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Now What?!

Invitations Blog

October 12 - November 20, 2020

ROOTS: A Framework for Cultural Belonging

Updated: Oct 16, 2020

ROOTS: A Framework for Cultural Belonging, is a collaborative project in Knoxville, TN with DIA Design, Innovation, Architects, & Planning and The Knoxville Happiness Coalition. Creative efforts for Virtual PARKing Day Knox resulted in this framework and design. We were voted 'Best in Show' for the 2020 virtual event!

We hope you will join us in the Fall version of the NOWWHAT?! Collective to implement The Human Library.This will be on the Cafe Menu throughout our time together every Tuesday 7pm EST, and Wednesday 2pm EST. Please join and let someone check you out:)

Belonging occurs when we authentically show up with a diverse group of people with full acceptance finding common ground.

In this blog post we share the heart of our project pulsing with the why, hoping to implement the how collectively.

Harvard conducted an 80 year study on happiness revealing close relationships, more than money or fame, are what keep people happy throughout their lives. Within society we have different classifications according to race, sexual orientation, gender, & age including 5 generations. How do we build community to connect with one another within this time of social distancing? The World Happiness Report released March 2020 shared 1 out of 11 human beings worldwide stated they felt lonely and could not identify a person who they can depend on. Prior to the pandemic, we had an epidemic of loneliness that kills. Research is showing the development of community at work, or companionate love at work, increases productivity, employee engagement, bottom line earnings of the organization with a decrease in employee absenteeism.

When we talk about create a culture of belonging, it’s important to note the key components of culture is how each team member in the organization thinks with their emotions. Changing culture requires changing the way we think. All of us have bias, and what is important is developing self-awareness, a key component of emotional intelligence. This will help us to own the bias, so we do not act upon it, creating discriminatory behavior(s).

Creating a culture of belonging includes practicing the four attributes of empathy. This includes the following:

· Put aside our own perspective seeing the situation through the other person’s eyes.

· Avoiding judgement as we naturally judge as a way to protect ourselves from the pain of the situation.

· Put aside our own feelings about the situation ‘feeling with’ the other person.

· Communicate our understanding of the person’s feelings avoiding advice giving.

It is also important to note the power of listening. In recent conferences for professional counselors & coaches, several psychologists in their lectures stated if we listened to one another as human beings, the levels of anxiety and depression in our population would greatly decrease.

· Why is diversity important at work?

Different backgrounds bring unique viewpoints, & help solve problems with optimal results:

  • Enriches innovation

  • Increases group intelligence

  • Enriched ideas flourish

Let’s prioritize valuing inclusive practices for our population which is comprised of diversity in age, race, sexual orientation & gender. More specifically, our workforce is comprised of:

· The Silent Generation: 1928-1945

3% workforce

· Baby Boomer: 1946-1964

41 million

· Generation X born 1965-1980

54 million 33% workforce

· Millennials 1981-1996

2016 largest generation in workplace 56 million

· Generation Z 1997-2010

2016 9 million 5% workforce

· White 78%

Hispanic 17%

· Black 13%

· Asian 6%

· American Indians & Alaskan Natives 1%

· Native Americans & Pacific Islanders 1%


In the U.S., 4.5% of the population identifies as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender

an estimated 11 million LGBT people

88% are employed.

· 75,978,000 women aged 16 and over in the labor force, representing 46.9% of the total labor force.

· 57.1% of women participate in the labor force, compared to 69.1% of men.

Fostering empathetic conversations are key to reducing stigma, & increasing understanding of our differences. An unusual concept we recently began exploring is The Human Library. The concept in a nutshell is for people to gather and have open and honest conversations that can lead to greater acceptance, tolerance and social cohesion in the community along with non-confrontational approach to stigma, stereotypes and prejudices. Our Diversity & Inclusion practices need to include platforms for marginalized groups to be able to speak and contribute to decision making.

The concept of The Human Library more specifically is described here:

“Inside certain libraries you can choose to 'borrow' a person - instead of a book - to listen to the history of their life for about 30 minutes. The point? Limiting prejudice. Everyone has a 'title' such as 'Unemployed', 'Refugee', 'Bipolar', or what have you - but once we listen to their story, we will always be given reasons to realize even deeper - why we should never "judge a book by it's cover."

Our communities can heal as we put listening to one another in the forefront. Let’s purpose to put aside our bias with willingness to learn from one another. Let’s create a psychologically safe space for all people to be who they are and belong. Throw shade on bias by being the change agent of what you want to see in our society. If we wait for others to act, we may be waiting a long time. Taste of the hanging fruit of empathy by listening, feeling with, & understanding a different perspective. Resilient roots grow deep to sustain us through these difficult times. Let’s collectively gather under the tree, partake of the fruit, nurturing our society casting the seed of love wherever we are, creating safe space for all to belong.

Learn more about Virtual PARKing Day Knox 2020 and view our award winning submission here:

Learn more about DIA Design, Innovation, Architects, & Planning here:

Learn more about The Knoxville Happiness Coalition here:

BIO Alexia Georghiou, Collective Member NOWWHAT?! 2020 Spring & Fall Editions

Alexia Georghiou, founder principal with The Resilient Pathway, is a consultant with 25 years of experience teaching healthy cultural & social norms to individuals, groups, & families with well-being tools, fostering wholeness in communities. Specialist with communication, problem solving & conflict resolution training, evidenced by the ability of families worked with to mend relationships and meet life goals. She has executed communication strategies with payers, resulting in retention of clients for mental health providers; 30% above the industry standard. She has a passion to foster well-being in individuals, teams & organizations through effective change management strategies. Certified in Leadership & Management with a thorough understanding how management techniques impact human behavior, positively affecting employee engagement, productivity, & organizational bottom line earnings. She currently serves on the board of The Knoxville Association of Women Executives as President Elect/VP, in preparation of being the President in 2022. Her courses on resilience, motivating multi-generational teams and organizational culture are elective courses for The University of Tennessee Conferences & Non-Credit Programs Leadership Certification.

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