Creating belonging: it takes many tools to create a masterpiece.

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This issue pushed us out of our comfort zone while at the same time making the process easier; proximity can be a blessing. But we challenged ourselves to look beyond what we thought we knew about belonging in Waterloo Region as we embarked upon developing this issue. We wanted to explore this topic as a case-study about community building, and here's our take (and our takeaways) on Creating Belonging.

Key Takeaways

AS I WAS preparing the story on the YMCA, it struck me that the key lesson for environmentalists is to look at the role your organization currently plays in addressing the problem or situation, examine the role that needs to be played, and then determine if an adjustment and/or adaptation to your offerings are in order.

Public service or serving the greater good--in our case, working on behalf of the environment--requires a review of how you can best serve that greater good in what you do today AND tomorrow. Always make time to think about how you can best serve future needs while delivering today's services.

David McConnachie, publisher, on "Our Team" (pg. 56)

PAMELA ROJAS' experience with muralism in this region inspires me to be open to learning from other people's experiences in addition to my own. We like to think that we know best, but it's probable that there are better practices in action across the world.

It is important to strive for solutions that work for many categories of people, rather than the homogenous group. Alternative perspectives are so critical to success. These lessons would be valuable to employees in businesses of all sizes across many industries.

Often the best creations belong not to an individual, but to a community.

Selina Vesely, graphics assistant, on "The Power of Art" (pg. 70)

WHILE WRITING "Seeds of Change" I realized just how important it is for environmental groups to support diversity in their community. Canada is known for its multiculturalism, and with thousands of diverse groups it's easy to see how some may feel isolated. Encouraging everyone to be involved in the growing environmental community builds trust and strengthens the environmental movement.

Veronika Szostak, intern, on "Seeds of Change" (pg. 54)

COMPASSION, inclusion, justice dignity and hope--these are the core values of Waterloo Region's House of Friendship. The words offer superb guidance for engaging with anyone walking through the organization's door. The House of Friendship admirably works with the most marginalized...

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