Monday, May 25, 2015

"Our Minnesota" Cascading Conversations Tour 2014 Analysis: Theme 4 of 6

In honor of our sixth anniversary celebration, Minnesota Rising is excited to release the initial six findings from the "Our Minnesota" Cascading Conversations Tour! Watch the blog in the coming days to learn about how this group of emerging leaders views and does leadership in Minnesota. You can read more about the report methodology and participant profiles in the first post of this series. And as the name implies, we are looking to continue cascading these conversations across the state this summer - and invite you to join us. Let us know if you'd like to be invited to participate in a conversation and/or join our Advance Team and help host 3 to 5 conversations this summer!

Theme 4 of 6: Emerging Leaders place high value on welcoming and valuing difference in order to strengthen and connect communities in a rapidly diversifying Minnesota

Emerging leaders referenced throughout their conversations their awareness that Minnesota continues to diversify rapidly, most commonly citing ethnicity, race, and sexual orientation. “Our communities are only becoming more diverse, which is just a wonderful treasure. Lately, I've heard RT Rybak talk about closing the achievement gap in the sense of not just closing the gap but also elevating the population. Our global populations are an asset, not just a gap to close. There's no way we'll be able to do this without having the really hard race conversation. Minnesotans and many Americans are scared to have this conversation and we need to get over the hard stuff to start trusting each other.” 

Beyond the inherent need to care for each other, participants repeatedly stated that embracing whole people – their identities, beliefs, perspectives, talents, knowledge, histories – will ensure Minnesotans and their communities will thrive into the future. They desired inclusive communities that value individuals and groups leveraging what make them distinct while actively bringing groups to a common table. “[We need to] represent values and voices of community, support others but not disappear.” 

Participants in the second round, which contained a greater diversity of voices in terms of race and ethnicity, added that creating this condition may entail adapting our existing power structure to engage and actively support voices and experiences that are not traditionally dominant. Specifically, emerging leaders need to create and sustain spaces for people to feel comfortable and emboldened to actualize their identity fully. “My children are Muslim but look white and it’s their religious views that get called into question a lot. By the time my grandchildren are born, I hope Islam in Minnesota is normalized enough that it doesn’t overshadow their own identities.”

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