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What does it mean to be inclusive? For the past few weeks, guided by a program from The Aspen Institute, I have reflected on diversity and inclusion with a small group of strangers that quickly became friends. Our discussions inspired me to write the following poem, which stands as an artifact of our time together, during a pandemic and national unrest, and the things that we learned from each other. 


I want to build a ladder

to a world without so much fear

I want to find a space

of belonging,

of care,

of love

where we can take each other as we are, as we’ve been, as we will be

And rejoice in the difference

And revel in the act of creation together 

I want to build a bell stand

To understand what it means to become one with nature

With each other

With ourselves

I want to find my bell stand

In a time of unwellness

Of hunger

Of other worldliness and disconnection 

And let it guide me to nourishment and love and formation

To form not only ourselves from the twisting wood of the tree but everyone we know

And love

And hate

And pity

To create beyond this world

What it means

To be free, together

Kaidyn Radford

Kaidyn Radford is an undergraduate senior in the departments of Communication and Media and Women and Gender Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Originally, he comes from western North Carolina, where he earned an associate of applied science degree in advertising and graphic Design. This year, as a part of the John M. Belk Impact Fellowship, he is working with EducationNC as a multimedia intern.