November 10, 2017
Posted in City, Learning
November 10, 2017 LloydWright
What if we heat the social melting pot?


Being around people who are different from us makes us more creative, more diligent and harder-working. Very seldom is there a problem with lack of projects or ideas. The problem typically is how to combine best groups of ideas and people that create new innovative services or solutions.

Working with complex issues with hundreds of parameters requires a new co-creation approach inviting everyone to participate where arts and creative industries play a fundamental catalyst role. In Europe, an overflowing migrant crisis and the aftermath of a high-profile terrorist attack are fueling racial tumult in several countries; in the US, a contentious Supreme Court case about affirmative action just opened up in the midst of escalating race-related frustrations on college campuses. In Myanmar, the Nobel Peace Prize winner who prevailed in elections recently is already under fire for relative silence on the status of the Rohingya, an ethnic minority persecuted at the hands of Buddhist monks and government security forces. With those kinds of conflicts as backdrop, it’s worth noting that a large body of research conducted across dozens of years, countries, and situational settings maintains that racial and ethnic diversity is critically important to our communities, our social institutions, and even our own brains.

When we are able to effectively combine this diversity into the S2S Reactor, we will not only release the Group Genius and Grit during the reactor activity, but augment in general our collective capacity for action. All the pieces are already here, they just need assembling and only diversity can be used for complex challenges. A community is the collective sum of the value of its individual inhabitants multiplied by the community’s ability to synergize these individual parts (by curating organized and random encounters). Every encounter or engagement has an opportunity to be a synergistic one. Empathetic cross-pollinated engagements are the key. The city of Alexandria during the time of Euclid was a perfect example of this. Even though there were organized discussions and forums, just walking down the street could lead to a serendipitous encounter that might result in a groundbreaking discovery.

"The fact is that if you want to build teams or organizations capable of innovating, you need diversity. Diversity enhances creativity. It encourages the search for novel information and perspectives, leading to better decision-making and problem solving. Diversity can lead to unfettered discoveries and breakthrough innovations. Even simply being exposed to diversity can change the way you think. This is not just wishful thinking: it is the conclusion I draw from decades of research from organizational scientists, psychologists, sociologists, economists and demographers."
Scientific American
The Power of Anticipation


The key to understanding the positive influence of diversity is the concept of informational diversity. When people are brought together to solve problems in groups, they bring different information, opinions and perspectives. This makes obvious sense when we talk about diversity of disciplinary backgrounds think again of the interdisciplinary team building a car. The same logic applies to social diversity. People who are different from one another in race, gender and other dimensions bring unique information and experiences to bear on the task at hand. A male and a female engineer might have perspectives as different from one another as an engineer and a physicist and that is a good thing.

  • Decades of research by organizational scientists, psychologists, sociologists, economists and demographers show that socially diverse groups (that is, those with a diversity of race, ethnicity, gender and sexual orientation) are more innovative than homogeneous groups.
  • It seems obvious that a group of people with diverse individual expertise would be better than a homogeneous group at solving complex, nonroutine problems. It is less obvious that social diversity should work in the same way—yet the science shows that it does.
  • This is not only because people with different backgrounds bring new information. Simply interacting with individuals who are different forces group members to prepare better, to anticipate alternative viewpoints and to expect that reaching consensus will take effort.



Diversity is not only about bringing different perspectives to the table. Simply adding social diversity to a group makes people believe that differences of perspective might exist among them and that belief makes people change their behavior. Members of a homogeneous group rest somewhat assured that they will agree with one another; that they will understand one another’s perspectives and beliefs; that they will be able to easily come to a consensus. But when members of a group notice that they are socially different from one another, they change their expectations. They anticipate differences of opinion and perspective. They assume they will need to work harder to come to a consensus. This logic helps to explain both the upside and the downside of social diversity: people work harder in diverse environments both cognitively and socially. They might not like it, but the hard work can lead to better outcomes.

Value Creation Studies
The S2S Community

Every member of our community is unique and adds to its fabric. Everyone has something to offer and everyone should be heard no matter their age or social standing. It’s up to us to find it and help them see it. The more expressively diverse our community is, the more resilient it is and more potential it has to invoke change both inside and outside its walls.

Our focus must actively be on inclusion, not retreat into personal protectionism and paranoia of those different from us. We must resist the temptation of the comfort of sameness. Nothing happens in our comfort zones. If we don’t venture into the land of wonder we’ll never see, let alone realize the possibilities life avails to us.

"At the S2S Reactor we will look at how the project can support community and economic development and serve as the social heart of the neighbourhood, the city and the region. We will always work to ensure that your projects are economically and environmentally sustainable."
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