Tea Exchange

by Lucky Mohamud | Mar 23, 2012
| 1 Comment

Summary:

For the people of Somalia, tea signifies life, friendship, community… a reason to gather. Around the world people have built cultures around the tradition of tea. On this rich history and everyday practice, we call together Minnesotans of all backgrounds around the “Tea Exchange.”

Using this innovative platform, and partnering with the American Refugee Committee, an international humanitarian organization based in Minneapolis, we would begin with an extensive, diverse network of more than 500 volunteers who would act as “Tea Exchange” hosts. Two people of different backgrounds would call together their closest friends for an “Exchange.”

The Exchange setting would be welcoming and intimate, offering a comfortable environment for neighbors to get to know each other as people. The platform would foster sharing on many levels to highlight not only what makes each of us unique, but also what we all share as human beings.

The Exchange model will be “DIY”, and hosts will be encouraged to build experiences that fit their individual personalities. Hosts would choose an Exchange theme, and ask guests to bring something special—based on that theme - to exchange with other guests: a favorite book, a dessert item, or even a beloved scarf! These items would be used as a conversation tool: guests would share the story behind that special item, and what it means to them. Toward the end of the Exchange, the guests would be asked to take one action to explore their community: eating at a new restaurant, visiting someone new to their neighborhood, or even visiting a market they’ve never been to.

The “Tea Exchange” is innovative in that it uses a familiar tradition of gathering for tea to foster new and unexpected connections through an exchange of something personal. After all, it is our quirks, our stories, and our laughter that brings our culture and our greater humanity to life.

About You

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About You

First Name

Lucky

Last Name

Mohamud

Country

United States, MN

City

Innovation

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Title

Tea Exchange

What is your best idea to build bonds and work together across cultures and faiths in your community?

For the people of Somalia, tea signifies life, friendship, community… a reason to gather. Around the world people have built cultures around the tradition of tea. On this rich history and everyday practice, we call together Minnesotans of all backgrounds around the “Tea Exchange.”
Using this innovative platform, and partnering with the American Refugee Committee, an international humanitarian organization based in Minneapolis, we would begin with an extensive, diverse network of more than 500 volunteers who would act as “Tea Exchange” hosts. Two people of different backgrounds would call together their closest friends for an “Exchange.”
The Exchange setting would be welcoming and intimate, offering a comfortable environment for neighbors to get to know each other as people. The platform would foster sharing on many levels to highlight not only what makes each of us unique, but also what we all share as human beings.
The Exchange model will be “DIY”, and hosts will be encouraged to build experiences that fit their individual personalities. Hosts would choose an Exchange theme, and ask guests to bring something special—based on that theme - to exchange with other guests: a favorite book, a dessert item, or even a beloved scarf! These items would be used as a conversation tool: guests would share the story behind that special item, and what it means to them. Toward the end of the Exchange, the guests would be asked to take one action to explore their community: eating at a new restaurant, visiting someone new to their neighborhood, or even visiting a market they’ve never been to.
The “Tea Exchange” is innovative in that it uses a familiar tradition of gathering for tea to foster new and unexpected connections through an exchange of something personal. After all, it is our quirks, our stories, and our laughter that brings our culture and our greater humanity to life.

Impact and Sustainability

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How will your idea have a positive impact on your community?

The Tea Exchange serves as a 21st Century response to the idealized 1950s-style neighborhoods where neighbors knew each other and felt safe and connected. Tea Exchanges will create an environment where neighbors are not seen as strangers—but as friends.

The Tea Exchange will have a positive, lasting impact in Minnesota at multiple levels. It will build bridges across cultures and will also serve as a way for newcomers in our community to connect with residents & businesses who have been here for many years.

Exchanges will impact participants on a personal level, building special connections and friendships. Participants will learn about cultures in an indirect way: seeing our shared humanity through getting to know one another; exchanging stories; and experiencing the sights, tastes, and smells that make our cultures unique.

At a broader level, it will create a community that sees itself as enriched by diversity—not threatened by it – helping to give new meaning to “Minnesota Nice.” Additionally, we hope to see this integrated at the institutional level through potential partnerships with Minnesota cities.

The Exchange will enrich lives and our greater community by connecting people and encouraging them to explore their neighborhoods through a new lens, learn about other cultures in our community, and support local small businesses. Exchange events will be intimate gatherings hosted in homes or in public venues such as restaurants or community centers.

In addition, by asking guests to take one action following the Exchange, the gatherings will foster an environment where individuals feel empowered and encouraged to explore other neighborhood businesses they may often pass, but never actually step inside. These introductions will help to provide positive marketing exposure and support to local small businesses. Several local restaurants have already expressed interest in participating.

What do you think the lasting effect will be if your idea is implemented?

The “Tea Exchange” will work with institutional partners to ensure sustainability.

Phase I of the Tea Exchange will be implemented in partnership with the American Refugee Committee. Based on their unique, community-building experience, ARC will help recruit, connect & mentor hosts. ARC will also work with participants to share their stories using current social media, helping to create a collective experience. ARC can than broadcast the greater story to the public to ease implementation and lend to its sustainability.

Additional partners:

BUSINESSES: The Exchange will address a problem facing many newcomers to Minnesota: integrating into established networks. We will connect with companies, encouraging them to share the Exchange with employees who recently moved to Minnesota fostering a more positive community experience and lending to greater talent retention.

CITIES: We will encourage cities to adopt the Exchange at a neighborhood level. ARC has already partnered with the City of Minneapolis and would explore similar partnerships. During the first pilot year, we will also involve different cities and towns across the state.

INDIVIDUALS: Hosts can serve as ambassadors encouraging guests to host Exchanges and spread the word among their friends. They can also network with friends in other communities to expand the Exchange idea nationally and globally.

As a Somali-American & ARC volunteer, I personally am excited about the possibility of a program that can lessen isolation and build community. I can already envision a Tea Exchange in the Cedar Riverside neighborhood. It would bring together Somali and Vietnamese neighbors, as well as students who live in the area. The Tea Exchange would provide an ideal platform to bring together neighbors, here and in many other Minnesotan communities, who are still hoping for their lives to intersect in more meaningful ways.

marie mariee said: Tea exchange event are really rare and I really loved attending every one of them. - Rabbi Binyomin Lisbon about this Competition Entry. - 2003 days ago read more >

Lucky Mohamud updated this Competition Entry. - 2671 days ago

Lucky Mohamud submitted this idea. - 2671 days ago