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The Connecting Communities Initiative gathers diverse residents and leaders to work together to assure that greater Houston becomes a united and inclusive multi-ethnic society in which every person has the opportunity to contribute to the good of the region.
Research of Rice University’s Kinder Institute for Urban Research shows that greater Houston is the most racially and ethnically diverse region in the U.S. and is “25 years ahead” of the rest of urban America in terms of its diversity. However, Houston is also the most income-segregated of the ten largest U.S. metropolitan areas per the Pew Research Center. This has serious implications for how this demographic shift will play out over time. “This ethnic transformation could be the greatest asset that Houston could have. Or it could tear us apart.” (Steve Klineberg, Ph.D., rice.edu)
…began in 2011 when the Institute for Sustainable Peace partnered with Kinder Institute to convene and facilitate a series of meetings among 51 diverse leaders reflective of the four major demographic groups in the region – African-Americans, Anglos, Asians, and Latinos – to explore what must be done to assure that greater Houston makes a successful transition as a multi-ethnic society. The 51 participants, facilitated by ISP’s CEO, met in one overnight retreat then six Saturdays, producing a major report that can be accessed on ISP’s website. ISP has facilitated several meetings of diverse groups to address their recommendations.
We are currently planning a workshop for March 27-28 to introduce local activists and leaders to skills for convening and facilitating community conversations on subjects of great importance to our region. The day-and-a-half workshop with guest facilitator Dr. Rita Fierro and local facilitator Randy Butler, will begin with a Friday afternoon World Café Dialogue. The dialogue will be centered on the theme of Equal Justice For All. This powerful process will begin a conversation, which will be further developed the following day (Saturday) in a full day workshop, in which participants will continue to learn through engagement and reflection. The training will include approaches to hosting conversations, storytelling, conflict transformation, harvesting tools and reflective processes to support and foster innovative, and productive dialogue where everyone truly contributes and is valued.