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article imagePsychologist speaks on New Westminster multicultural project Special

By Gibril Koroma     Mar 29, 2011 in Lifestyle
New Westminster - The city of New Westminster in British Columbia is one of the most multicultural places in the province. Under the leadership of Wayne Wright, its dynamic and progressive mayor, many programs have been put in place to welcome new immigrants.
Vancouver resident Ben Kadel is involved in one of these programs. In this interview he tells us about himself, the program and the work being done:
Gibril Koroma: Who is Ben Kadel? Please introduce yourself to our readers.
Ben Kadel: I am a social psychologist who specializes in the emotional dynamics of work and work groups. I have spent the last 15 years or so figuring out what it takes to help people do work that is both personally fulfilling and materially successful. I am on a personal mission to convert all the energy that is currently wasted in fear, doubt, confusion and conflict into productive energy moving people towards goals that really matter. I have a PhD in sociology from the University of Wisconsin – Madison and am a founding partner of Emotus Operandi. In addition to being the director at Emotus Operandi, I’m a professional speaker and writer.
GK: How did you get involved in the Welcoming and Inclusive Community Project of New Westminster?
BK: I was invited to help the original group of stakeholders formulate a project charter for their work. A colleague of mine referred the project to me because she was aware of the work I do in helping work groups quickly uncover their shared passion and values around a project and then formulate a concrete action plan to convert vision into actual forward movement.
GK: What are the immediate and long term benefits of such a project for the people of New Westminster?
BK: In the short term, projects such as Changing City, Changing Minds provide people opportunities to get to know their neighbours. One thing I’ve discovered over the years is that everyone craves more contact with the people around them, but we are often afraid to make the first move or unsure of how to approach someone else. Usually, all people need is an excuse to talk to a stranger and pretty soon they will develop a friendship.
In the longer term, communities with lots of informal bonds among their members are stronger, safer, more resilient, and more successful. The kind of simple relationships that happen in healthy communities – saying hi to neighbours on the street, having casual conversations while waiting in line at the market – are actually incredibly powerful.
GK: Who are the people you have been working with?
BK: The Welcoming and Inclusive Community Project is a multi-stakeholder project with people from a variety of City of New Westminster departments, the school district, community agencies and organizations, and “normal” citizens who are volunteering their time because they are interested in the project. It’s a great group to work with – very friendly and very welcoming to each other.
GK: Please tell us about your company Emotus Operandi and the kind of services it offers.
BK: We formed Emotus Operandi to help people find that sweet spot where the work you do is personally fulfilling and provides real value to the people you serve. We like to paraphrase Fredrich Beuchner – the magic happens where your great joy meets the world’s great need. Doing this kind of work is very rewarding, but it can also be a real challenge. We provide structures and social support to help people clarify their vision and focus their energy on what really matters and then the on-going support you need to keep moving forward. People can check us out at emotusoperandi.com.
GK: Thank you.
BK: Thank you!
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