There is a need for building communities, be it for any purpose, be it a school, religious, or social communities. The need for community building can not be over emphasis, as this encourages growth among individuals and group of people.
What is a community?
A community is a social unit with commonality such as norms, religion, values, customs, or identity. Communities may share a sense of place situated in a given geographical area or in virtual space through communication platforms. (Wikipedia).
The word INCLUSIVE.
The definition of inclusive is something that does not leave any part or group out.
What is INCLUSIVE COMMUNITY?
An inclusive community is a community that over-rides differences of race, gender, class,
generation, and geography, and ensures inclusion, equality of opportunity as well as
capability of all members of the society to determine an agreed set of social institutions
that govern social interaction. (Expert Group Meeting on Promoting Social Integration,
Helsinki, July 2008).
WHY BUILD AN INCLUSIVE COMMUNITY?
Just as everyone needs love and friendship and an opportunity to contribute, everyone needs community. We all need to know and believe that we belong to something bigger. Whether it is family, friends at work, Religious affiliation or the gym; it is comforting and healthy to be surrounded by people with whom we are familiar; whom we care about and who care about us. Equally, no matter “who” you are, “how” you are or what you’ve been told, you are important. You have something unique to contribute. You have a talent, a skill, an interesting insight or story to share. Just by accessing and giving to the community, you bring a unique and necessary perspective to the social conversation, one based on your individual experiences: how you’ve gotten around and interacted with the world, what you’ve been taught and how you’ve been treated. Without you, your perspective and the contributions that you bring, the community is diminished. The Community, to be all it can be, needs you. It needs everyone.
• Mold the values of the next generation of Developers
• Provides opportunities for friendships
• Prepares individuals for adult life in the community
• Maintains a typical family structure to life
• Cultivates an enriched learning environment
• Acts of exclusion and injustice based on group identity and other factors should not be allowed to occur and/or continue.
• All people have the right to be part of decisions that affect their lives and the groups they belong to.
• Diversity enriches our lives, so it is worth our while to value our community's diversity.
BEING “IN” VERSUS BEING “OF” THE COMMUNITY
This all sounds great but there is a problem … and it has to do with whether or not one has the opportunity to truly and fully participate; to contribute. It has to do with the fundamental difference between being “in” the community and being “of” the community. Anyone can be “in” the community. We can go to the store, live in an apartment, attend school or church and be “in” the community, but still not be “of” the community. Being “of” the community is much more complicated. Unfortunately, it requires a status of “member” be “bestowed” upon the person or group by a majority of the community. It requires membership be recognized, validated and supported by law makers, educators, employers, public and social service, housing, and medical providers, by the various religious communities and by the general population.
Anything short of this broad acceptance, this whole new way of thinking, and we remain marginalized, perhaps “in” but not “of” community. We remain without a sense of belonging or “real” connection, no sense of equity. Without equity, without voice, we (and our communities) have less chance of developing wholly and healthily. Opportunities to participate become less possible and those left out can only struggle against continued marginalization.
HOW TO SUPPORT INCLUSION.
Many times an inclusive environment is not readily available to people. However this does not preclude the possibility of achieving an inclusive environment for your community. Below are ways to create and support an inclusive community environment.
• Develop a vision for your community inclusion and be able to get others excited about the opportunity. • Begin early in order to give yourself proper time to accomplish your goal. • Develop a network of resources: ◦ Professionals and teachers who support your vision ◦ Consultants with expertise in inclusion ◦ Examples of other members who are being successfully included • Facilitate communication between the various community members involved with your community. Helping to ensure everyone is connected and that concerns are addressed can make a non-traditional inclusive setting work more effectively. • Consider the use of grant money to support your efforts. Various business and not-for-profit organizations may have money available to support individuals in an inclusive setting.
The work of building inclusive communities is not easy; results will not occur overnight. It takes time, patience, perseverance, and courage, because this work is about transforming attitudes, behaviors, and policies. It requires strategies that operate at multiple levels, including the individual, group, and institutional levels.
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