John Swinton writes, “To be included, you need to be present. To belong, you need to be missed.” While belonging must be felt to be experienced, there are indicators that can foster the realization of this deep human longing. A new resource, just released, goes beyond inclusion to offer very practical suggestions, themes and examples that provide a framework for the belonging experience.
Enhancing Belonging: A Guidebook for Individuals, Organizations, and Communities is the result of a project undertaken by the New Story Group of Waterloo Region in 2013. The group had been discussing inclusion but wanted to go deeper, to discover how and where belonging might occur for members of the community, especially those who are most susceptible to marginalization and exclusion. Led by four members, the Enhancing Belonging Team, the group wanted to provide a process and a resource to assist in creating the environment where belonging might more likely be achieved in community. Through engaging community, collaborating around emerging ideas and exploring stories, five indicators were identified that together provide the rich ground for the experience of belonging.
In the Enhancing Belonging guidebook these five interrelated themes are explored in depth to help the reader discover that a sense of belonging is more likely to be achieved when:
- Community spaces are open, inviting and accessible.
- People are welcomed and acknowledged
- People can participate and contribute in ways that are personally meaningful.
- There are opportunities to come together with others around common interests or goals.
- Policies and practices work to create a culture that nurtures belonging.
Each of these themes are discussed, helpful strategies provided and examples given.
As well, there is a handy Belonging Strategy Checklist and additional resources listed at the back of the guide.
Enhancing Belonging is an important resource for individuals, groups, businesses and organizations who wish to intentionally pursue a community where All belong.
-Submitted by Roz Vincent-Haven