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Editor's note: This article belongs to our Impact Stories series in which scholars, activists, artists, policymakers, and everyday people share their experiences putting OBI's research and principles into action in their communities.


Employees in the IT Department at the City of Minneapolis where I work are experiencing many emotions as a result of tragic killings, including the recent attack at Club Q. We are horrified. We are distraught. We are disheartened. We are angry.

Elise Balderrama headshot
Elise Balderrama

I shared the belonging statement and a link to the OBI weekly practice page with a core team in our department who are intentionally doing equity and inclusion work. Your belonging statement brought solace to our team. More and more I hear people talk about belonging at work. 

The City of Minneapolis has expanded its race and equity office into a City Department, now under Tyeastia Green’s leadership, and now with belonging in its name: Racial Equity, Inclusion and Belonging.

I learned about your organization a few years ago through the Government Alliance on Race and Equity.

Over the last two and half years, after George Floyd was killed, I have shared links to your organization many times, with various people in the Twin Cities metro area, city leaders in Minneapolis and Bloomington, community activists and communications folks.

Your work rings true to me as a way to create change and healing, an approach to policy and power sharing that seems achievable if we continue to act step-by-step. I listened to some of your podcasts with youth talking about their bridging to belonging experience and I can see how impactful that practice could be to bring people together in spite of our differences. The way the youth took to the leadership role in the circles, and found their own strengths was so moving.

I watch john a. powell on YouTube when I need to be uplifted and need a spark of motivation to keep advocating for systems change. And I have begun reading bell hooks’ books after watching her and john on YouTube together at recorded conferences. I can see how Targeted Universalism, along with love, is the way forward. 

You are making a difference. You bring me hope.

Elise Balderrama works in the IT Department at the City of Minneapolis. She is speaking only on her behalf and not on behalf of the City of Minneapolis.