By Marisa Asari
The first Global Learning Exchange for Building Equitable and Healthy Communities Workshop was held the week of September 11 to 15, 2017 at UC Berkeley's Institute of Urban and Regional Development. The workshop brought together community organizers and change agents from across the world, including international guests from India, South Africa, and Kenya, and Bay Area participants from Richmond and Oakland. The group spent the week getting to know one another, sharing challenges and approaches to community organizing, visiting Bay Area organizations and ongoing community change processes, and discussing opportunities to support each other's work.
The Global Learning Exchange focuses on sharing cross-cultural experiences and practices that promote equity and inclusion, aiming to build a network of practitioners and community members working to reduce health inequities in cities around the world. The exchange is an outgrowth of nine years of collaboration between Shack/Slum Dwellers International (SDI) and IURD Director Jason Corburn, that has focused on community engagement, data collection, and advocacy work in informal settlements across Nairobi.
The workshop was the first in a series of exchanges that seek to start a conversation on shared global challenges and opportunities for learning across U.S. and global communities. Participants visited Bay Area organizations including RYSE Youth Center, Pogo Park, Youth Uprising, City of Richmond Mayor and City Manager's Office, and the Richmond Office of Neighborhood Safety. Common themes emerged around youth organizing, community savings models, public space and park renovation, sustainable university-NGO partnerships, and government-community trust-building. The workshop resulted in the building of new relationships across diverse organizations and communities and ended with a conversation on how to develop shared platforms to support the growing network, long-term partnerships, and collaborative projects.
The website to the exchange can be found here, and a second global workshop will be held in the spring of 2018.