Diversity is a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts, which include race, ethnic origin and colour, religion and creed, sexual orientation, age and ability, to name but a few. As ever evolving creatures in an ever changing world, the innumerable aspects of our humanity - all our ways of being, knowing and moving through the world - are contained in this one concept.
As human beings, we are revealed and make ourselves known to one another by infinite varieties of intelligence, language, race, values, politics, religion, national service, gender presentation, philosophy and a host of other elements common to humankind. The recognition of a common humanity is the first step in the celebration of our differences - differences that inform our cultures, our values, our minds, and all our ways of being in the world. Diversity is the chief informant of the creative life force and the central reality in our understanding and stewardship of it.
Here at Unity International Café Lunches, diversity is recognised as an essential binding agent of the interdisciplinary approach to education, as well as to the greater life experience. The phrase, "Think globally; act locally," has inspired our culture to better understand that the world is a multicultural society of which we are a part. The systems of the world - its governments, economies, religions and cultures - are increasingly dependent on interdependence. Differences become strengths in a collaborative effort. Collaboration is a path to peace.
All of this - and more - makes diversity something to celebrate more than once a year.
Diversity and Sustainability
Diversity, when applied in a human context, comprises the inclusion of a wide variety of cultures, ethnicities and groups, races, religious beliefs, socio-economic backgrounds, sexual orientation and gender identity. The diversity of life is made up not only of the wide realm of human cultures and languages, but also of the diverse world of plants and animal species, habitats and ecosystems. Therefore, a more sustainable world is one in which biological, cultural and linguistic diversity thrive through the strength of the system. It is upon the foundation of this diverse array of ecological and human cultures that a sustaining, resilient world is built.
While the Unity International Café Lunches conveys a message of sustainability through diversity, on-going greening initiatives of the organisation include:
· Recycling and composting food waste
· Product packaging minimisation effort (bulk vs. individual)
· Support local businesses
· Reuse of event material, decorations, etc from year to year
· Procurement of local food
· Paper minimisation effort through electronic distribution in advertising
· Vegetarian/food allergy sensitive food menu
Culture-led development strategies have direct and indirect impacts on social inclusion, social innovation and intercultural dialogue. Access to culture for all increases social cohesion at local level, but also strengthens considerably the sense of belonging to a city and local pride. Access to culture, including audience development, is also a key concern in cultural policies across Europe in order to bridge social disparities.
Access to culture as a means of social inclusion and intercultural dialogue
Culture can be a powerful instrument in promoting social inclusion and managing diversity. Initiatives designed to ensure effective access to and participation in cultural activities can have many positive impacts at local level. Cities are particularly well positioned to implement culture-related activities with a social objective/purpose. Culture is also a key to foster intercultural dialogue. Promoting intercultural dialogue provides a means to enjoy the richness of cultural diversity by fostering mutual understanding and establishing linkages between different cultures, communities and people.
Culture as a driver of civic participation
Culture is increasingly regarded as a tool to foster citizens’ participation in public life. The cultural and creative sector is permeated with values such as free exchange, critical thinking, personal development, solidarity, cooperation, networking, diversity and co-creation. Those values can spread from the cultural field through the society as a whole in many ways such as forms of community arts, workshops or voluntary programmes.
Social innovation through culture
By promoting citizens’ participation, forms of co-creation and involvement, culture can also be instrumental to social innovation by stimulating new forms of problem solving and innovative governance models to address societal challenges. Creativity, lateral thinking and imagination are particularly valuable in generating new ideas to solve societal issues through the creation of new products, services and models. Innovative participatory approaches have been experimented at local level as an opportunity to give new dynamism to cities’ plans by involving citizens in the decision-making process.
Each year the International Day of Peace is observed around the world on 21 September. The General Assembly has declared this as a day devoted to strengthening the ideals of peace, both within and among all nations and peoples.
A peaceful society is one where there is justice and equality for everyone. Peace will enable a sustainable environment to take shape and a sustainable environment will help promote peace.
The theme for the International Day of Peace in 2018 is “The Right to Peace - The Universal Declaration of Human Rights at 70”
The theme celebrates the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is a milestone document in the history of human rights. Drafted by representatives with different legal and cultural backgrounds from all regions of the world, the Declaration was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in Paris on 10 December 1948 as a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations.
The Universal Declaration – the most translated document in the world, available in more than 500 languages - is as relevant today as it was on the day that it was adopted.
In the lead up to the International Day of Peace on 21 September, we call upon all to take action.
Join with people around the world by observing the International Day of Peace!
People in cities, communities and villages worldwide have engaged in the International Day of Peace in diverse and meaningful ways. Consider gathering for a Global Feast for Peace, including foods from different cultures, or interfaith dialogue, or just gather to break bread.
Share your feasts with us on Facebook
The blending of foods has been appearing everywhere — from swanky restaurants to city roaming food trucks. But, how much of this “fusion food” is real, and how much of it is just dressed up fries?
Fusion food, at its core, is the blending of two or more cultures’ foods and styles to make something different and new. For instance, the noodles in our spaghetti were influenced by Chinese noodles.
Kimchi fries, although good, are not actually fusion. It’s fries ala Asian meat spices and kimchi. The culture around this one fusion-esque beacon is huge. Asian based food trucks and even some of the most authentic Asian restaurants sell this staple dish.
Most of the popular fusion foods are Asian-based. There is no market in Italian, Greek, Nigerian or Latin fusion food outside of dressing tacos with Asian condiments and meats.
Granted, this may be in part because other cultures are very protective of their foods. Some do not want outside forces or influences in their food because of the history and importance the food holds. That being said, if you are going to do fusion food, you still have to do it correctly.
People do it right all of the time without even thinking about it. It usually comes in the privacy of people’s own homes. Going back to spaghetti, some people put creole seasoned shrimp and crawfish into their dishes. Others might use a pot roast in a stir fry.
The concept of fusion food stems from curiosity, creativity and the love of other cultures. To create real fusion food there must first be open-mindedness. The next step is letting go and allowing yourself to learn from others so you can then implement that new-found knowledge.
After that, something truly new that is both fusion and still allows those two cultures to exist can be achieved.
Have you ever wondered what the food you eat everyday can tell you about where you come from? Have you ever wondered why people from different parts of the world eat different types of food? Do you ever ask yourself why certain foods or culinary traditions are so important to your culture? There is more of a connection between food and culture than you may think.
On an individual level, we grow up eating the food of our cultures. It becomes a part of who each of us are. Many of us associate food from our childhood with warm feelings and good memories and it ties us to our families, holding a special and personal value for us. Food from our family often becomes the comfort food we seek as adults in times of frustration and stress. When I was sick as a kid, I couldn’t eat rice because I was too weak, so my mother would cook soup and bring it to bed for me. The smell and taste of the soup became something very familiar to me. Now, whenever I feel tired or stressed, I remember the soup my Mum used to make for me and I feel hungry for that soup.
On a larger scale, food is an important part of culture. Traditional cuisine is passed down from one generation to the next. It also operates as an expression of cultural identity. Immigrants bring the food of their countries with them wherever they go and cooking traditional food is a way of preserving their culture when they move to new places.
Continuing to make food from their culture for family meals is a symbol of pride for their ethnicity and a means of coping with homesickness. Many open their own restaurants and serve traditional dishes. However, the food does not remain exactly the same. For example, some ingredients needed to make traditional dishes may not be readily available, so the taste and flavour can be different from the taste and flavour of the dishes that they would prepare in their home countries. Additionally, when immigrants sell food in another country, they do not only sell it to people from the same countries as them, but to people from different countries. Therefore, they have to alter the original dishes to cater to a wider range of customers with distinct tastes and flavour preferences. Alterations to original dishes can create new flavours that still retain the cultural significance of the dish.
What stays the same though is the extent to which each country or community’s unique cuisine can reflect its unique history, lifestyle, values, and beliefs.
In China, harmony is a vital trait in almost every aspect of life. This is reflected in Chinese cuisine, where almost every flavour (salty, spicy, sour, sweet, and bitter) is used in a balanced way creating delicious dishes with flavours that go well together. Historically, Chinese people have an ornate style, which can be seen in their architecture and costumes, as well as in their food. They believe that food not only needs to be nutritious but also needs to look appealing, so they put a lot of effort into decorating the dishes and making them look colourful, with vibrant red as their traditional colour.
The cuisine of the United States reflects its history. The European colonisation of the Americas yielded the introduction of European ingredients and cooking styles to the U.S. Later in the 20th century, the influx of immigrants from many foreign nations developed a rich diversity in food preparation throughout the country.
As the world becomes more globalised, it is easier to access cuisines from different cultures.
We should embrace our heritage through our culture’s food, but we should also become more informed about other cultures by trying their foods. It’s important to remember that each dish has a special place in the culture to which it belongs and is special to those who prepare it. Food is a portal into culture, and it should be treated as such.
I was asked to share my thoughts in writing to describe what inclusion means to me. These thoughts came from my own life experience and from the recent inspiration of discussing this topic in the past few weeks at home and work. So here goes…
Being different is not a choice. We often forget about this as we go through our day or our life until something happens that causes us to feel it. Being different can feel good and sometimes feel really bad. It all depends on whether we are accepted for this difference.
Think back at your earliest age when you understood what different meant, what it looked like, how it felt. If we today reflect for a minute, we are all very different, and have to remind ourselves of this. We can come from the same country, religion, gender, family and be different and have generalizations casted upon us and cast them upon others without deliberate thought. Further, we sometimes even cast them on ourselves and internalize them, the good and bad.
We go through life, like breathing seeing difference. It helps us navigate life. But like anything if not with consciousness it can lead to unintended consequences. We go through life often gravitating unconsciously and sometimes consciously to those like us. Why is it that? It provides great safety, sometimes ease, speed, a sense of belonging. This is part of being human. Also part of being human is Bias. It’s ever present and “unavoidable” and human. It affects our choices and behaviour. And, like any habit, we can set an intention and choose to see different and include.
Inclusion is not about avoiding diversity, difference or being agreeable. It’s not about “fluff” or being “soft” and going with the flow. It’s more about creating a space of safety for you and others to be seen, heard and accepted. Inclusion creates a space for difference to have its voice heard in our relationships, our family, community, at work, in the world. It’s actually about looking at difference with curiosity. Treating people not as you wanted to be treated but as they want to be treated and vice versa.
Exclusion on the other hand separates, it inhibits, limits, shuts down, sometimes oppresses, even suffocates. To be excluded is one of the top five fears that we as humans have. It instils fear by its very nature and can create tremendous anxiety and can lead to conflict. Exclusion is not just harmful to the person, it’s harmful to relationships, families, profit and non-profit organizations and societies. We lose out on who that person is and what that person who is different from us (be it their perspective, their idea, their culture, their age) has to offer. We lose out on what we can learn and on what they/we together can contribute, build, inspire and live.
Imagine a relationship, a family, a workplace, a community, a world if we included. It would be safe, peaceful, inspiring, fun and we would want to belong.
Diversity is the presence of difference. Inclusion is a choice. Inclusion gives everyone a voice.