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Editorial: Hybrid vigor is healthy for communities too

In the constant rush of events that swirl around us, it's easy to forget that Fargo-Moorhead has always dealt with immigrants settling the area in search of better lives. Norwegians were prominent in the early settlement era. Other northern and western Europeans, including Germans, were prevalent early newcomers who helped shape the area's community and culture.

Any farmer knows the pitfalls of planting only one crop, a monoculture that leaves the grower vulnerable to disaster in the event a disease or pest the plant is susceptible to sweeps through. Besides crop diversification, growers practice crop rotation to help replenish the soils. Plant breeders, meanwhile, borrow desirable traits from a wide range of plant varieties to achieve a stronger, better result.

Hybrid vigor is also healthy and desirable for communities. In recent decades, Fargo-Moorhead has become significantly more ethnically diverse. Local colleges and universities always have been a magnet attracting faculty and students from abroad. So have our hospitals and clinics—which would be unable to function adequately without foreign doctors to care for a population that is growing and aging.

Let's not forget that the chronic labor shortage is the biggest factor limiting North Dakota's economic growth. The scarcity of workers is felt acutely in Fargo-Moorhead, and acts as a brake to inhibit business development and expansion. Immigrants, including refugees, have helped fill jobs to enable business to run smoothly. In fact, before the oil boom, when North Dakota was plagued by persistent out migration, there were years the state's population would have declined without the refugees who settled here.

In terms of culture, Fargo-Moorhead has benefited in recent years from its increasing ethnic diversity, with shops and restaurants bringing goods and flavors from around the world: Mexican, Chinese, African, East Indian and other Asian dishes are now easy to find and enjoy. Residents also have access to a plethora of ethnic festivals and celebrations that enrich cultural life.

Easy to overlook, these are reminders that we should celebrate our increasing ethnic and social diversity, not seek to wind back the clock and pretend that we don't live in a world with increasing global connections, with a society that is more and more coming to resemble the melting pot analogy that the United States has long prided itself on being. We should welcome diversity, not shun those who are different.

Editorials represent the views of Forum management and the Editorial Board.