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Inclusion and Exclusion: Personal Narratives of Community Membership

According to the 2010 Census, New Brunswick has a population of 55,181 residents. The median household income is $44,500 and 25% of the population lives below the poverty line. These numbers, however, do not tell us much about the vibrant people, diverse heritages, and wide range of backgrounds that define the residents of the city.  Communities vary in meaning depending on their location and how they are organized politically, socially, and economically. In addition, within a single location, community can mean multiple things to residents based on their differing perspectives. Although community often refers to shared beliefs, values, and goals that bring residents together in fellowship, the reality is more complicated. Communities contain a variety of people from various backgrounds, which can create friction and can lead to the exclusion of individuals.  When diversity allows forms of political, social and economic homology, a more progressive and riveting community emerges.  In common, however, a community consists of a host of people who make up one populace.  

This project seeks to trace the different communities that exist within the city of New Brunswick.  Some locations were spots where people generally came together to socialize, hangout and eat with friends.  Now, there are also spots where the city of New Brunswick bands together to help the other members of the community when they need it most, around matters of collective concern, such as providing healthier food options.  Other locations represent spots where the academic community of Rutgers met with non-university affiliated members of the New Brunswick community to discuss matters of concern to both constituencies. This project also addresses what happens when an individual is excluded from the larger community due to race. Exclusion can be a traumatic phenomena related to communities, and can leave members confined to the margins of a society.  For some individuals, exclusion trends within the city inspires a desire to speak out and strive for equality.  For other individuals, workplace and other forms of discrimination can create a somewhat sour opinion of the community as a whole.

We welcome you to trace the city of New Brunswick through the framework of how processes of inclusion and exclusion shape a community.  

AUDIO: Teresa Vivar speaks about community engagement and culture