Hot Topics Discussions – Inclusive community engagement

What is gained from inclusive community engagement? How do we understand unconscious and internalised racism and white privilege, and how can creating allies be the answer to creating a new world and a new story?  How do you respond to, welcome and work with the diversity of your community?

On the 8th of February 2019 during our 5th webinar in this series of “Hot topics discussion”, with the title “Inclusive community engagement“, we tried to shine a light on those questions. Our guest speakers shared their experiences (in South Africa and Europe) of 10 years of working in a diverse inner-city location and from new approaches in the cultural sectors.

Richard and Hilary co-presented their interventions about their experiences mostly in Tooting (a neighbourhood in London). They have been working hard for many years trying to build up a sense of community and belonging to the neighbourhood in a very diverse cultural melting pot. “We are not talking about how to get diverse communities to come to Transition events: We are talking about practising inclusivity and connecting with a representative mix from our communities”. Instead of “We have a big Muslim population, how do we engage with them” – better to think about how to connect around deep shared values.  Food is a great connector, sharing food culture and organizing events together. Most connections need time and effort, necessary to build long-term relationships. But also connections among different communities is also a way to increase resilience.

The example of Mushkil Aasaan, a home-care service charity, has been shown, and how this charity connects with many different events and organizations all over Tooting, such as Foodival (food festival), or Tooting Community Garden (a useful link to Mushkil Aasaan can be found below).

Nonty shared her personal story, and how racial issues affected her personal life, both in South Africa and Europe. The issue of creating a new better world, more sustainable, more just, more socially equal, but there is still no racial equality: this new world we are trying to create is still a white world.
She had to experience in Europe the problem of VISA and the impossibility to cross borders easily, a continuous discrimination. She discussed the idea of Unconscious racism and White privilege.
She created the charity association “UBUNTU” based on the principles of compassion (literally the translation is: I am because we are and we are because I am). In this work, the creation of safe spaces helps to build awareness and enable better understanding of the ongoing separation between people of different races.

The interaction with participants was incredibly fruitful, participants coming from different places and environments gave their very productive insights.

We understood how the problems of being inclusive is very complex, and solutions have to take into account so many different factors. The issue of immigration was discussed as well, especially in light of the current context in Europe. Another confirmation that we are clearly facing right now a systemic crisis.
Education at all levels is important to make the “shift” to a more social just, less racist, worldwide community. What we are doing right now, such as the present webinar, is already a useful contribution for spreading the awareness about important topics such as this one.

We are putting our small contribution any time an initiative or dialogue such as this one is started, no matter how small it is, it will have its impact.

Thanks to everybody.

And stay tuned for our next webinars!!!

Useful resources from speakers and participants: