Building Pathways: Community Dialogue Series

[ Building Pathways to Understanding ] is a virtual community dialogue series that makes space for people from different communities to share and reflect on the way they experience different issues in an accessible way. We hope to unpack the beliefs and values behind our decisions and to examine the stories we tell ourselves about the way community life “has to be.” Come share and your experiences. Everyone is an expert in their own lives. The only requirement to participate is a commitment to listen.

This month, we’ll be talking about [ HEALTH ]SIGN-UP below!

Up to 10 different people will be selected to speak during each dialogue, though people can tune in just to listen. We aim to have a diverse group of participants so that each dialogue will include different experiences. For the time being, the dialogues will be hosted virtually through Zoom.

Check out the [ SPRING 2021 Calendar ] for dates & topics.

Building Pathways makes space for people to learn about other peoples’ experiences and to engage meaningfully with people outside of their own communities. It creates opportunity for people to talk and learn about the issues we’re all dealing with so that we can be better neighbors, voters, decision-makers, and leaders wherever we are in life — whether that’s at our jobs or just out in the neighborhood.

About the Facilitator

Melody Ng:Hi all — Over the last 10 years, I’ve worked with nonprofits and research centers on issues spanning from food systems to criminal legal reform, with a personal emphasis on equity in decision-making and outcomes. For a long time, I’ve felt that we need to be having more honest conversations about the beliefs at the heart of our opinions on and decisions about public policies — which is why I’m partnering with APADRC to bring you Building Pathways to Understanding. Welcome! I hope to hear from you soon.

Read more about Melody HERE or on LinkedIn.

NEWS: In Case You Missed It


All notes are posted here in the hopes that what was shared between people in the room will spark reflection and conversations outside of it.

We talked about how we’ve been taught to tie our worth as human beings to our wages, to believe having certain “good jobs” makes a person better than those with “bad jobs” (often in the service industry), and that there have to be people earning not enough in order for some others to earn a lot, how the American Dream has become unattainable for many because the cost of living outpaces wages, and how we’ve normalized the extreme struggle to meet our basic needs.

Check out the notes HERE.

We talked about how the “right to land” through ownership is not meaningful for most people in practice without inherited wealth, how the right to land is equivalent to the right to shelter for some, how land is oftentimes privatized in ways that prevent it from being used in an efficient, healthy, or sustainable way for communities, how property rights to land may not actually guarantee housing for the next generation, and how zoning practices may impair social mobility.

Check out the notes HERE.

We talked about how our environments impact how we care for our bodies and our expectations for our “health”, the need for “space” and the ability to move freely in that space to feel healthy, why some disenfranchised communities feel so disconnected from the environmental and climate movements, why we’re more inclined to call some disasters “natural”, and what the aftermath of “natural disasters” in some communities reveals about how people contribute to them.

Check out the notes HERE.

Last week, we talked about how racial bias impacts the quality of food offered by food banks in communities of color, why more retail food waste can’t be redirected to the hungry, and why both healthy and second rate (old or imperfect) food is often sold at such a high mark up. We also brought up potential solutions, like community fridges and crop-swapping and food sharing networks — that could promote food security on a neighbor-to-neighbor level — and reducing legal liability for retailers to redirect more (viable) food waste to people.

Check out the notes HERE.

We talked about how “doing good” can sometimes feel bad, how relationships with the people you intend to help can be necessary to effectively help them, why getting consent is necessary to “do good”, how power imbalances can impact someone’s willingness to be helped, and how people who need help still want their autonomy and dignity to be respected.

Check out the notes HERE.

We talked about the difference between “prosperous” and “thriving” communities, why prosperity needs to be reimagined with other human needs in mind (like health, personal growth, and support networks), and what challenges prevent people from thriving and helping others thrive.

Check out the notes HERE.

To view notes from older dialogues, check out the Dialogue Notes Archive.

Why Building Pathways?


Everyday, we make decisions that will impact peoples’ quality of life and even whether people live or die. We make decisions about food, water, shelter, education, etc. While we’re making these decisions, we’re guided by questions like: Who do we give to? When do we give?  How much? Why? Our answers are shaped by the stories we tell ourselves about who we believe we are, who others are, and what we all deserve.

If we want to live in a better world, we have to act. But since we act on our beliefs, we need to examine how our beliefs lead to the big and small decisions that shape our communities.


STORY BANK: Know Yourself & Others

Building communities that serve us all requires us to recognize each others’ needs and humanity. Sometimes, we aren’t able to recognize either until we know others’ stories.


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“We know, of course, there’s really no such thing as the ‘voiceless.’ There are only the deliberately silenced, or the preferably unheard.”

— Arundhati Roy


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