I’d like to start with a story from when I was a young whipper snapper. In 1975, I had the opportunity to consult on the installation of the automation of the Zil truck factory in Moscow in the Soviet Union. During the three months that I worked there, I had a chance to have many interesting discussions. One eye-opening thought was that from the point of view of the Soviet people that I met, one of the greatest strengths that the Untied States had was that we were a melting pot, that we had amalgamated the strengths from many different cultures. In other words, the U.S. had embraced diversity. That was very different from what they were accustomed to. They also thought that this made us a beautiful people. We should celebrate this.
Over the years, I have frequently written about why we should embrace diversity. We strive to attract young people to join our community. Using surveys, we have learned that one of the criteria for many young adults is that we welcome diversity. From an economic perspective, it makes no sense to limit the population that we welcome into our community.
Now, if you are still reading, the question is how do we embrace diversity.
First, remember that diversity is respecting everyone, no matter what they look like, what color they are, their relationship status, whether they’re with someone, what language they speak, how old they are, how much money they make, who they love or what they believe. That means we should accept people that don’t believe what we believe. That is not always easy.
The key to this is respect. Everyone is entitled to be respected unless their behavior says otherwise. Not believing like you do is not a reason to be disrespected.
In every religious belief, the concept of acting toward others as you wish them to act toward you can be found. It is a basic tenet of how to treat other human beings. This is the first step to embracing diversity. How do you want to be treated? Think about what signs and discussions you have around your club. How would you feel if the opposite were displayed instead? Your opinions are not the only ones that exist.
If you are trying to embrace other cultures, it is great to have cultural celebrations. But how about if you include foods that are respectful of other cultures on a regular basis. Does your regular menu include a vegetarian option? Or is there always a non-pork option?
If we are trying to attract the younger generation, try to reach out to them at a World Naked Bike Ride or on some of the public social media such as r/nudism on reddit.com or nuderevolution.com. Try Meetup.com. Be innovative. Ask someone who is young what activities would be appealing.
Shirley Mason, the mother of Haulover Beach, suggested that a good way to reduce the number of cliques and help newcomers feel welcome is to have “Food for Thought” meals. Have a potluck, and set a different discussion topic, such as music, book club, cars, etc., for each table.
Participants sit at the table that interests them and get to make new friends. Shirley has found this to be effective at Haulover Beach over the years.
On an individual basis, you probably don’t want to approach anyone and say “Boy it’s wonderful to see someone like you who is …”. Even if that is how you feel. Think about how awkward that might be. It’s always better to remember to treat everyone as an individual. Think how you would want to be approached. Try to figure out if they want to be in conversation and just be friendly.