Oftentimes when hosting an event, people naturally reach out to the people that we are comfortable with, and in most cases our “Circle of Comfort” looks, thinks, and believes just like us. Often times, events end up being echo chambers, collecting and reinforcing a narrow demographic, world view, and belief structure. Understanding & addressing this systemic trap can make the difference between the enhancement or stunting of an organization. TEDx Grand Rapids has made it a strategic priority to step outside of this “Circle of Comfort” because we believe that this city can Grow in thought when we begin to venture out of our comfort zones.
As an African American male, passionately active in my community, when I walk into the room at a conference and see a lot of energetic and excited people, it should make someone feel energized and excited as well…right? Wrong. When the room is filled with people that don’t look like you or speak your first language, the first emotion that you feel is not always excitement. My first question is “Who was in charge of the invite list?”.
If we want to get the best of people. If we want them to contribute, create, innovate, and inspire – it is critical that we are taking steps to make everyone welcome & comfortable.
This is why the work of the TEDxGrandRapids Diversity & Inclusion Committee is so critical. The work of this committee touches every other planning committee by giving them a lens through which to analyze their strategy & decision making.
For the 2019 TEDx Grand Rapids we have decided to focus these key areas:
Using this as an integrated framework for planning, requires that we step out of our comfort zones and into an area where our world view can be adjusted by the thoughts of others. This means that when selecting applications, accepting attendee applications, choosing sponsors, and selecting vendors we have to be intentional about our decision making and honest about the limitations of our own experience. This is not an easy task but it is one that the TEDx Grand Rapids Planning Team has committed to.
For each committee we ask the following questions:
What are the representation goals of this committee?
How will you implement a plan to ensure areas that need representation for this committee are being covered?
Where are you looking for representation in?
Are your committees goals and plans usable for future TEDx’s?
TEDx has the Big Hairy Audacious Goal (BHAG) of changing the way that information & creativity flow through and impact a community. In order for this to happen, thoughtful attention to Diversity & Inclusion is essential. Imagine the dialogue, conversation, & creativity that can be inspired when we get many voices & experiences into one space. That is something to be excited about.
About the Author:
Dwight Hudson the Diversity Committee chair for TEDx Grand Rapids. Originally from Charleston, SC, he and moved to Grand Rapids in 2012. “I have seen this city GRow a lot since I have been here and I am excited to see how it continues.”