Building a world where everyone — and everything — belongs

I started this newsletter in April 2019 with a reflection on this inquiry: Can we create an “us” without a “them”?

I believe deeply that the answer is yes… but it’s never been done at the scale this moment requires. If we’re going to do it… it will take all of us, stepping into the fullest expression of our gifts.

This is a place for me to share my ongoing learning journey around how transformation happens, where I do my best to distill and engage with some of the best thinking and practice happening in the world today.

I am a commitment to building a world where everyone belongs. I do that in my professional life through an emergent collaborative called Building Belonging. And I use this newsletter to write my personal reflections about how belonging intersects with… everything. I call it “bridging” in homage to john a. powell, who introduced me to the concept (see this post)… and as part of how I understand our work: building a bridge from the present to the world we long for.

If you’re new to this newsletter, here are three posts that seem to resonate with readers that might give you a flavor of what you’ll find here:

Finding light in darkness

Belonging to ourselves, each other, and the earth

We need to talk about scale

Why I write

I write for three reasons:

  1. I love to write. I always have. It’s one of the ways I express myself (I keep a journal too). I love the transformative power of language, its ability to illuminate, to create possibility.

  2. It’s how I make sense of the world. There is so much happening, at such incredible speed, that it’s extremely difficult to separate signal from noise, to know what to pay attention to and what to let pass by. I often don’t know my own thoughts or perspective on a topic until I write: it is the process of making visible to myself my own thoughts.

  3. I want to connect with others. I want to find the “other others.” I know I’m not alone in grappling with these questions. I write in hopes that kindred spirits will find me, will share their own ideas and practices, and that together we can move toward the world we know is possible.

I only write when my muse demands it, and when my capacity allows (not always easy with two young kids and a full-time job). That ends up being roughly every 2-4 weeks.

Each post typically involves around 50 hours of “work.” I say “work” in quotes because to me it isn’t work: it brings me joy. About 60% of that is inputs: reading (books, essays, blog posts, tweets, memes), listening (primarily podcasts), and conversing (mostly in the context of my work with Building Belonging). This is about experiencing other people’s gifts. The other 40% is distilling, synthesizing, searching for the deepest kernel of wisdom that wants to emerge… and taking my own perspective on it. Thinking. Trying to express my own gift.

I sometimes describe myself as a “curator,” resonating with Agnes Callard’s notion of being a “midwife to knowledge.” I share Koyo Kouoh’s sentiments on the art of curation:

I also understand the practice of curating as a practice of enabling, of making possible, unearthing, opening, and channeling ideas and energies.

A responsibility I take very seriously in that practice is trying to always source my inspirations; Veena Dubal beautifully captures why:

Ideas are not invented. They are built through conversations and relationships with friends, colleagues, communities of people. Citation practices are a way of honoring that lovely, Liberating process. I’m skeptical of anyone who wants to claim their ideas are theirs alone.

Practicing interdependence

I decided (in October 2021, with the publication of my 45th post!) to start experimenting with inviting readers to join me in practice around the gift economy, by enabling “paid” subscriptions (“paid” in quotes because I don’t like the implication of a transactional exchange… the whole point for me is to invite us to experiment with a different way of sharing our gifts). For more on how I’m thinking about this, please check out this post:

Building Belonging
An invitation to interdependence
This isn’t one of my normal posts. Rather, today I want to take a break from my (ir)regularly scheduled programming to share two invitations: I want to make it possible for you to make a gift in support of this newsletter and me, should you so choose. Note: I’m deliberately avoiding the words “pay” and “charge” because to me it’s about trying to live wit…
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If this sounds like a place where you might belong… please join!

Subscribe to Bridging toward Belonging

What would it look like to build a movement for the 100%? To create an "us" without a "them"? This is a monthly(ish) newsletter exploring these questions, in service of building a world where everyone — and everything — belongs.


Brian Stout

Global citizen, husband, father, bridger. Committed to co-creating a world where everyone (& everything) belongs: where everyone is safe, seen, and celebrated.