Building Pathways: Community Dialogue Series

Building Pathways to Understanding is a 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 who we are and what we deserve. Come share and your experiences. Everyone is an expert in their own lives. The only requirement to participate is a commitment to listen.

We aim to have a diverse group of participants so that each dialogue will include different experiences. All dialogues will be hosted virtually through Zoom. You’re welcome to Zoom in to listen.

Scroll down to SIGN UP for dialogues in the Fall 2021/Winter 2022 Calendar!

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 different types of traumatic events and the ways they impact us, the importance of cultural competency when we engage with and talk about people who have been traumatized, why removing yourself from traumatic situations and environments is not as easy as it seems, and how addressing/resolving trauma requires (1) an honest accounting of our history and (2) recognizing how the distinctions between people/communities impact how we are treated by others and our experiences.

Check out the notes HERE.

We talked about how we have been socialized throughout all stages of life to accept violence as a feature of daily life, how people who grow up in violent environments have undiagnosed PTSD that may in some cases contribute to the perpetuation violence, how our gender affects the way we are socialized into violence, examples of violence inflicted by institutions (in the legal system and the workplace), and what kind of resources are necessary to break the cycles of violence.

Check out the notes HERE.

We talked about why people feel entitled to take or access aspects of other cultures without learning about or asking for consent from and crediting the communities where that culture originates. We also discussed examples of cultural appropriation in (1) business, (2) government, and (3) education; how responsible culture sharing is necessary to expose people to diverse ways of living and to promote cultural humility and accountability; and the importance of learning to take “no” for an answer when it is not appropriate for you to access and/or use culture from communities you are not a member of.

Check out the notes HERE.

We talked about how citizenship goes beyond having “paperwork” to prove one’s status, how language barriers can prevent people from feeling like citizens regardless of status, how being able to exercise  the full scope of citizenship requires a person to first have their basic needs met and to be aware of their rights, how citizenship does not always guarantee that you will have access to all your rights (e.g. the homeless), and how we have been conditioned to believe that U.S. citizens are supposed to look a certain way.

Check out the notes HERE.

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.

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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