Abdi Nor Iftin is a Somali-American writer, radio journalist and public speaker. He lives in Yarmouth and can be contacted at noriftin@gmail.com.

A day before the start of autumn, I pulled into the parking lot of Udder Heaven near Bar Harbor to get my favorite ice cream – a scoop of Moose Tracks and a scoop of coffee together in a cone. I was sad to discover, however, that the shop had closed for the season. Disappointed but undeterred, I headed to Morton’s Moo Ice Cream in Ellsworth. I realized that this would likely be my last outdoor ice cream adventure for the year, as the chilly embrace of pumpkin spice season beckoned.

It was a fulfilling summer as I learned more about Maine. Did I mention that I took tours of the Black House Museum and the Telephone Museum and enjoyed a ride on the Downeast Scenic Railroad, all in Ellsworth?

It seems I’m adopting a distinctly “Mainer” attitude this year. Despite the arrival of crisp fall air, I haven’t packed up my belongings or left the cabin in the woods just yet. I’ve merely dusted off my winter coat and cozy fleece shirts. I’m watching as the trees around us change colors rapidly, making it seem as though Maine is donning a  magnificent coat for the new season. We should all take the time to appreciate it before the leaves gracefully descend.

Unfortunately, many of Maine’s newer residents, despite being so close to the breathtaking colors of fall, miss out on this natural spectacle along with the many other events of fall.

There are several things we can do to ensure that minority communities don’t miss out. One crucial area is information sharing. In neighborhoods in Lewiston and in Portland’s Riverton area, which have a significant immigrant population, residents often rely on television broadcasts in their native languages for news and updates. For instance, Somali households typically watch broadcasts of Somali news and sports originating from Somalia or Kenya. Information from their home countries is readily accessible, but details about life in Maine, such as local fall events, remain elusive to them.

The popular Common Ground Fair just ended, visited by many Mainers and out-of-staters, but a majority of Maine’s immigrants aren’t aware that the famous fair exists. Other fall festivities are happening in and around our towns, but information about them isn’t readily available in languages other than English, making them unavailable to a significant portion of the immigrant population.

I scour the pages of our local newspapers each day to unearth information before I turn to the Somali news. I even spent a morning this weekend in the woods in Trenton with a local paper reading about a kids’ carnival and boat rides from local captains who generously donate their boats and time. It’s time for us to prioritize the sharing of information like this within our local communities.

Those of us who speak multiple languages can take the initiative to collaborate with the local dominant newspapers and radio stations to have events advertised in different languages. We can organize, for example, fall foliage tours to the best places so immigrants can witness this breathtaking natural phenomenon.

It’s important for our diverse communities to stay connected with news from their home countries given the ties we have with family members abroad, but it’s equally crucial that we are aware of what’s happening and what’s offered in our adopted state of Maine.

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