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Building Bridges: Community Resilience and Healing from Trauma

Utilize the model of Intentional Social Interaction to Build Community Resilience, Healing from Trauma and bridge cultural differences.

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Explain your project idea (2,000 characters)

In a time of political and social fragmentation, we bring people together across difference to find common ground on important public policy issues. Intentional Social Interaction (IZI) is a unique experience engineering model that builds individual and community capacity for addressing issues of civic interest as they unfold in real-time, while increasing participants’ ability to connect, plan and collaborate for effective grassroots change, renegotiating power relations from the bottom up. IZI builds understanding and cross-cultural competency, catalyzing authentic relationships and creating dialogue that supports communities of interest in directly impacting the services, organizations and systems that impact their lives. In this way, we build bridges toward peace, prosperity and planetary sustainability by providing tools to individuals and organizations within their own communities to help pave their own way to healing and building resilience within their own communities. Using the model of Intentional Social Interaction (IZI), we plan to expand our community bridge-building series, Building Resilience and Healing from Trauma to the 18 communities across Minnesota that have requested this work, but lack the resources to host it. This series is designed to create access to integrative, holistic, culturally-relevant healing and wellness techniques with local community practitioners, and provide space for individuals, community healers, policy makers and a broad swath of diverse community stakeholders to build up community capacity for collective resilience. Building Resilience and Healing from Trauma directly address the underlying tensions and stressors within a community, making a pathway for dramatic transformation by promoting collective and individual health and wellbeing, building cross-cultural bridges and social capital across difference within a model that supports collective action planning for community-generated and collaboratively-led change.

Who are the beneficiaries? (1,000 characters)

IZI is a multi-generational, inclusive model that is designed to build bridges across difference and catalyze and expand existing social capital within a community. As a mission-driven organization, we select projects and orient all of our efforts toward improving the lives of Indigenous persons and other people of color, immigrants and new Americans, the disenfranchised, the poor, those living with disabilities, the LGBTQIA+, and all those unheard and excluded from the policy-making and resource-sharing table. IZI makes room for these crucial community voices at the table, providing a safe, neutral space where the right connections can be made with enough structure to take concrete action on a wide variety of public policy and social justice issues. We are in the process of scaling our model of Intentional Social Interaction to reach communities nationally, but in the near-term, the beneficiaries will be located across Minnesota, in rural, urban, and suburban regions.

How is your idea unique? (1,000 characters)

Intentional Social Interaction (IZI) is a one-of-a-kind experience engineering model that effectively and efficiently builds bridges across difference and works to counteract implicit bias and preconceived notions of the “other.” Where retailers use experience engineering to extract money from shoppers, simply by the way they move and orient themselves around the space, IZI uses this same experience engineering technology to promote inclusivity, equity and building bridges across difference. Our model is unique in that it does not employ a confrontational approach to addressing biases directly, electing instead to uncover differences in an environment designed to be authentically welcoming and make it possible for guests to connect and allow differences to be assimilated in a positive framework that values all equally, providing skills that can extend beyond community engagement events to ignite lasting change.

Idea Proposal Stage (choose one)

  • Early Adoption: I have completed a pilot and analyzed the impact of that pilot on the intended users of the idea. I have begun to expand the pilot for early adoption.

Tell us more about your organization/company (1 sentence and website URL)

During our thirteen years of building cross-cultural connections across race, class, culture and other means of self-identity, more than 43,000 guests have come to the Table, and over 1,500 youth and multi-generational community members have been trained to host their own community IZIs, bringing effective community engagement, participatory action research, and collective change efforts to neighborhoods, schools, and regions across the Midwest and state of Minnesota.

Expertise in sector

  • 7+ years

Organization Filing Status

  • Yes, we are a registered non-profit.

In 3-4 sentences, tell us the inspiration or story that encouraged you to start this project.

As a teenager, our founder, Marnita Schroedl, left her last foster care home in an all-white town north of Seattle, taking with her the experience of feeling unwanted in one’s own community. While working in the corporate world, Marnita encountered experience engineering models used to extract wealth. Since then, she has developed this social technology to effectively bridge differences in our community rather than exploit them, in order to better collaborate for change.

Please explain how your selected topic areas are influenced, in the local context of your project (1,000 characters).

Building Resilience and Healing from Trauma intersect with the aims of peace, prosperity and planetary wellbeing. Given the current political and social climate of the United States, building bridges across the gulf of difference has never been more important. If people don’t feel welcome within their own community, then true peace will remain out of reach for all of us. In Minnesota and beyond, deep disparities exist that actively depress the prosperity of our communities making the pursuit of economic justice and equitable access to the social capital necessary to support economic equity essential. Without peace and prosperity, concerted social action to improve the ecological health of our communities will not happen. IZI addresses all three challenge areas in a holistic and adaptable model that promotes transformation across difference by helping stakeholders plan for resilience and come together for healing and actionable strategic planning through concerted social action.

Who will work alongside your organization in the project idea? (1,000 characters)

We have a longstanding relationship with the Catalyst Initiative of The Minneapolis Foundation, developing the conference and dialogue series’ Building Resilience and Healing from Trauma during our partnership. We partner with local organizations to host projects and events, and have developed enduring relationships and partnerships with organizations, foundations, and local and state governments across Minnesota. We engage in extensive research, identifying community stakeholders, and analyzing deficits in social capital within a community in order to maximize effectiveness and partner directly with stakeholders to collaboratively address relevant community issues. Our engagement process ensures that each event includes at least 51% IPOC and 25-33% youth under 24 and other hard-to-reach stakeholders. Through this process, we are able to build community developed action plans that are sustainable and actionable, even without our organization directly managing future projects.

Please share some of the top strengths identified in the community which your project will serve (500 characters)

Minnesota has a growing immigrant and IPOC community reinvigorating the historically predominantly white state. These populations bring tremendous benefits to Minnesota, revitalizing the economy, building diversity in the state and reflecting the future of the US, and are natural partners in the work that we do. We recognize their expertise and significance in collaborating for change and our efforts are benefited greatly by the work already being done locally by organizers and activists.

Geographic Focus

Focused in expanding across the State of Minnesota, rural, urban and suburban.

How many months are required for the project idea? (500 characters)

This project is an 18-month series bringing Healing from Trauma and Building Resilience to 6 of the 18 communities that have requested this work, and up to 3 emergent IZI events focused on topics/conversations in the same or nearby communities. First 3 months – planning, strategic development. 3-6 months – first 3 events, individual community reports 6-12 months – next 3 events, individual community reports 12-18 months – up to 3 “emergent issue” events and final project reportage.

Did you submit this idea to our 2017 BridgeBuilder Challenge? (Y/N)

  • No

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Join the conversation:

Photo of Angi Yoder Maina

Hi Lars!We would love to host a IZI in Nairobi, Kenya. Given our own political, social and cultural impasses I think this type of interaction would work very well here in our current climate. Thus if you ever wish to go international, please get in contact with us.

Some questions on the process... How much does it cost to hold one IzI, and what type of expenses do you have? Is there any preparation for those that attend? And what type / length of training do you offer for those who wish to host an IZI?

Do you have a more detailed video which shows in more detail the process and how happens at an IZI?



Leah Gage  -- this is the other really cool project I was telling you about.

Photo of Lars null

Hi Angi,

I'm sorry for taking this long to get back to you. We really appreciate your comments and interest in IZI. We certainly have big ambitions for spreading the model of IZI, but at this point, an expansion internationally is not yet in the cards.

The cost of an IZI varies depending on the scope, location, food and beverage, the number of people and the specific project goals. I don't think I could at the moment give you an accurate estimate for what it might cost in Nairobi. In addition to the costs of the event itself, much of the current costs involve the time and hours spent on researching the community, our extensive outreach (door-to-door, local media, etc.) and engagement pre-event, as well as measuring outcomes after the event and developing recommendations for next steps.

We are in the process of developing curriculum for an online platform for training individuals in IZI, and we don't yet have a comprehensive video of what IZI involves. If you have interest in learning more, please email me at If you reach out to me, I would be happy to pass your email along to our Training Manager.

Thank you so much I hope you have a lovely day,

Photo of Angi Yoder Maina

Lars,I will be in touch.


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