Today design for the Journal of Belonging was completed, and files were sent to Project Kalahati to be published! This is a major milestone in a larger concept, Movement of Belonging (MOB). And currently I am in conversation with multiple potential participant groups: secondary and higher education, not-for-profit leaders, corporate teams, and neighborhood coalitions. Momentum is rolling!
Movement of Belonging combines the superpowers of curiosity, diversity, and creativity to cultivate awareness, instigate meaningful dialogues, reveal deeper understandings, birth collective imagining, and foster Belonging in real ways. Key phases of Movement of Belonging include (1) journal entries and group sharing, (2) collaborative art projects, and (3) public engagement.
Phase I: Journal entries and group sharing.
Participants use the Journal of Belonging to record their day-to-day experiences of Othering and Belonging. The journal is designed to encourage multi-sensory reflection and creativity, prompting not only verbal documentation, but also emotional, visual, and kinesthetic inputs. In a concise, user-friendly format, the user is invited to consider what the eyes see, what the heart feels, and how the body reacts.
Participants are from pre-existing groups that already meet (e.g., KIPP King Collegiate High School’s sophomore history class). Each group forms weekly reflection circles to share their experiences of Othering and Belonging from their journal entries. I co-facilitate the group with a male of color, who also has deep experience in social justice-related facilitation of both youth and adults. Facilitation guides each group towards systems thinking and explores key questions, such as “What are ways to encourage deeper self-reflection, empathy, and cultural humility?”, “When and how does Othering at the human level morph into Othering at the systemic level?”, and “What might be pathways to institutionalize universal Belonging?”
Phase II: Collaborative art projects
The stories and fresh perspectives serve as inspiration for continued exploration via collaborations of visual art, storytelling, music, and performance. Both my co-facilitator and I possess significant experience guiding artists and “non-artists” to generate works exploring particular social themes. (Over the course of four years, I oversaw the development, implementation, and exhibition of more than 65 public projects in 13 countries. Coaching the development of collaborative art projects is a passion, and one of my artistic talents!)
Phase III: Public engagement
This is where the meta-learning comes in! Participants will be coached to design their projects in a way that invites the public to contribute to the expansion of the project. This can look one hundred different ways, but the idea is to allow the spark to ripple into new impacts. In doing so, participants are able to apply what they taught themselves - how to foster Belonging - by being challenged to co-design a public experience that fosters Belonging.
To complement the collaborative projects, I will create an aesthetically-beautiful, artistic multimedia representation of the work. Large-scale elements of journal entries, including participant sketches, word excerpts, image and video of body movements and postures, and audio recordings will draw the public audience into the tangible realities of authentic experiences of Othering and Belonging. This installation serves as the foundational backdrop to the collaborative work that may include visual art, storytelling, music, and performance.
Additionally, an online platform invites the public to download the Journal and upload content to be incorporated into the exhibition and an online repository.
So, would you like to join the Movement of Belonging? Everybody’s doin’ it… But for real, being heard and seeing yourself in another break down these artificial barriers we have created.
Belonging grows when diversity co-creates. Let’s imagine something different, together.