Mosaic Partnerships Program Update
(In 2001, Idea Connections developed the Mosaic Program in response to the City of Rochester New York’s call for a program to address its persistent racial polarization. Idea Connections is a for-profit organizational development firm specializing in innovation, creativity, corporate culture and inclusion and is the owner and implementer of the Mosaic Program. )
PURPOSE OF THE MOSAIC PROGRAM
Recent research indicates that the United States is currently suffering from the greatest segregation between the races in its history. This separation has a devastating impact on society and perpetuates itself by the misunderstandings and fear that it breeds. As a result, we are suffering from the many social and economic ills born from a society wracked with disunity.
The resolution of this most fundamental social problem requires an organic change—one that rests ultimately on the common recognition of the oneness of humankind. The purpose of the Mosaic Partnerships Program is to foster that recognition and to build unity as the foundation for social transformation. Such a transformation requires that the social and emotional distance that exists among the races be bridged by close association and fellowship. Strengthening the bonds that unite people of different races and ethnicities elevates communities to a higher degree of social capital - connectedness, trust, and mutual cooperation, etc. - enabling it to actualize the latent talents and skills embodied by all its citizenry and advance toward the full realization of its social and economic potential.
THE MOSAIC PROCESS
Because trust is the first step to create and sustain positive social change, building that trust through developing deeper relationships is at the heart of the Mosaic Partnerships Program. Mosaic participants are paired across race and/or ethnicity and guided through a one-year program that fosters the development of friendship and trust. To have the greatest and swiftest impact on a community, the Mosaic Program starts with natural opinion leaders in the community. The opinions and actions of this small percentage of influential members have a great influence on the rest of the population. When a sufficient number of people are influenced by them, a shift in common values occurs and cultural transformation begins.
The Program utilizes direct personal experience to promote learning and behavioral transformation. The Mosaic Program’s use of heart-to-heart exchanges is among the most powerful means to cause the questioning of unconscious, pre-conceived notions. The personal interactions between the Mosaic participants occur through partner-to-partner social meetings and through group discussion involving up to 10 partner-pairs. The group discussions center on race, ethnicity, and culture and are facilitated by Program Coaches who are trained by Idea Connections.
DEVELOPING HISTORY OF THE MOSAIC PROGRAM
In 2001, William A. Johnson, Mayor of Rochester, New York, initiated the Mosaic Partnerships Program (referred to as the “Biracial Partnerships for Community Progress” in Rochester) to address race relations challenges in Rochester. The Program initially paired 160 leaders of the community across race and/or ethnicity for an opportunity to develop a relationship with a person of a difference race. Two more classes of leaders have since experienced the Program, and a fourth year will include another 350 participants during 2005.
There have been many ripple effects on the community from the Program including: participants starting a business together; participants supporting the mayoral campaign of their Mosaic partner; participants adapting the Mosaic Partnerships model for use in their organizations to create better race relations and improve social capital; participants organizing and engaging in community improvement activities, etc.
One of the most intriguing ripple effects came to fruition recently. A participant in the third phase of the Program in Rochester, Mike Coniff, is the administrator of the Maplewood Neighborhood Empowerment Team office (a neighborhood in Rochester). Recognizing that the Mosaic Program works to strengthen race relations and build bridges between people, he decided to bring the Program to Maplewood to ease the growing racial tension it has been experiencing.
In October, Maplewood kicked off its version of the Program. The Maplewood Mosaic Program consists of two sub-programs: a Neighborhood Program that paired 20 neighborhood leaders across race, and a High School Program that paired 42 students - 21 from a predominantly African-American high school with 21 students from a predominantly white high school.
In other Mosaic Partnerships news, the City of Greensboro, North Carolina just completed the first year of the Mosaic Program. In November, the Greensboro Mosaic participants gathered in a sea of diversity to celebrate difference. The year ended in success - the measured outcomes include clear indications that relationships and trust were built and networks were opened at the leadership level across race and ethnicity. On average, the Mosaic participants reached a level of trust with their Mosaic Partner that is comparable to the level of trust that their Mosaic Partner has with his/her four closest friends; nearly 60 percent of the Mosaic participants shared their professional networks with their Mosaic partner; 65 percent shared their networks of friends; and 55 percent shared their families. Greensboro is now preparing for its second phase where another 180 leaders of the community will make the Mosaic journey in 2006.
For information on the Mosaic Partnerships Program, you can contact Dash Douglas, the Director of the Program for Idea Connections. He can be reached at 585-442-4110 x 3108.