The Northland will make a bit of international news this weekend. We may not push Russian bully Vladimir Putin off the top headlines. Yet a more preferable direction in world attitude is being offered. Platte County’s branch for University of Missouri Extension will present the Northland Ethnic Festival 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Saturday, March 29, at Park Hill South High School in Riverside. This event is free. Attendees are encouraged to bring their taste buds and an open mind. We watched for two weeks the Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia. Aside from southern Missouri snow conditions on the ski slopes, all seemed well and the world was united. I did notice that a few Russian medal winners were imported, people who had won medals in the past for other nations. But oh well, we’ve likely borrowed a few competitors over the years. World opinion and mine is less forgiving about Russian takeover of Crimea and threats to the Ukraine. When people someday look back in history, it will be ironically odd and weird that this move took place within weeks of the Olympics. Favorable world opinion that Putin spent billions to achieve faded quickly. But we’ve something to brighten our world outlook as spring creeps forward (besides the fact that the Royals will be playing real baseball again next week). This is the 11th annual Northland Ethnic Festival. Sharen Hunt of MU Extension is organizing an event with song, dance, storytelling, cultural displays and most important — food samples from a global perspective. This event taps the networking done by the Kansas City Ethnic Enrichment Commission, which works with the city’s mayoral office and the Kansas City Parks and Recreation Department. The commission meets regularly and works to build bridges between people with varying cultural heritage. I counted people from 24 nations participating based on Hunt’s event bulletin. They range from Scotland to Gambia, Sweden to Thailand. Some participants will display wares and maps of their country. Others will be part of the performance program. Native American storyteller Jim Two Crows Wallen will speak. Hula dancers will represent the 50th state. This event will also celebrate Platte County’s 175th anniversary. Our county possesses a Native American heritage followed in pioneer times by people with ties to Africa, Ireland, Germany, Scotland, France, England and Mexico. The Platte County Historical Society will be on hand with materials for those who wish to explore our colorful local past. Banneker School Foundation representatives will talk about efforts to save a Parkville historic site. History is peppered with cultural distrust, even hatred. Meanness and violence based on religious faith, skin color or language linger yet today. But events like this are a step forward. Celebrating the good things found in our differences is progress hard won over centuries. Computers tie our world together. So does economics. Speaking of dollars, people from some countries at the festival will have wares or crafts for sale. This event is a partnership between Extension, Riverside, Platte County Parks & Recreation, Park Hill School District, Maple Woods Community College and Mid-Continent Public Library. Media in the digital age has spider-webbed the world together. I have a friend in Russia thanks to the web. My father at World War II’s end helped at a ceremony for a liberated Nazi slave labor camp in Russia, and his father helped design and build the memorial at that camp. He built a website as a remembrance for the camp, which I found and we began exchanging e-mails. What a blessing modern communication provides in helping people understand one another around the globe. Meeting people in person is even better. World troubles will continue. But if you’re tired of the bad news, attend the Northland Ethnic Festival where people are making their corner of the world brighter. Bill Graham, who lives in the Platte City area with his family, may be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.