Join Us For The

2018 NW Diversity Learning Series

20th Anniversary Year!

Inclusion Provocateur: Bridging the Human Divides
ISDI Presents the 2018 Series Topics!

Native Americans: Undoing the Last Acceptable Racism

Presenters: Jay LaPlante and Barbara Aragon

November 14, 2018

Undoing the last acceptable racism. This statement exemplifies the complexities faced by Native people who are striving to retain their lifeways in the face of competing interests, constant challenges, and outright racism and violence. Native people exist in a paradoxical world, but meet their difficulties head on through their traditions and values. They pass on their teachings to their children through stories and ceremonies. This session will engage participants in some of the ways of Native people — rediscovering personal stories and ceremonies as a means to create change, undo what appears to be “acceptable” racism, and promote inclusion within the workplace.

Polarities and Resistance: Creating an Inclusive and Sustainable Approach to Change

Presenters: Lindsay Burr and Cherie Buckner-Webb

January 23, 2018

This session sets the strategic foundation for understanding and applying polarity theory to diversity and inclusion strategies. By looking at the current landscape of diverse perspectives, polarity theory can help illuminate how to understand and approach discussions and plan for sustainable change for individuals, companies and organizations, and communities.

Religious Dominance - Religious Pluralism: Understanding Un-Discussed Polarity

Presenter: Paul Kivel

March 14, 2018

Religion is one of the primary human divides. Rather than trying to understand other religions first, this session focuses on dominant Christianity, the impact it has had on the political, economic, and cultural systems of the United States, and how it manifests in our behaviors, beliefs, values, relationships, and workplaces.


What holidays are recognized in your workplace? What norms exclude or marginalize Muslims, Jews, atheists and other non-Christians? Are there key Christian concepts that shape the way people think and behave in embracing or distancing themselves from issues of diversity and multiculturalism? Are there Christian leaders, denominations or parachurch organizations that influence the way that equity issues are addressed in your community?


Just as hierarchies of race and gender in the workplace empower some, marginalize others, and lead to ineffectiveness, high turnover, tarnished interpersonal relationships, and destructive personal behavior, our religious hierarchy has major implications for our organizations as well. 


We have enshrined freedom of religion in our Constitution in the phrase “separation of church and state”(notice the use of the word “church”) but even that is under attack. How do we create organizations based on religious pluralism so that the wisdom, creativity and inspiration of non-Christian traditions is valued and honored and no one is disrespected, marginalized, or excluded from full participation?

Power and Privilege: Addressing Loss, Striving for Equity

Presenters: Cherie Buckner-Webb and Lindsay Burr

May 09, 2018

So often in the conversations of power and privilege, those with power (especially white men) are demonized and those without power are painted as helpless. The questions appear to be “Why won’t you give up power?” and “How can we breakdown privilege?” These questions can stall progress as they set up an either/or dynamic – EITHER the privileged group keeps power OR the minority group takes power.


Reframing this dialogue into one of polarities and integrating BOTH/AND thinking increases the ability to be an inclusion provocateur. Questions become:

• How can we both hold power to benefit our community?

• How can we both share power to benefit our community?

• How will we flag that one group is clutching their power and not sharing?

• How will we flag that we are over-sharing power in a way that is not helpful to the community?


These questions reframe the systemic dynamic and break down the individual barriers to discussing power and privilege while also shifting the systems in which power and privilege create disparity.


In this interactive session, participants will explore their own relationship to power, different approaches to talking about power and privilege, and practice using Polarity Thinking to support the goal of being an inclusion provocateur.

Free Speech, Hate Speech, Political Correctness: Struggling with Civility and Respect

Presenters: Michelle Diggles and Lindsay Burr

June 19, 2018

Polarities abound in the growing use of unfiltered language and communications in a variety of forms. Such communication fuels increasing tensions due to perceived disregard and disrespect for organizational protocols and practices, and inclusive behavior. This session will examine the polarities involved and how to frame communication that presents one’s point of view –as contrary to existing norms as it might be—in a way that is respectful for all.

Us and Them: Navigating the Multicultural Divides

Presenters: Barry Johnson, Peter Whitt and Elizabeth Welch

September 26, 2018

Getting beyond the duality of “us and them” is an important part of the bridging techniques when addressing polarities. This session will explore three of the most significant dualities testing American society and creeping into the workplace: Immigrants And American born, Rural And Urban, and Nationalism And Globalism. We will increase our ability to bridge these divides by exploring the perspectives that inform them. 

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