Banner image: "Need for Hope" by Joey Guidone.
We at OBI believe in the power of belonging. We understand it to be a rich concept and practice that is capable of meeting our world's biggest challenges. In that spirit we have committed ourselves to researching ways to build for belonging in places from classrooms to governments. Our journey in understanding belonging draws on wisdom from diverse fields, practitioners, cultures, storytellers, artists, activists and others. Our understanding of belonging is uniquely enhanced through the guidance of the Institute’s Director john a. powell. You can watch this quick video to be introduced to john powell speaking about OBI and Belonging.
While this page will offer many resources that further illustrate the contours and applications of belonging, here are a few big ideas we actively hold about belonging.
First, we recognize othering as the biggest issue of our time, and belonging as the solution to addressing othering in all its forms. Solving one form of othering will not by default address all concurrent forms of othering; it will take multiple strategies to move away from othering and towards belonging.
Second, belonging is both aspirational and practical. We encourage individuals and society as a whole to envision what a world of belonging could look and feel like, pushing the boundaries of what is possible. And practically, we emphasize the importance of taking regular and focused actions to foster belonging in tangible ways.
Third, belonging includes everyone, yes, everyone.
Lastly, belonging is a felt personal experience that is intertwined with the structural systems that shape our lives. While a “sense of belonging” is felt within us as individuals, that feeling’s ability to arise is heavily influenced by the societal systems we utilize and are a part of. To nurture belonging, we must address both its personal and the structural contributors. We recommend reading Belonging Design Principles to learn more about building for belonging.
Places of Belonging:
Places of Belonging is an expansive vision and initiative to co-create places around the world that are built to benefit everyone. While the vision is big and far-reaching, we are starting by applying practical, state, city, and organization-based strategies that begin to build and exemplify comprehensive approaches to building for belonging. A place of belonging can take many shapes or sizes, scaling from a classroom to the federal government. No matter the size, its central premise is that the place has made a commitment to advancing belonging within its context. When co-creating Places of Belonging, we rely on implementing practices related to Bridging, Targeted Universalism, Narrative, Arts and Culture, and more to inform a coordinated approach to change that is durable and can withstand attempted fracturing. The initiative is informed by OBI’s ongoing research, practitioner community, and collaborative partners. You will be able to learn much more about Places of Belonging at our 2024 Conference. We look forward to seeing you there!