With open arms

Five Chicoans embrace their differences and encourage others to do the same

Chico carries its share of labels, both affirming and cringe-worthy. It’s considered one of America’s top art towns … and one of the top party towns. It also gets painted with the whitewash of a picket fence—quaint, homey and homogenized.

Diversity traces back to the days of John Bidwell, who welcomed American Indians as well as Chinese immigrants to the town he founded. Chico may have more whites than people of color, but this is hardly a place with a single shade.

Both at Chico State and in the city at large, people work hard to foster diversity. They bring in foreign students and help American students go overseas. They promote cultural exchange. They improve access for the disabled and provide safe spaces for people figuring out their sexual identity.

Students in Dave Waddell’s feature-writing journalism class at Chico State documented some of their stories, and we’re proud to publish them here.