I spent a week in Corvallis, Oregon gathering stories of belonging. It was a broad coalition of campus and community organizations that brought us to town and as a result, we were able to include a broad range of voices. It’s important, especially when we talk about belonging, to have a big tent, to include as many different voices as possible.
We all tend to live in our own bubbles, where things are familiar and we tend to put our own experience at center stage. But how do we work to expand our view and look outside of that bubble? How do we make sure our invitations welcome those who are outside of our own circles? It’s an ongoing process of learning and evolving.
Our hosts ensured an accessible venue for our studios. They provided ASL and Spanish language interpreters for those who might need them. We varied the studio hours each day so people with different work schedules could find time to stop in. They coordinated transportation for participants who might need it. They invited groups to bring participants from their circles. We organized various gatherings throughout the week so we could connect with different groups.
In the end, it created a rich body of work and (I hope) offered everyone involved a sense of belonging. as well. I see you, I hear you…and you belong.
What does belonging mean to you? Enjoy!