Diversity Dialogue Initiative


Creating a Diverse & Inclusive Community

Upcoming Dialogue Opportunities

Date/Time Description
Tuesdays & Thursdays, 1:00 pm
Langston-Brown Community Center
2121 Culpeper Street
Arlington, VA 22207 (map)
 English / Spanish Dialogue. Here's a fun opportunity to meet people, learn a little vocabulary and help someone else learn. Talk about a favorite topic, tell a story, or discuss a current event. People are meeting for conversation every week.  Great for learning Spanish or English.
Wednesdays, 1-2:30pm
Langston-Brown Community Center
2121 Culpeper Street
Arlington, VA 22207 (map)
 French Conversation. Practice your French and exercise your mental muscles in the process.  This friendly group of people with advanced knowledge of the language will welcome you to weekly dialogues.  These stimulating and sociable gatherings provide a chance to participate in lively discussions in French on topics that are easy to discuss and of interest to all.
Thursdays 1:00 pm
Walter Reed Community Center
2909 S. 16th St. Arlington (map)

Ongoing Connections Cafés. Discover opportunities for volunteer service, learning, recreation and social connections. Please call the Walter Reed Senior Center at 703-228-0955.
Date: TBD
Drew Model School/Community Center (map)
3500 S. 23rd Street, Arlington 22206
 Nauck United Diversity Dialogues. Nauck United, the Bonder & Amanda Johnson Community Development Corporation (BAJCDC), Nauck Civic Association and the Shirlington Education and Employment Center (SEEC) are partnering in presenting the 4th conversation in the Nauck Diversity Dialogue series. All Nauck residents, organizations, business representatives and community leaders are encouraged to attend to add your voice to the vision of a united Nauck community which values all of its residents. For more information, contact nauckunited (at) yahoo.com or call 703-389-3432.

Host your own Diversity Dialogues!

The County Board voted unanimously to refer the Diversity Dialogue Task Force report (PDF) to the County Manager to recommend policy changes and other implementing actions that may be appropriate for consideration by the County, community groups and individuals. Read the 16 recommendations (PDF).

A special Tell Arlington's Story program took place at Arlington Central Library last March. Third and fourth generation African-American Arlingtonians shared their family history and their personal stories. Storytellers included Patti Monroe Meek, sister of the late Charles Monroe, Kline Price, Mattie Walker, and Kenny James. They talked about their family history and how their identity evolved as a result of the integration process in the Arlington Public Schools system, and what life is like now. The program included opportunities for audience members to share their own story. Co-sponsored by the Arlington Association of University Women (AAUW). Download Tell Arlington Stories Across Generations flyer (252 KB PDF).

Let's Talk Housing: A Dialogue on Affordable Housing Tools. Community members and national experts in the field of housing came together on March 19 to explore implementation tools that could be utilized to create or preserve affordable housing along Columbia Pike, in a context of improved transit options, mixed uses and incomes, and high-quality urban design, all of which contribute to a high quality of life. For more information, visit www.arlingtonva.us and type "Land Use and Housing Study" in the search bar.

The Arlington Committee of 100 and Macedonia Baptist Church co-sponsored joint Diversity Dialogues on May 13, 2009 in which 120 community members from north and south Arlington came together to engage in café-style conversations and explored how organizations and individuals can implement the Diversity Dialogue Task Force recommendations. Gracious greeters and a delicious meal catered by Bear Rock Cafe made for a very successful follow-up event.

Gunston Middle School hosted Diversity Dialogues on the Elimination of the Achievement Gap on February 5, 2009. The school's Activities Director, who served as a Table Host at the County's Diversity Dialogues, brought the entire faculty and administrative staff together for café conversations on how to eliminate the achievement gap among students. It was so well received that participants requested it become a regular event!

Our Lady Queen of Peace Catholic Church hosted diversity dialogues on April 27, 2009 both as a follow-up to their Stone Soup Dialogue Series and the Diversity Dialogue initiative. Engaging conversations took place among parishioners and others to explore how to make the church a more diverse and inclusive place to worship. This was a closed group discussion on diversity within the parish. OLQP has taken the Diversity Dialogue idea and is using it internally on a regular basis and encourages other groups (especially faith communities) to do the same. We are proud to help cultivate an openness to dialogue that can expand to neighborhood or inter-faith dialogues.

Diversity DialoguesNauck Diversity Dialogues! Community members in South Arlington engage in meaningful conversations

The first Nauck Dialogue/World Café took place at the Macedonia Baptist Church Family Life Center on August 1, 2010 as part of Nauck's Summer in the Park Festival, organized by the Bonder & Amanda Johnson Community Development Corporation (BAJCDC), with the support of the Nauck Civic Association, Macedonia Baptist Church, Martin Luther King Center, and the Shirlington Education and Employment Center (SEEC). This dialogue brought together diverse community members and awakened the desire for follow-up conversations in Nauck. 

About 25 neighbors and friends of the Nauck community gathered on  October 2, 2010 for the second Nauck Community Diversity Dialogues, which took place at The Shelton Apartments Community Room. The group, which was itself diverse, agreed that more conversations, with the goal of learning from each other and each others' cultures would be a good idea. Participants also identified key issues for moving Nauck forward: including greater economic and job opportunities, support of those in financial need, and increased services such as restaurants, teen programming and parenting, and access to health care.  The underlying sentiment of the group was a call for action, using these conversations as a spring board to come up with concrete plans and ways to move forward.  By the end of the session, several people came forward with the beginnings of proposals based on synergistic relationships that would address some of the concerns around these issues.  

The dialogue series continued on March 18, 2011 at Drew Model School.  Nauck United took the lead to host a vibrant meeting of voices from the nauck community. Stay tuned for the next one!

Community Energy Plan Town Hall Meeting

On October 21, 2010 the public was invited to join Arlington County Board Chairman Jay Fisette and members of the County's Energy Plan Technical Working Group to a community dialogue on Arlington's energy future. This was the second of two community dialogues in 2010 to give Arlingtonians a chance to share their thoughts on energy challenges and opportunities in our community. For more information, contact Kelly Zonderwyk 703-228-4822.

Let's Talk! Fellow Arlingtonians engage in follow-up Diversity Dialogue conversations!

This small-scale conversation project was designed to bring community members together through the sharing of personal stories over a series of get-togethers. Through the power of story, people listened to one another and created deeper connections with people different from themselves, yet discovered just how much they have in common. It took place February 27 - April 17, 2010. This project was undertaken in partnership with the Community Volunteer Network and George Mason University's Institute for Conflict Analysis and Resolution. For further community conversation opportunities, check the County's Diversity Dialogue web page or call (703) 228-0751.

Teen Dialogue on Gang Prevention: Soccer Tournament and Town Meeting

On June 19, 2010, about 120 youth ages 13-18 participated in a soccer tournament, competed for a grand prize, as well as explored family, school and community resources to help them stay on track to reach their goals! These courageous teens shared what they see and what they need, with the help of volunteer table hosts and one another. Sponsored by the  Arlington County Gang Task Force.

Community Organizing Meets Civic Engagement: From Advocacy to Action

The Arlington Committee of 100 extended a special invitation to the Latino community on May 12, 2010 to share the Committee of 100 experience. Over 80 community members gathered at Barrett Elementary School, enjoying an exciting line up of panelists and a delicious dinner catered by Guajillo's Mexican restaurant in Rosslyn!

Latino Graduation Café

The Arlington Latino Network brought together members of the Latino community and Arlington Public School staff in a café-like conversation to discuss their collaborative work to improve Latino student achievement by identifying actionable steps to increase high school graduation and enrollment in post-secondary education. There was a warm and inviting environment at the Career Center on May 15, 2010 which produced positive results (883 KB PDF). 

Telling Stories: A History of Diversity in Arlington 

The Arlington Branch, American Association of University Women (AAUW) and the Arlington Public Library, Shirlington Branch held a wonderful program on April 13, 2010. Participants were immersed into the varied history that is Arlington, where the public was invited to "Telling Stories: A History of Diversity in Arlington through the Personal Stories of Arlingtonians Who Are African, African-American, Latino, Asian, and White." Facilitators Andi Cullins and Marty Swaim introduced the session with an opportunity for all participants to think about their own story. Community members listened to Janet Phoenix, and three others, including a Latino, Asian, and White Arlingtonian all share their stories.

Find out how you or your organization can do its part to help implement our community's diversity recommendations!  Contact Dulce Carrillo at 703-228-0751.

View the action in the first Diversity Dialogue!

Hear Kojo Nnamdi at the third Diversity Dialogue!

Read the Diversity Dialogue Task Force Report!

Background on Arlington County's Diversity Dialogues

On January 1, 2008, the Chairman of the County Board, Walter Tejada, outlined a three-pronged Agenda for Progress: Health; Affordable Housing and Inclusion. As part of the agenda for Inclusion, he proposed the County host a series of Diversity Dialogues based on the World Café approach. The County Board appointed a Task Force comprised of 12 active, knowledgeable and diverse community members to plan and execute the Diversity Dialogues.

Hundreds of Arlingtonians gathered on three occasions at three different locations around Arlington County to participate in these community dialogues on diversity-related issues. The atmosphere at the three events was simply invigorating! The experience, as expressed by the participants, was inspiring and added incredible value to the feeling of a larger, caring community.

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Feedback from one participant captures the experience of many: “I want to express how meaningful this dialogue was to me. I learned so much about very complex and heart-felt issues in a very short period. The quality of exchange was remarkably high as well as intimate. Please continue the conversation and let me know if there is any way I can help.”

The Task Force presented the Diversity Dialogue Report to the Arlington County Board on January 24, 2009. However, words cannot accurately express the experience of conversing with people different than you, listening with intent, learning from each other's stories, and feeling empowered to create an even better community.

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The Dialogues uncovered that Arlingtonians want actions, such as:

  • Mindful leadership to strategically support Arlington's diverse heritage and community
  • More dialogue opportunities
  • More opportunities to learn English and other languages
  • Strategic programming by County and community groups to connect residents and better inform people about events and resources that enhance dialogue and connections

Among concerns expressed include the need to educate Arlingtonians about our rich history; the need for more affordable housing in the County; and a persistent North/South divide.

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The County Board voted unanimously to refer the Diversity Dialogue Task Force report to the County Manager to recommend policy changes and other implementing actions that may be appropriate for consideration by the County, community groups and individuals.

Already numerous organizations and community groups have hosted community conversations and are interested in continuing dialogue, such as the Arlington Committee of 100, Arlington Latino Network, Arlington Public Schools, Bonder and Amanda Johnson CDC, Community Volunteer Network, Macedonia Baptist Church, Nauck Civic Association, Nauck United, Our Lady Queen of Peace Catholic Church, and the Shirlington Employment and Education Center.

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About Diversity Dialogues

The Diversity Dialogue Initiative was created by Arlington County Board Chairman J. Walter Tejada (2008) with the aim to build bridges across different cultures, ethnicities, age groups, economic backgrounds etc., to take positive steps to better meet the needs of all Arlingtonians.

The County Board appointed members of the Diversity Dialogue Task Force, which spearheaded Chairman Tejada’s Diversity Dialogue Initiative. The task force played a key role in structuring three dialogues that took place in north, central and south Arlington. The task force members participated in the sessions and made observations and recommendations to the County Board at the conclusion of the first Diversity Dialogue series.

The Diversity Dialogues are part of a three-pronged Agenda for Progress announced by Chairman Tejada in January 2008 that focused on inclusion, health and affordable housing.

World Café Approach

The Diversity Dialogues were modeled after the ‘world café’ approach we have used to reach out to the community on other issues. It offered an opportunity to get a wide range of input and to hear the distinct voices of our community.

The World Café model is an innovative process for hosting conversations about questions that matter. The conversations link and build on each other as people move between groups, cross-pollinate ideas and discover new insights into the questions or issues that are most important in their life, work, or community. More about the World Café!


Last Modified: March 04, 2014
2100 Clarendon Blvd. Arlington, VA 22201 Tel: 703-228-3000 TTY: 703-228-4611