Discussions on race, class and culture seek to help make Columbia a more inclusive community

Columbia residents are being asked to take part in a series of facilitated small-group discussions on the intersections of race, class and culture — sessions that will help people find common ground and learn from fellow community members who are different from them.

“Columbia was founded on the inclusion of all people. As we celebrate Columbia’s 50th year, it is vital that we provide a space for community members to intentionally engage with and listen to others different from ourselves,” said Jane Dembner, director of planning and community affairs for Columbia Association, which has helped organize the discussions as part of Columbia’s 50th Birthday celebration. “This exploration will help keep biases in check and also make us question assumptions we make about other community members.”

The goal of ColumbiaDialogues is to create a personal and collective commitment among participants to help make the community more inclusive.

“We want participants to nurture trust, explore our differences and recommit to inclusion as the way of life here in Columbia,” Dembner said. “This is important as Columbia is ever more diverse and needs now — more than ever — to work to make sure we remain an inclusive community.”

ColumbiaDialogues is the result of a collaborative partnership of representatives of faith-based, educational and civic organizations as part of Columbia’s 50th Birthday celebration. The Howard County Public School System’s Office of Cultural Proficiency is providing the trained facilitators for these dialogues.

Each small group will reflect the diversity of the Columbia community so that they can learn from each other. Sessions will begin this spring. Visit ColumbiaAssociation.org/columbiadialogues to learn how to participate. Space is limited. The deadline to apply is Tuesday, March 28. If interest exceeds capacity, CA may hold additional sessions in the future and/or encourage other organizations to sponsor similar sessions.

For more information, please email Jane.Dembner@ColumbiaAssociation.org.
About Columbia Association


Columbia Association (CA) is a nonprofit community services corporation that manages Columbia, Maryland, a planned community that is home to approximately 100,000 people and several thousand businesses. Additional information about CA is available at ColumbiaAssociation.org.

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