Midway through Finding Home’s launch dialogue in 2007, where over 155 participants from diverse backgrounds explored the concept of Finding Home in our current global and local contexts, a participant asked, “How do we make sense of all these individual interpretations of what creates home and arrive at a sense of ‘collective home’ where we can all belong?”
In response to this question, Dianne Shiner from Whidbey Institute relayed a story about working in a foster care project for unaccompanied refugee children. The staff, one day discussed what they felt was the one indicator that cut across diverse cultures and indicated when a child felt a sense of belonging. After many discussions they identified what became known as the “refrigerator factor”. When a child feels comfortable enough to go to the
refrigerator on their own, open the door and help themselves to the food knowing it belonged equally to them – this indicated that a child felt at home – that they truly belonged.!
In reflecting on her story, the challenge was put to the group “How do we create a world, a town, a home, where people feel they belong and can come to the refrigerator and help themselves?”