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With people from nearly 100 countries living there, Astoria (in Queens, NY) is one of the most diverse neighborhoods in the world.  Contrary to what many people may suppose, all of these differences in close proximity do not inevitably lead to clashes but sometimes help teach people to be more accommodating of others.

Being different from one another should not — but often does– evoke anxiety and fear.  It helps to remember that diversity (meaning, simply, “differences”) is what MAKES us similar.  Whatever demographics tell us, individuals are neither identical to one another nor to any groups they belong to.

Such a vision of diversity lends itself to inclusive practices, in which we don’t minimize differences because we are afraid of them or of other people, but instead we invite people to authentically express their differences without shame or stigma.

In workplaces and neighborhoods, we need social contracts based on dialogue about ways in which my expression might impinge upon your well-being, but we needn’t eliminate differences in order to create productive and thriving communities.

Let’s see what we can learn from Astoria.

Listen to more on the story about Astoria at NPR.


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