Be First

Be the first one to greet people and the first to ask questions. Acknowledging the presence of people is the first step to make others feel like they belong. If they feel like they belong, then it would be easier for them to create inroads for you to feel that same way. Small talk is important to help facilitate that. Be creative in the kind of typical small talk that you engage in.

—Lordy Rodriguez

Suspend Assumptions

We make assumptions about the world around us. For belonging work, we have to be able to suspend our assumptions and listen with an open mind, welcome with an open heart, and embrace with an open hand. We must critique the assumption within us.

—Alex Mabanta

Trust as a Default

Actively choose to trust others as a default. Believe in and practice the art of kindness. Be welcoming to new people. Connect with your values and find others who share these to bring about the place/spaces that you believe will inspire the world you want to belong in. Communicate, collaborate, and create with old friends while making new ones. Don’t allow physical distance to get in the way of being and remaining emotionally close to others not in your city.

—Eric Talbert

Any Place

If you carry a sense of belonging with you, you can turn any place into a site of belonging.

  1. Be nice.
  2. Don’t judge.
  3. Think about common good.
  4. Join forces.
  5. Recruit.
  6. Repeat.
  7. ???


A Reciprocal Activity

Belonging is a reciprocal activity. The more effort you make to engage a community, the more results and rewards come out of it. It’s like the scientific principle of energy never dissipates, just transform and transmuting into a variety of forms, shapes, colors, tones, …. It is not a passive equation, it is mediated on proactivity. The more effort you put into something, the more it reciprocally responds and reacts. Showing up, caring, making an effort is pretty much the first step towards and feeling of belonging.

—Kevin B. Chen

Things That Can Help

If you feel like you don’t belong (things that can help):

  • Smile at your neighbors.
  • Say hello to your neighbors.
  • Make eye contact.
  • Give things/share things with your neighbors.
  • Go to the same places that make you happy.
  • Go to different places with people you care about.
  • Listen to nostalgic music when you commute.
  • Do favorite activities from childhood.
  • Watch movies that make you feel at home.
  • Go to see music that reminds you of home.

—Alex Rodriguez

None of Us Are All-Knowing

Belonging includes getting to know your neighbor, turning off the TV, and refusing to believe the destructive narratives that divide and conquer us. Take a chance and engage in activities with others who don’t look like you. Don’t be afraid to grow to realize that none of us are all-knowing. As we continue to move around this earth, we have to communicate and believe in people. Know that all of us hold implicit and explicit biases. Accept your weakness and be willing to do the work to help us all feel like we can belong.

—Sasha Graham