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Holding Space for our Communities: Affinity Spaces

by | Jul 24, 2023 | Blog | 0 comments

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At Construct the Present, we have felt the tension of giving proper airtime to June’s cultural observances, Juneteenth and Pride. When our cultures are reduced to monthly observations that design our “content calendars” by default, it can be easy to lose the thread of why we celebrate cultural groups. 

Cultural observances like Black History Month are significant in acknowledging the history of those in our society that are not receiving justice or recognition. Months like BHM have inspired the tradition of monthly observances. These have value while also feeling performative. 

We have noticed the trend of DEI committees devoting a significant amount of time to creating content for cultural observances versus the deeper work it takes to interrupt oppressive systems. These are the systems that demand that once a year we acknowledge a group for its status as a non-dominant culture. Cultures and people continue to exist beyond their designated cultural observance month. 

In a month that is culturally significant to both Alexis and I (Liana), we find ourselves asking questions like: 

  • How do these months honor our values?
  • How do we honor cultural groups with purpose and intention?
  • How do we encourage our clients to do the same?
  • In what ways are we uplifting cultural groups to create a sense of belonging versus a sense of othering?

Affinity Spaces are one way we can address some of these questions.  During the month of June, we want to highlight the what and why of Affinity Spaces with a special highlight on Juneteenth and Pride. 

What are Affinity Spaces?

Affinity spaces are groups or spaces for people of the same social groups to be in community.

They often include:

  • Groups with shared interests or background
  • A supportive environment
  • A sense of belonging
  • Networking opportunities
  • Shared goals
  • Advocacy and empowerment
  • Learning and growth
  • Shared accountability

Why do you need affinity spaces at work?

We need psychological safety in the workplace to get our best work done. But affinity spaces are more than spaces to produce productive workers. People are not solely valued by what they produce. We are whole people with experiences that we bring everywhere we go. While retention is one result of having affinity spaces, it is only one factor of why they are important.

So why are they important?

  • Creates a sense of belonging. 
  • Celebrates diversity. 
  • Develops a culture of learning. 
  • Encourages people to advocate for themselves. 
  • Supports personal and professional growth.

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