Toward a More Perfect Union
in an Age of Diversity

Tips for Multicultural Organizing

by Marcelle E. DuPraw, National Institute for Dispute Resolution
for A MORE PERFECT UNION, a project of Arcadia Pictures

© Copyright Topsfield Foundation and Marci Reaven 1997

Whatever the scope of your study circle program, keep in mind the next five suggestions, offered by Marcelle E. DuPraw of the National Institute for Dispute Resolution:

  1. Model effective multi-cultural relationships. In putting on multicultural initiatives, it is particularly important to assemble a multicultural team. This help build trust that you are committed to "walking the talk."

  2. Plan to invest significantly more upfront time in outreach and follow-up to build trust. Tap into networks (yours and others'), and use word-of-mouth and personal references to enhance your credibility. Personal contact is important. Ask if you can go to meetings of existing groups -- church groups, civic associations, coalitions, wherever people meet. Get on their agenda for a few minutes, and make a personal invitation. Then follow up formal invitations with personal phone calls.

  3. Invite input from a representative group of participants, if not all of them, into the design of any event. Use their input in noticeable ways, so that they can see their "fingerprints" on it.

  4. Find out if anyone needs special support to participate effectively. In any invitations or follow-up conversations ask if translators, translated materials, large print or audio versions of the materials are needed.

  5. Hold events in mutually acceptable locations. Organizers should go to the community to hold events, rather than expect the community to come to them. Some locations will implicitly reinforce power disparities. For example, if a meeting focuses on policy/community tensions, you would not want to hold it at the police station. Attend to access issues for those with disabilities. Oftentimes, an informal environment will help people relax and get to know one another more easily.

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© Copyright Topsfield Foundation and Marci Reaven 1997