Hill: Diversity, cooperation lead communities to success
By By Paul Keane
Diversity and bringing in talents, resources, data and experience from all areas is what makes a community strong, according to a training expert that worked with Leadership Atmore's 2003 class on Thursday.
"Difference shape our perspective," said Ramona Hill, owner and director of Workshops, Etc…, a Daphne-based training and motivational company. Hill's company has held two training sessions with the Leadership Atmore class this year, with Thursday's session being on diversity and culture.
"Diversity is when we find common ground and appreciate our differences," she told the class. "If we can appreciate those differences, we can learn to work with them."
Hill pointed out that everyone that lives in the Poarch community is automatically assumed to be Native American, but that isn't the case. Challenging those stereotypes and paradigms is what leads to diversity.
Hill had the class put together a time line of what has happened and changed – both good and bad – in Atmore since the turn of the century. She also broke the class into groups to describe and explain the strong points and weaknesses of the community.
She added that communicating about these strengths and weaknesses is where true progress comes from.
"In communities, we can't move foward if we're not communicating," she said. "We'd all be better off if we can pull all the data, resources and experiences from the entire community together."
Using an exercise with mixed-up pieces from two separate puzzles – and not allowing anyone to talk during the exercise – Hill showed how pooling resources and working together as a team – even when there are different groups – can help accomplish common goals.
"We are a competitive society by nature," she said. "That means someone wins and someone loses. In a community, though, if we are working together, then we can all win."
Hill pointed to the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks as a proven case of people coming together for a common cause.
"After Sept. 11, we are all Americans, period," she said. "We have to think the same way about our communities. We have to become a whole community in order to move forward and be successful."