Diversifying Diversity

Inevitably, at any community event focused on catalyzing change or improving the quality of life within the community, "diversity" - and the lack thereof among the existing body of participants - is pointed out as a key ingredient in success - or failure. I found this to be true whether the group gathered numbers five or 50, and whether the participants know each other or are new to one another. "Diversity," as I hear it used in these instances, refers pretty much exclusively to race, ethnicity and gender. Occasionally, age and economic status are included.

Acknowledging the essential role that these kinds of diversity play in community building and collaboration, other means of identifying and cultivating diversity may have an equally important place. Indeed, diversities are like dimensions - they exists in multitudes, yet at any given moment, we typically 'see' only a few. In addition to those mentioned above, a few lenses of diversity that come readily to my mind and seem important to a communities self awareness and ability to transform include: kinds of intelligence, family size, work/job experiences, time lived in the community and places traveled to outside the community. Granted that on a national or global scale, these measures of diversity may not cut as deep into what makes a person who they are, I believe at the level of local communities, measures such as these provide context and information that can be every bit as critical to catalyzing change.