Join the Conversation ...Whatever It Takes!

Inspiring the Power of ONE in each of us
to energize the Power of ALL of Us!

"Join the Conversation" was a theme throughout our 2005-06 journey, Gay Into Straight America, as we encouraged people to engage in authentic conversations with one another.   Recalling the lives of individuals such as Helen Keller, Gandhi, King, Dorothy Day, Rosa Parks, Jesus, Nelson Mandela, Alice Paul, and many others reminds us of the impact one individual can make. Their understanding and use of the Power of ONE created a collective energy, allowing them to access and impact the power in others.  They utilized it to energize communities of people. This dynamic matrix created change in our world, and is available for us to access today.  

Our motto is, "Every journey begins with a bold move, and every bold move is a journey."  Similar to our Gay Into Straight America journey, this ongoing journey, Join the Conversation..Whatever It Takes, is a bold one.  What journey have you chosen to empower society by using your Power of One?

YOU, TOO, CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE! Make a commitment to do one thing today to help end "backyard bigotry," of any kind.  Lean in vs. defend, and build inclusive community and manifest equality and justice for all people in all area.  Please ask your friends to do the same. Host a Stand UP Speak OUT event.

We report on what it means to build an inclusive America by visiting cities participating in the League of Cities program, Building Inclusive Community. We  encourage cities along the way to become partners in that program.  America, however, is just the beginning. We are going to do Whatever It Takes to spread the idea of leaning in with love, and engaging with one another through authentic conversations, as we all learn together to transcend differences that separate us. 

We use "Pass the Camera," a technique we first learned about from Jennifer Fox through her movie, Flying...Confessions of a Free Woman.  This technique uses the camera in a way that mimics how deeper and more authentic conversations take place, maintaining the intimacy and presence that becomes the great equalizer. The removal of the camera from a third person position, either on a tripod or with a cameraperson, literally alters the dynamics in a positive way. No one person in the conversation has more power than the other.  This is very important in tapping into diverse views as we do Whatever It Takes to bridge the divide of polarization in many areas.  As we first said in our initial journey, You can't hate someone whose story you know!  This works both ways.  Removing the barrier that creates an "us and them" is magical and deepens human connections. We have these participation sessions wherever we go, and send the footage to our award winning filmmaker, Kathy Kiefer, also a cultural anthropologist, professional photographer, and writer. She edits them and posts on You Tube.

When we visit specific cities already partnered in the Building Inclusive Community program, we want to remind those participating cities that gays, lesbians, bisexuals, transgenders, and allies are a part of that inclusive community. No one is left out because of sexual orientation or gender identity. Beyond that, we want to engage in deeper conversations regarding how building an inclusive community offers options and opportunities for transcending (not eradicating) differences.  In other words, we want to dissolve and transcend differences that separate us, while retaining and celebrating the differences in each of us that create our uniqueness, weaving a stronger fabric of society.



Building an inclusive community is a fantastic program, with a partnership which includes 167 cities and towns in 40 states representing over 16.9 million peoople in the United States.  When we first read about the program in the USA Today, while we were on our Gay Into Straight America journey, there were 60+ cities signed up. Indeed, it is growing daily. 

On June 13, 2007, we received the following email from Jim Hunt, the Immediate Past President of the National League of Cities.  

Just read your latest update.  The Inclusive Communities Partnership now has over 170 cities with over 17 million citizens of population.  It is needed more than ever.

Keep up your great work.

Wishing you an Amazing Day!!!

Jim Hunt, Speaker and Consultant

If you missed the KGMI radio interview we did with Jim, click on the link.  You will find it there with our podcasts. Jim offers enormous insight about how the "Building inclusive community" program began and what it intends to do. After Jim's term as president, he created an organization, Amazing Cities, working for excellence in local governments.

How Citizens Can Become Involved in this League of Cities partnership:
If you are a resident of a city or town, and not an elected official, you can still become involved with the Partnership For Working Toward Inclusive Communities! How? Here is what you can do to support the Partnership:

    • If your city is not a partner already, provide your local elected officials with information about the program or point them towards the National League of Cities' website.
    • Volunteer to help your local elected officials in programs that promote inclusive communities.
    • Encourage your neighborhood to participate in events and meetings sponsored by your city or other groups to promote inclusive communities.
    • Be a role model by becoming a visible supporter, encouraging others to join your effort to act inclusively.
    • Read the Additional Resources and Guides to find more solutions for your city

Our intention is to speak and do podcasts with everyday people, as well as groups in government, religious institutions, corporations and schools/universities in these cities who are partnered with the League of Cities. Follow our Great American Roadcast spodcast series.  Click on icon to the left to listen.

On January 2, 2007, we hosted the Joe Teehan show on KGMI 790 AM in Bellingham, Washington.  Jim Hunt, recently completed his term as president of the League of Cities, was our guest.  Click on the podcast link for that interview. 

In our original letter to Jim Hunt, written before we knew we would be interviewing him (but not yet sent) one paragraph says,

In the PSA "Signs That Make Everyone Welcome," we noticed the "God Hates Fags" one, and were glad that you all realize that "inclusive" means that the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community also contributes to the power of "WE" and can make a difference.  Below is us in front of Fred Phelps' church in Topeka, Kansas.  His group has the website (which is where the sign comes from).  We wanted to visit his church and worship, but the doors are shut tight. 

Check out these Comcast PSA's below.  Very impressive! In our interview with Jim, we talked about the one called "Signs that Make Everyone Welcome." It communicates to us that the League of Cities program is inclusive of our gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community!  Jim confirmed this is true. He also admitted that "our inclusion" has been a stumbling block for some cities, but the League of Cities is not backing down.  We want to go meet folks and get their feedback!  In the PSA, signs such as White Power, KKK, and God Hates Fags scroll across the screen.  Words accompany these images, saying, “Signs…They can deliver powerful messages, but the message doesn’t have to be a harmful one…Open your eyes to the dangers of prejudice and make your community more inclusive.”  Then it shows people putting up signs that say, “Welcome…We are building an inclusive community,”  and the voice continues...“The message is simple.  Join hands with your neighbors and your city, and make everyone feel welcome…And Remember…The U.S. is all of us.” (This corresponds with the intention of our Great American Roadcast journey, which is to inspire the Power of ONE in each of us to impact the Power in ALL of Us!)

Click here to learn more about "We are building an inclusive community" program, and see how those of you, who are everyday American citizens, can make a difference by approaching your elected officials.  Or, if you are an elected official, visit the link to see how you can get have your city become a partner in this program.

We can be a part of changing our future!  If you haven't read the following book, consider it.  Not only can we create a tipping point for greater equality and justice for all people, we can use the power of "blink."

Blink: The Power of Thinking without Thinking, by Malcolm Gladwell  Blink is about the first two seconds of looking--the decisive glance that knows in an instant. Gladwell, the best-selling author of The Tipping Point, campaigns for snap judgments and mind reading with a gift for translating research into splendid storytelling. Through various stories, he persuades readers to think small and focus on the meaning of "thin slices" of behavior. The key is to rely on our "adaptive unconscious"--a 24/7 mental valet--that provides us with instant and sophisticated information to warn of danger, read a stranger, or react to a new idea.  Consider the possibility that we, as GLBT people, can affect how others "thin-slice" our community.  How? By being more open and accessible.  By living authentic lives.  We have the power to destroy the myths that people have perpetuated against us.  Our openess and willingness to be known will take away the negative "thin-slicing" of us into caricatures that society has often been taught, eventually replacing it with positive "thin-slicing" that translates into great acceptance, acknowledgement and celebration of our community.

Click here to order The Tipping Point or Blink by Malcolm Gladwell.