Bridging 23

Calling Forth the Beloved Community!

WHAT is Bridging US 23?

Bridging US 23 is an initiative developed by the Association for Youth Empowerment (AYE) in collaboration with The Dispute Resolution Center. It is dedicated to transforming the way the people of Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti and the people of the surrounding counties relate to one another. Bridging US 23 was founded on the belief that when people unite for the greater good, positive change is inevitable. Our ultimate goal is to connect COMMUNITIES, inspire COMPASSION and take ACTION to call forth the beloved community.

WHY Bridging US 23?
In southeast Michigan we live in a culture of fear, apathy and separation. While race may be the most visible line of separation between people and between communities ~ religion, ethnicity, socio-economic status, and sexual orientation also separate us. We say that US 23, in addition to being a physical boundary between Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti, is also a metaphor for all the lines of separation between us as people.

In this culture of separation, neglect and isolation are viewed as “just the way it is.” It is common for people from each side of the divide to live in separate worlds, cut off from the gift of experiencing and relating to those on the other side as on the same team. It is safe to say that we are cut off from “loving our neighbors as ourselves,” because we don’t even know our neighbors.

If we are honest with ourselves, we know that unless there is a dramatic shift in the mindsets and behaviors of our communities, the (probable – almost certain) future facing us is more alienation, isolation, fear and the terrible costs that result. Bridging US 23 is a positive step in shifting our mindsets.

How Bridging US 23?

A central component of Bridging US 23 is a series of Peace Building Circles and ReImagining Community events, attended jointly by residents from Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti, and the towns and cities in Washtenaw and Livingston Counties. The Dispute Resolution Center’s Peace Building Circles, through its creative, ground-breaking techniques, has a spectacular track record of breaking down barriers between people and causing them to see
each other with new eyes. Seeing others with new eyes is the doorway to new possibilities between people and between communities. It’s a path to a new future.

Bridging US 23 Strategy
We see Bridging US 23 as a three step strategy:

  • The first step is a series of Peace Building Circles, and Re-Imagining Community events that bring adults and young people of good will together and creating the experience of community ~ where everyone has the experience of being heard and understood.
  • The 2nd step is “community visioning events” where we create visions of a shared future.
  • And the 3rd step is collaborating with organizations that are already in action creating a new Southeast Michigan or creating new initiatives to make that difference.

It’s safe to say that almost everybody in the region is looking for the answer to the question of “how do we create the Southeast Michigan we really want: One in which all the cities and communities in the region identify as one team.” We say that the answer is in our heart and that getting to know each other will open our hearts to the answer. Opening our hearts is
the first step in Bridging US23

The role of the Association for Youth Empowerment The Dispute Resolution Center is to empower collaborations that are certain to happen as we get to know each other and create new futures.

Collaboration Takes Root and Blooms

What might these collaborations look like? The field is wide open. Our mission is to bring people of good will together to connect them, and then to empower them to contribute to the community. Some examples of collaboration might include:

  • Vastly expanded support for existing Literacy/ Tutoring / Mentoring Programs
  • Empowering Educators and Educational Leaders
  • Creating Networking / Fellowship / Community Nights
  • Cross Cultural Dialogue Events
  • Ethnic Potluck Dinners
  • Music and Art Festivals and Events
  • Business / Entrepreneur Round Tables and other Resource Sharing Opportunities
  • More …. Let your imagination run wild …..

One thing we do know is that the collaborations will be fun, exciting and rewarding!

NOW Bridging US23

Imagine people in our communities viewing each other as friends and neighbors, where collaboration takes root and blooms. Imagine a place where former enemies come together and act as family. Imagine a place where neighbors love each other as themselves. Imagine the beloved community! We can make this happen.

We can make this happen when we Bridge US23!