Ladies' (Swim) Night

by Elly Kuhlman | Mar 09, 2012
| 3 Comments

Summary:

Faribault is a community in transition. Over the past 20 years, Faribault’s demographics have shifted rapidly with the influx of Latino and Somali immigrants/refugees. Unfortunately, these changes have led to tension and mistrust rather than celebration and joy. As a result, many members of the Faribault community are unwilling to engage in formal conversations about diversity. As a non-profit dedicated to Faribault’s diverse youth, we have watched this situation with increasing concern. Thus, we propose to bring members of all of Faribault’s different communities together in a different way: Ladies’ (Swim) Night!
Ladies’ (Swim) Night will create a space for all Faribault women and girls to get together and enjoy a fun, free night of swimming, activities, structured conversation, and relationship-building. Once a month, we will gather at a local pool for open swim, swimming lessons, art projects, and dinner. During swimming, dinner, and activities, attendees will meet and get to know women from other faiths and cultures in a casual yet intentional way. Transportation will be provided to ensure everyone can attend these events.
Ladies’ (Swim) Night is special because it brings community members together to talk about and experience diversity in a safe space. To ensure the quality of the program and the safety of those involved, we will host special guests with expertise in intercultural and interfaith interactions. These guests will vary from guest artists who will lead accessible and interactive art projects to skilled facilitators who will support meal-time conversation. We want to ensure that everyone who attends our program has a positive, high-quality experience. Additionally, while we want program attendees to push themselves out of their comfort zones, we want everyone to feel safe while attending Ladies’ (Swim) Night. Providing new experiences like swimming, art, and purposeful conversation will bring Faribault’s women together across cultures and faiths.

About You

read more ↓↑ hide↑ hide

About You

First Name

Elly

Last Name

Kuhlman

Country

United States, MN, Rice County

City

Faribault

Innovation

read more↑ hide↑ hide

Title

Ladies' (Swim) Night

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

Faribault is a community in transition. Over the past 20 years, Faribault’s demographics have shifted rapidly with the influx of Latino and Somali immigrants/refugees. Unfortunately, these changes have led to tension and mistrust rather than celebration and joy. As a result, many members of the Faribault community are unwilling to engage in formal conversations about diversity. As a non-profit dedicated to Faribault’s diverse youth, we have watched this situation with increasing concern. Thus, we propose to bring members of all of Faribault’s different communities together in a different way: Ladies’ (Swim) Night!
Ladies’ (Swim) Night will create a space for all Faribault women and girls to get together and enjoy a fun, free night of swimming, activities, structured conversation, and relationship-building. Once a month, we will gather at a local pool for open swim, swimming lessons, art projects, and dinner. During swimming, dinner, and activities, attendees will meet and get to know women from other faiths and cultures in a casual yet intentional way. Transportation will be provided to ensure everyone can attend these events.
Ladies’ (Swim) Night is special because it brings community members together to talk about and experience diversity in a safe space. To ensure the quality of the program and the safety of those involved, we will host special guests with expertise in intercultural and interfaith interactions. These guests will vary from guest artists who will lead accessible and interactive art projects to skilled facilitators who will support meal-time conversation. We want to ensure that everyone who attends our program has a positive, high-quality experience. Additionally, while we want program attendees to push themselves out of their comfort zones, we want everyone to feel safe while attending Ladies’ (Swim) Night. Providing new experiences like swimming, art, and purposeful conversation will bring Faribault’s women together across cultures and faiths.

Impact and Sustainability

read more↑ hide↑ hide

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

Many of Faribault’s female residents do not have access to swimming opportunities because they cannot afford pool membership or because their cultural values forbid them to swim in mixed-gender settings. Ladies’ (Swim) Night offers all of Faribault’s female residents the opportunity to get exercise in a fun and inviting way. Even more importantly, Faribault’s women and girls will enjoy each other’s company and learn from each other in a safe and welcoming environment. These women will be deeply impacted by their participation in Ladies’ (Swim) Night. Through their interactions they will become more comfortable around members of different cultures and faiths. We hope that beyond comfort, true friendship and camaraderie will develop between the women.
Yet Ladies’ (Swim) Night will impact more than just the 75-150 women and girls we anticipate attending. As these females build connections across cultures and faiths, they gain greater understanding about their new neighbors. This new understanding will permeate their interactions with all members of the Faribault community, helping spread welcoming and open behavior throughout the community. While Ladies’ (Swim) Night provides a safe space for intercultural interactions to take place, it is by no means the only space these interactions can take place. The connections, relationships, and learning that happen at Ladies’ (Swim) Night are meant to be taken from the pool to the grocery store, the PTA, and beyond. As women and girls who attend Ladies’ (Swim) Night become more comfortable with and understanding of each other, they will be empowered to act as agents of change in Faribault, slowly changing the attitudes and stereotypes so long perpetuated here. It is crucial that positive intercultural interactions take place. Without these interactions, Faribault will not be able to move forward as a safe, welcoming, productive, and proud community.

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

The Ladies’ (Swim) Night project will have a lasting effect in several ways. First, we will work to gain enough buy-in from community members during this initial year that there will be a push to continue funding for Ladies’ (Swim) Night through community efforts. Previous attempts to bring swimming opportunities to Faribault’s women have been moderately successful. We hope to ramp up this success rate, increase the number of women and cultures represented at swimming opportunities, and establish Ladies’ (Swim) Night as a space where safe intercultural and interfaith interactions can take place. Once the program has been established, we believe that the community will work to find new sources of funding to keep the program running.
Second, once established, this program could be easily replicated. As we develop our Ladies’ (Swim) Nights, we will be compiling resources that can easily be shared with other communities facing similar cultural competency gaps. There are many communities in greater Minnesota with demographics and tensions similar to those in Faribault. Up until now, we have had few models of intercultural exchange from outside the metro area. Ladies’ (Swim) Night could serve as an attainable program for intercultural exchange in rural communities. If selected, we would be more than happy to share our resources, successes, and struggles with other communities looking to replicate our program.
Third, the changes in attitude brought about by the intercultural interaction at Ladies’ (Swim) Night will have a lasting effect on the Faribault community. They will start a cycle of change that, once started, will be self-sustaining. If Faribault is truly to be a sustainable community with a bright future, it is imperative that the community come together across cultures and faiths. As a program, Ladies’ (Swim) Night will have many opportunities to be replicated and sustained, but even more importantly, it will help Faribault and its diverse residents thrive!

Martina Yusay said: It was a great deal by yours. Hoping that it will be shown to anyone and make sense. - Sandra Dyche about this Competition Entry. - 2143 days ago read more >

Elly Kuhlman updated this Competition Entry. - 2658 days ago

Elly Kuhlman updated this Competition Entry. - 2659 days ago

Elly Kuhlman said: Thanks, Katina! Unfortunately I didn't see your post until this morning, so we didn't submit any additional ideas this challenge. Next ... about this Competition Entry. - 2659 days ago read more >
Katina Petersen said: This is a really exciting idea- it makes me wonder, what other types of events like this could bring people together across cultures and ... about this Competition Entry. - 2685 days ago read more >

Elly Kuhlman updated this Competition Entry. - 2685 days ago

Elly Kuhlman submitted this idea. - 2685 days ago