Do you know how to BRIDGE THE GAP between people with lived experience and system influencers in your social change efforts?

Learn new ways to connect, amplify voices and draw on the strengths of those most impacted so that, together, you can address your community’s priority social problem.

Are isolation, divisiveness, and disengagement amplifying social problems in your community?

The success of any community change effort is deeply interconnected to supporting the voice, dignity and leadership of those most impacted by the social problem you are working on. Social change also requires an ability to foster collaboration between people with lived experience and champions within the systems that impact them. A successful social change strategy starts by building a robust culture of belonging.

Communities everywhere are impacted by increasing social isolation and inequalities.

The challenge of how to engage diversity and foster collaboration within the context of deepening disconnection and increasingly turbulent times remains at the main obstacle for many social change efforts.

For example, did you know that:

  • Gen Z (born 1995 to 2017) reports the highest sense of loneliness since the pandemic started?
  • Loneliness is impacting elders’ physical health resulting in a 50% increase in dementia and a 32% increase in strokes?
  • Many overdose deaths are directly related to increased social isolation and negative mental health impacts for those within at-risk communities?
  • “Tsunami turnover” of employees is expected to rise to over 50% within the next year?
  • Climate related disasters caused more internal displacement than conflict or war in previous years?
turbulant world - globe under pressure

We believe people with lived experience are the experts and key to creating new pathways for transformative change in our attitudes, behaviours, policies and systems.

After all, they know how they were “pushed out” and what values were eroded in the process. Yet, surprisingly the voice and leadership of those most impacted are often missing from social change efforts or are tokenized.

Is your social change effort missing...

  • The voice of those most impacted?
  • Diverse perspectives and experiences?
  • Scalable approaches funders can get behind?
  • Quality and diverse engagement?
  • Effective ways to share decision-making power between community members and systems influencers?
  • Pathways to build or strengthen relationships across community divides?
diversity - diverse hands holding puzzle pieces of building belonging together

If you’re struggling with facilitating social change, know that you are not alone.

Many social change leaders, organizations, and social-profit organizations are struggling, too. Those involved in social change efforts are finding long-drawn-out strategies without immediate results are irrelevant and a waste of time and money.

Communities are experiencing rapid and continuous change. Community problems are increasing and intensifying. And everyone is tired, including social change leaders. Issues that in the past were difficult, yet manageable, are now impacted and intensified by local, national and global crises.

When redesigning or building social change strategies, it is essential community initiatives are agile, responsive and immediate.

The good news is, we have solutions that can help.

Your social change effort can adopt an award-winning and proven roadmap with a track record of creating lasting community and system change that has reached over 2.5 million people around the world.

Belonging Matters Conversations For Communities

Customized, Facilitated Process Supporting People With Lived Experience

Belonging Matters Conversations For Communities focuses on collaborative problem-solving and results in high engagement and team-led solutions for lasting change.

If you’re tired of cookie-cutter facilitation, this won’t feel like another “off the shelf” flavour of the month process where community members are spoon fed. From start to finish, this program is designed and delivered around your community members’ specific and emerging priorities, strengths and needs.

community diversity and ideas

Every community is unique. Imposed programs or approaches and “one size fits all” strategies are not the way to go with social change.


That is why I created the Belonging Matters framework and have tested it with social change efforts such as communities dealing with the opioid crisis, seniors’ affordable housing, poverty, disability awareness campaigns and building bridges between Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities.

After facilitating this approach around the world with diverse cultures and social change initiatives, I can say with confidence that when community members are part of the process, they generate innovative solutions and are more committed to those solutions. Our proven method demonstrates this time and time again.

Supporting the voice, dignity and leadership of people with lived experience is where change really begins...

In this facilitated process with conversations about belonging and real community issues, people with lived experience build skills and confidence that empower them to be collaborative problem-solvers for transformative change.

Belonging Matters Conversations For Communities can be delivered live online, in-person, or a hybrid of both. Throughout the process, we create space for insights and ah-ha moments, laying the foundation for both personal and systems change with lasting results.

Belonging Matters Conversations For Communities - workbook

Hearing From People With Lived Experience

Luka Garvin shares how participating in Belonging Matters Conversations helped her discover her self-worth, build community and grow her attachment to life.

Talk to Jessie to learn how you can build a supportive community culture within your social change effort.


Bring Belonging Matters Conversations To YOUR Community

Book a call with Jessie to explore where to start and how Belonging Matters Conversations For Communities can be customized to help address your social change efforts, issues, needs and goals. For organizations and leaders who move forward, Jessie will work directly with you to create and communicate the process for Belonging Matters Conversations in your community.

Community Conversations: Quick Overview

Typically, Belonging Matters Conversations involve:

1

Initial Planning Meeting

Jessie and any key individuals who will be supporting your social change initiative and community will come together for an initial planning meeting.

2

Belonging Matters Conversations Series

We'll plan a series of 5 facilitated conversations with your community members with lived experience. Together, we’ll cover:

  • Why Belonging Matters
  • Addressing Our Priority Challenges
  • Building Our Supportive Network
  • Co-Creating Our Visual Legacy
  • Generating Ideas and Action Planning

To ensure high engagement, we offer an optional, yet highly recommended, “Art of Inviting” training on how to foster high engagement and convene participants for your Belonging Matters Conversations.

3

Collaborative Action Plan

We'll create a concrete, doable action plan with you that your team or group (alongside decision-makers and system influences) agrees to put into motion immediately to continue supporting the voice, dignity and leadership of those most impacted by the social problem you are working on.

The Benefits of Belonging Matters Conversations For Communities

Experience a fully customized, guided process

Jessie walks you and your social change team through the Belonging Matters Conversations process from start to finish. It is customized to your group and community’s structure, values and goals. There’s no guesswork or trying to figure it out on your own.

Build capacity

The costs of losing social change ambassadors and people with lived experience involved in your projects are high. The Belonging Matters Conversations process helps build group and leadership capacity and fosters retention for the social change initiative participants so they remain committed and engaged in the process. This also provides participants with personal growth experience where they gain the skills to be the change and work together to facilitate change.

Create lasting visual legacies

A visual legacy is co-created with the participants to synthesize key insights and commitments for ongoing reflection, awareness, learning and action. Groups choose a visual legacy medium (e.g. posters, videos, social media, etc.) based on their collective talents. This is a powerful tool to share back with funders, system leaders and community.

Avoid financial loss and enjoy cost savings

People issues, disconnection and group breakdowns can cause strife and contribute to increased mental health issues among the social change effort participants. These stresses can ultimately lead to both financial loss and dwindling support for the initiative. Together, we will help address these issues and ensure all those involved feel happier, healthier, and more engaged in the process of building a collaborative culture.

Support your community diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I) efforts

The Belonging Matters framework lends support to your organization's and community’s policies, procedures, team charters and the internalization of attitudes and behaviours. We prioritize fostering a respectful environment to welcome and collaborate with diverse community members and stakeholders.

Customize a reflective learning tool for your social change team

Working in collaboration with your social change group/team, we customize a reflective learning tool that will assist leaders and system influencers and your team to internalize agreed upon values and practices.

Contribute to participant and community wellness
Community conversations focused on building belonging can alleviate stress while also rebuilding or building trust and relationships, which ultimately impacts community members' levels of wellness, sense of agency and engagement.
“The secret sauce to fostering collaboration that generates innovation and unleashes collective strengths is starting with building a robust culture of belonging.” 

~ Jessie Sutherland

Here’s what people are saying about Jessie’s work and Belonging Matters Conversations

Learn how Patrick Aleck feels more confident with making change and shifting minds.

John Puff
Aboriginal Front Door, Belonging Matters Conversations Participant

I highly recommend these dialogues…

I highly recommend these dialogues as it brings out locked in anger and when released gives a feeling of wellness and understanding.

Honourable Senator Roméo Dallaire
Former UN Force Commander, Former Senate Member

This is exactly what has to happen.

That concept of finding that home, that serenity, that reference point from which you can build your hope and can in fact provide future generations with an ability to do more is absolutely essential.

Amanda Brown
RSW, Director, ReAct Adult Protection Program, West Vancouver Community Health Centre

As a society, we need to shift from a reactive mode to a prevention mode like what Belonging Matters provides.

As a society, we need to shift from a reactive mode to a prevention mode like what Belonging Matters Conversations provides. The more that we hear the voices of people impacted the most, the more respectful the process and the better the outcomes.

We need to support grassroots and community empowerment processes to achieve prevention and real change.

Your Belonging Matters Conversations For Communities Customized Program Includes:

Detailed Overview

community planning
Part 1: Initial Planning Meeting

We start with an initial planning meeting to review your customized Belonging Matters Conversations program and ensure all the supports are in place for lasting success.

During this time, we’ll discuss the program, roles, responsibilities and timelines as well as conduct an inventory of support within your community that your social change team can access.

community conversations
Part 2: Belonging Matters Conversations Series

Session #1: Why Belonging Matters

In this session, the social change working group/team explores what belonging means, shares stories and discusses their key challenges. By the end of this session, the group will have prioritized their key challenges in preparation for Session #2. This first session is engaging, interactive and encourages high participation in identifying issues the group can work on collaboratively.

Session #2: Addressing Our Priority Challenges

We customize Session #2 based on the priority challenge identified in Session #1. Here, the group will explore their priority challenge through the sharing of stories, exploring root causes and coming up with their own tips and strategies.

Session #3: Building Our Supportive Network


Next, your social change team will learn about organizational and community resources they can access to address their priority challenge as well as build their own supportive network as individuals and a team.

Session #4: Co-Creating Our Visual Legacy

Here, your group or team will review and finalize a visual legacy that represents their journey, the process and the key insights they generated during the previous three sessions.

Session #5: Generating Ideas and Action Planning

In this conversation, the group generates ideas for action planning and comes to a consensus on how they will move forward together to build or strengthen a culture of belonging and facilitate community change.

community action plan
Part 3: Collaborative Action Plan

Your plan will include recommended next steps to foster collaboration between those most impacted by the social problem you are working on in partnership with decision-makers and system influences.  

Senior leadership support of desired outcomes is critical. With that in mind, Jessie will work with you to ensure your system influencers, senior leadership and the team have the information and tools to support the voice, dignity and leadership of the Belonging Matters Conversations participants. Working collaboratively, you’ll move the solutions forward, leveraging all your organizational strengths for transformative and lasting change.

Bonuses

Receive these gifts to help you build a culture of belonging in your community.

Bonus 1
6-Month Check-In (2-Hour Booster Session)

We will facilitate a 6-month check-in with you and your group to see how implementing agreements is going. Think of this call like a booster session. This opportunity reconnects your group to the lessons learned, solutions created and the action plan agreed upon by leadership and team. The booster session check-in supports solutions moving forward.

Booster Session
Bonus 2
Culture of Belonging Reflective Learning Instrument

You will access a culture of belonging reflective learning instrument to help you focus your social change efforts for greatest impact.

Culture of Belonging Reflective Learning Instrument
Bonus 3
Complimentary Copy of Jessie's Book

Your group will receive a copy of Jessie’s bestselling book, Worldview Skills: Transforming Conflict From The Inside Out for your library.

Jessie Sutherland's book synthesizes cutting-edge scholarly research from around the world on the most promising practices for transforming deep-rooted conflict into peaceful co-existence. You will read about real community change stories that illustrate the skills needed to engage diversity, build belonging across diversity, and generate innovative solutions for lasting change.

Worldview Skills: Transforming Conflict from the Inside Out by Jessie Sutherland

About Jessie Sutherland,
Director

An international speaker, trainer, and consultant, Jessie Sutherland works with organizations and communities to engage diversity, build belonging and ignite intercultural collaboration.


Recipient of BC Community Achievement Award (2023), her approach creates sustainable community change that effectively addresses complex social problems.

Jessie Sutherland - TEDx Speaker
Jessie Sutherland - 2023 Community Award - BC Achievement Foundation - seal
Jessie Sutherland - Director of Intercultural Strategies

Jessie’s work has been delivered in over eight languages and has taken her across Canada and around the world to support communities in their efforts to address challenging issues including workplace inclusion, poverty, homelessness, the overdose crisis, elder abuse, reconciliation, youth engagement and more. Many of her clients go on to win awards for their work in engaging diversity and fostering collaboration for sustainable and lasting change.

As founder of the organization Intercultural Strategies, Jessie helps leaders and groups build cultures of belonging to create change in an inclusive and positive way. She is the innovator of the award-winning Belonging Matters framework and community change model designed to change mindsets, deepen interconnections, impart greater social capital and build stronger communities.

Jessie holds a M.A in Dispute Resolution, is a TEDx speaker and author of the book, Worldview Skills: Transforming Conflict from the Inside Out.

Here’s what people are saying about Jessie Sutherland & her trainings...

Morgan Meloche
Registered Social Worker and Outreach Worker

...conversations that go deeper than simply brainstorming ideas and coming up with projects.

Belonging Matters helps to get straight to the heart of what is being discussed, no matter what the topic. It opens space to have truly participant-led conversations that go deeper than simply brainstorming ideas and coming up with projects.

Belonging Matters invites us all to reflect on what true belonging means and to experience a sense of belonging within the conversations that emerge, amongst all participants. It’s a transformative experience for facilitators and participants alike that create bonds of belonging.

Nabila Alibhai
Kenya

Jessie’s uncanny talent for teasing out self-realizations will undoubtedly transform your approach to resolving conflicts.

Engaging and energetic, Jessie Sutherland personalizes global challenges through enabling a true understanding of conflict transformation. I left her workshop with a greater understanding of how to bring about successful reconciliation at both the personal and political levels. Jessie’s uncanny talent for teasing out self-realizations will undoubtedly transform your approach to resolving conflicts.

Faith Magwood
Former chair of Aboriginal Neighbours and retired social worker

...she gives students the encouragement they need to “hang out” in the scary spaces between the paradigms…

Jessie Sutherland’s approach dissolves outdated paradigms regarding human conflict and misunderstanding. She offers hope for the development of a new and more useful paradigm, and she gives students the encouragement they need to “hang out” in the scary spaces between the paradigms, while the old one dissolves and the new one develops.


It is an amazing and exhilarating journey.

Fast Track Your Social Change Efforts With Proven Methods, Processes and Tools

Benefit from skill development that equips your group or team with transportable and transferable skills and tools they can use when other issues arise in your social change efforts. Participating community members will build and strengthen connections with each other and your organization.

Through the process of these conversations, community members share stories and generate increased trust and empathy, while also building bridges for a sense of agency and collaboration.

Belonging Matters Conversations for Communities can help you connect and engage the diversity you need to be successful, build a culture of belonging, and generate collaboration for transformative and lasting change.

The Benefits of Bringing Belonging Matters Conversations to Your Community or Project:

SUPPORT

Build a supportive leadership team comprised of people with lived experience.

COMMUNICATION

Close the communication and understanding gap between community, people with lived experience and system influencers.

uNDERSTANDING

Increase respect and mutual understanding.

Solutions

Generate actionable innovative ideas and solutions.

collaboration

Transform “people problems” into collaboration.

culture

Build a supportive culture in your community.

Belonging Matters Conversations For Communities

Nurture lasting results for your social change effort.

Belonging Matters Conversations make a difference.

Val MacDonald
Director, Seniors Services Society of BC

...open the inner voice to better understand what promotes quality of life.

What Belonging Matters Conversations do so remarkably is to open the inner voice to better understand what promotes quality of life.

I was touched by how simple, yet how profound responses were to topics such as isolation and safety.

Eliana Jimeno
International Peacebuilding Specialist

...it is a highly adaptable and responsive framework...

The Belonging Matters framework creates a process in which the indicators for belonging truly emerge from the needs and expectations of the group of people or individuals that work with the framework. In this sense, it is a highly adaptable and responsive framework that does not apply a "one size fits all" approach but walks people though the process of inquiring and finding its own parameters for belonging and its own pace for advancing in the process.

Chief Robert Joseph
Gwa wa Enuk First Nations, Reconciliation Ambassador

...builds a sense of belonging and inclusion for everyone…

Jessie Sutherland’s Belonging Matters framework is one of the best approaches I know of. It builds a sense of belonging and inclusion for everyone, laying the foundational building block for reconciliation on the political and economic levels.

Frequently Asked Questions

What does our social change working group need to do to prepare?

There is not much they will need to do. The process will be explained and facilitated by Jessie, and she will provide any information that is needed ahead of time and/or between sessions. There are no pre-reading or pre-session assignments.

What if people are hesitant to participate?

The process sets people up for success. Having Jessie (a highly skilled facilitator who is external to your team and organization) allows the opportunity for her to engage participants. We’ll work together so that your team has the information and skills to engage participation.

What if issues, conflict and disagreement come up during the conversations?

Diverse viewpoints are encouraged and explored. In doing so,  participants will have a greater understanding and compassion for each other. Oftentimes, when stories are shared, views soften and shift to build greater unity. 

How could the visual legacies that the participants create be used in our community?

You can use visual legacies as an awareness and educational tool for the working group, community or organization on issues important to them. Many participants find they provide a great summary and reminder of key insights to build their confidence when they make presentations or share their stories with the goal to create change.

Belonging Matters Conversations For Communities

Support the voice, dignity and leadership of people with lived experience to ignite lasting change.

Social Change Mentoring with Jessie Sutherland

Let’s Build A Culture of Belonging With Your Community Together!

This program is the result of more than 25 years of research and working with individuals, teams, and communities around the globe delivering training, facilitating processes and building cultures of belonging in groups. I continue to be inspired by the solutions that people create together when stories are shared, understanding is built and solutions are co-created.

It would be an honour to work with you, your team, and your community. I look forward to our call to learn more about your organization and where Belonging Matters Conversations For Communities could help support the work you are doing to facilitate lasting social change.

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