To foster the growth of a city, you have to focus on the people of that city. Milwaukee thrives when communities of people are supported, acknowledged and encouraged through inclusion, equality and understanding. The Cultural Commons Insight Series aims to promote these values by engaging in collaboration to improve Milwaukee and support the people who live here. Read on.
Take a second and recall the most recent story someone shared with you. Did you learn something new about them? Something new about yourself? Sometimes the most effective way to gain a new perspective is to listen to a story.
Cultural Commons events are often paired with a theme. Our most recent gathering was centered around the power of storytelling. With the help of Ex Fabula and P3 Development Group, community members were able to engage in rich, stimulating discussion. This discussion sparked conversation about privilege, personal bias, exclusion and racial disparities in Milwaukee on social, professional, generational and institutional levels.
Cultural Commons creates a space free of judgment — a space where positive discussion and feedback can thrive. Three Ex Fabula fellows (along with two other speakers) took to the stage and shared stories about times in their lives when they experienced exclusion based on race, identity, ability or superficial assumptions. Each storyteller expressed a time when exclusivity and segregation affected them personally.
Drawing from the stories shared on stage, community members in the audience were encouraged to participate in small group discussions. Each table had a discussion leader who helped facilitate and guide the conversations.
On a personal note: an experience shared by the second Ex Fabula storyteller resonated with me as an active listener. I shared details with my small group about a time when I witnessed generational racism in my family. I explained how it was a difficult concept to pinpoint and address, as these topics are sensitive, especially in a family setting.
I was met with positive feedback and similar stories from my table-mates. It was enlightening to recognize the parallels between my experiences and those of others. This is the power of storytelling: gathering perspectives that are different and similar to your own.
The morning event wrapped up with feedback from members — some of whom grabbed the microphone to share brief anecdotes. There was a call-to-action: take the conversations collected here and apply them to Milwaukee to better our communities. How can we support minority communities and address inequality? We must first acknowledge our own personal biases and become advocates for a stronger sense of inclusion on all societal levels. We can do this through storytelling and listening, and by empathizing with those around us.
Before departing, each community member was given a coupon from The Juice Kitchen, a Milwaukee business that is actively supporting its community through health and wellness.