Collaborative Spaces: One Step Between Exclusion and Belonging

collaborative space where diverse students are painting a mural on a wall
Image courtesy of Getty Images Pro

We need to begin envisioning and creating collaborative spaces for the work of justice, reconciliation, and healing.

I wrote yesterday about how we cannot skip from exclusion to belonging. And how we need to do the hard work of lament and confession before we even begin to think about the proactive work of healing.

But once we are in a posture of awareness and humility of the brokenness that we’ve participated in and suffered through, even then we cannot skip to belonging.

Creating Collaborative Spaces

Still, we can create opportunities for collaborative work across social divides that can open up possibilities for social healing.

My friend David Bailey introduced me to the idea of collaborative spaces, which are spaces where two diverse and divided groups of people gather with some common connection and in service of a common cause. These are neutral spaces—not owned by either group. These are spaces of shared power and shared possibility—not places of charity but of giving and receiving. These are spaces of creativity. 

Examples of Collaborative Spaces

A collaborative space could be a gathering of Christian musicians from across faith traditions and diverse ethnic/racial/denominational backgrounds coming together to serve the church by writing songs from the Psalms. 

A collaborative space is created when a group of white southerners and a group of Black southerners commit to gathering outside, neighborhood by neighborhood, in a small town to pray for each community in that town together. 

A collaborative space is created when kids from a school in the city and a school in the suburbs come together to create a mural or a community garden. 

Collaborative spaces are a hopeful step on the path from exclusion to belonging.


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