A photograph of candles burning on an altar placed in front of a painting of a young black man

Dear friends,

Culture is essential to our survival. Culture plays a vital role in understanding what it means to be human and our particularly human needs. Culture signals in a way that is direct and experiential, speaking to the conscious and the subconscious. Culture helps unite the heart and the mind.

Culture can move people in a way that policies alone cannot. People largely organize themselves and operate around stories and beliefs, not around facts. And they organize more around love and belonging than shame and fear.

In a new report from the Haas Institute, Notes on a Cultural Strategy for Belonging, author Evan Bissell provides ideas for understanding some of the vital and visionary aspects of culture and the growing field of cultural strategy. This is a paper focused on both being and doing—it offers up a historical and contemporary exploration of arts and culture for social change, and it also has case studies and resources for building a cultural strategy based on belonging. This approach is rooted in the leadership, storytelling, practices, and knowledge of people and communities who have been most directly and deeply impacted by systems of oppression, and who are often at the vanguard of advancing justice and liberation.

Notes on a Cultural Strategy for Belonging elevates cultural expressions that celebrate our differences, while providing models that create space for more fully recognizing that which we share.

As we continue in our work to find ways of expanding and enlarging the "we," culture will, as it always has, play a major role in how we lean into a future that says to everyone: You belong.

john a. powell
Director, Haas Institute
Professor of Law, African American, and Ethnic Studies at UC Berkeley

PS. Sharing is caring. We'd love for this resource to be utilized widely, so have created a public social media guide anyone can use to spread the word about this new report. Feel free to use any of the images below, with credit back to @haasinstitute.

Graphic with purple background that reads: 1: Cultivate vibrant and diverse forms of cultural practice that support the growth of leadership and practice of those directly and deeply impacted by systems of oppression.
Graphic with purple background that reads: 2- Amplify the knowledge, insight and vision that comes through culture and cultural production and create containers and experiences where this knowledge, insight and vision can be expressed and understood on it
Graphic with purple background that reads: 3: Align with efforts for material, political, and social change
social media graphic with purple background  that reads: Notes on C4: Make social and cultural change into a new  “common sense.”

Cover image of Notes on a Cultural Strategy for Belonging report:  Reflections of Healing Collaborative Community Project, by Brett Cook. Little Bobby Hutton Power Figure Oakland Museum Installation.  9’ X 20’ Paint pen, oil pastel, spray enamel, acrylic, multi media on wood with Bobby Hutton Quote/Black Panther Party point No. 10 Collaboratively colored in Amharic, Vietnamese, Spanish, Korean, Arabic, and Chinese 2012.

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