members of our community, but also the opportunity to find healing, hope, familiarity, and renewed purpose in their new home.
“We see many physical and ideological connections in this endeavor to the German immigrant population,” the release says, noting their first garden is located at 3rd and Brown streets, just a block northwest from the GAHC.
Through Tapestry Farms, refugees are employed to put their agricultural experience, skills, and talents to work, benefiting their new community and their families.
Produce is distributed using an income-based Community Supported Agriculture model — people with limited income pay little to nothing for shares, while people with more income pay more to support the work of Tapestry Farms.
Beyond the agricultural efforts, Tapestry Farms generously invests in the lives of refugees who resettle in the QC and “persistently works to eliminate barriers refugees experience in relation to housing, education, medical and mental health care, work, food, transportation, community, and citizenship,” GAHC says.
This exhibition aims to highlight the many connections between present immigrant and refugee experience in the community and the German immigrant population of the past of which we are so familiar.
“What joy it has been to partner with the German American Heritage Center,” Ann McGlynn, executive director of Tapestry Farms, said this week. “Their care, inquisitiveness, patience, and creativity in building this exhibit has shown us the best of what can be in a partnership between two organizations.
“We are thankful to be able to share some of the stories of the people of Tapestry Farms, in this case people who are refugees from east and central Africa,” she said. “We are eager for people to come and explore the skills, talents, and hopes that newcomers bring to the Quad Cities.”
The new exhibit consists of first-hand accounts of migration, story/text panels, images, temporarily loaned objects from refugees, and media components: video interviews, short stories, etc.
The exhibit is in GAHC’s first-floor gallery, with many associated workshops and programs to accompany this engaging exhibition topic. The center will host an opening reception of the exhibition Sunday, March 6th at 4:30 p.m.