ROOTS: A Framework for Cultural Belonging
COLLABORATIVE PROJECT DIA ARCHITECTS | KNOXVILLE HAPPINESS COALITION
ROOTS: A Framework for Cultural Belonging, is a collaborative project in Knoxville, TN with DIA Design, Innovation, Architects, & Planning and The Knoxville Happiness Coalition. Creative efforts for Virtual PARKing Day Knox resulted in this framework and design. We were voted 'Best in Show' for the 2020 virtual event!
Harvard conducted an 80 year study on happiness revealing close relationships, more than money or fame, are what keep people happy throughout their lives. Within society we have different classifications according to race, sexual orientation, gender, & age including 5 generations. How do we build community to connect with one another within this time of social distancing? The World Happiness Report released March 2020 shared 1 out of 11 human beings worldwide stated they felt lonely and could not identify a person who they can depend on. Prior to the pandemic, we had an epidemic of loneliness that kills. Research is showing the development of community at work, or companionate love at work, increases productivity, employee engagement, bottom line earnings of the organization with a decrease in employee absenteeism.
When we talk about create a culture of belonging, it’s important to note the key components of culture is how each team member in the organization thinks with their emotions. Changing culture requires changing the way we think. All of us have bias, and what is important is developing self-awareness, a key component of emotional intelligence. This will help us to own the bias, so we do not act upon it, creating discriminatory behavior(s).
Creating a culture of belonging includes practicing the four attributes of empathy. This includes the following:
· Put aside our own perspective seeing the situation through the other person’s eyes.
· Avoiding judgement as we naturally judge as a way to protect ourselves from the pain of the situation.
· Put aside our own feelings about the situation ‘feeling with’ the other person.
· Communicate our understanding of the person’s feelings avoiding advice giving.
It is also important to note the power of listening. In recent conferences for professional counselors & coaches, several psychologists in their lectures stated if we listened to one another as human beings, the levels of anxiety and depression in our population would greatly decrease.
· Why is diversity important at work?
Different backgrounds bring unique viewpoints, & help solve problems with optimal results:
Increases group intelligence
Enriched ideas flourish
Let’s prioritize valuing inclusive practices for our population which is comprised of diversity in age, race, sexual orientation & gender. More specifically, our workforce is comprised of:
· The Silent Generation: 1928-1945
· Baby Boomer: 1946-1964
· Generation X born 1965-1980
54 million 33% workforce
· Millennials 1981-1996
2016 largest generation in workplace 56 million
· Generation Z 1997-2010
2016 9 million 5% workforce
· White 78%
· Black 13%
· Asian 6%
· American Indians & Alaskan Natives 1%
· Native Americans & Pacific Islanders 1%
· WHO ARE LGBTQ WORKERS?
In the U.S., 4.5% of the population identifies as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender
an estimated 11 million LGBT people
88% are employed.
· 75,978,000 women aged 16 and over in the labor force, representing 46.9% of the total labor force.
· 57.1% of women participate in the labor force, compared to 69.1% of men.
Fostering empathetic conversations are key to reducing stigma, & increasing understanding of our differences. An unusual concept we recently began exploring is The Human Library. The concept in a nutshell is for people to gather and have open and honest conversations that can lead to greater acceptance, tolerance and social cohesion in the community along with non-confrontational approach to stigma, stereotypes and prejudices. Our Diversity & Inclusion practices need to include platforms for marginalized groups to be able to speak and contribute to decision making.
The concept of The Human Library more specifically is described here:
“Inside certain libraries you can choose to 'borrow' a person - instead of a book - to listen to the history of their life for about 30 minutes. The point? Limiting prejudice. Everyone has a 'title' such as 'Unemployed', 'Refugee', 'Bipolar', or what have you - but once we listen to their story, we will always be given reasons to realize even deeper - why we should never "judge a book by it's cover."
Our communities can heal as we put listening to one another in the forefront. Let’s purpose to put aside our bias with willingness to learn from one another. Let’s create a psychologically safe space for all people to be who they are and belong. Throw shade on bias by being the change agent of what you want to see in our society. If we wait for others to act, we may be waiting a long time. Taste of the hanging fruit of empathy by listening, feeling with, & understanding a different perspective. Resilient roots grow deep to sustain us through these difficult times. Let’s collectively gather under the tree, partake of the fruit, nurturing our society casting the seed of love wherever we are, creating safe space for all to belong.
Learn more about DIA Design, Innovation, Architects, & Planning
Subscribe to The Knoxville Happiness Coalition podcast!
Life Skills for Leadership is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.