Culturally Intelligent Communities
What are “Culturally Intelligent Communities?” What in the world are you talking about? Well, let me explain, starting with some definitions.
Culturally – an adjective that describes things related to culture. But what is culture? Culture is the characteristics and knowledge of a particular group of people, including language, religion, food, social habits (customs) and behaviors, music and arts, achievements. The group can be a specific nation, people, or other social group, including different generations within a people group.
Intelligent – also an adjective describing our ability to learn and grow. Multiple Intelligence theory (see Garnder and others) says each of us has different ways we are intelligent or gifted: rationally (use of words), physically, artistically, relating to people, understanding nature, etc.
Putting those two words together, then, Cultural Intelligence (CQ) is the capability to relate and work effectively in culturally diverse situations.
Communities – The people we are in contact with – our family, neighborhoods, churches and other religious organizations, schools, who we see at stores, etc.
So…. A Culturally Intelligent Community is one where the people have the capability to relate to one another effectively, no matter how diverse it is.
Why do we need CQ (Cultural Intelligence)? John Stonestreet and Brett Kunkle have said, “The modern world is filled with strife between people groups, from the streets of Palestine to the tensions between North and South Korea to the conflict between the Kurds and the Turks. In the recent past, racial conflict in Rwanda, Bosnia, and Darfur (Sudan) resulted in unspeakable violence and genocide. Chechnya. France. India. Sri Lanka. Russia. Bolivia. Belgium. Great Britain. Racial strife is found in nearly every country on earth.” And that is just racial tension!
We also struggle with generational differences, religious tensions, gender issues, and the clamor in politics (in the West) is deafening! People are critical of anyone who does not agree with them. If you are not FOR me, you MUST be against me!
Here is a little secret: We live in a diverse world. And yet, for some reason, we expect everyone to think the same way, act the same way, live the same way. And we are taken by surprise when “others” DON’T. And then we feel threatened by those who think differently.
And yet, hasn’t it been when I have been challenged that I grow? That I am forced to think about something differently that my world expands even a little? That when I learn the feelings of the other person, that I grow in empathy?
Why can’t we build communities that use our diversity for strength? Why not recognize that when we are working together, we grow personally and as a community to become stronger?
That, my friends, is what Culturally Intelligent Communities is all about.
 Stonestreet, J. & Kunkle, B. (2017). A Practical Guide to Culture: Helping the Next Generation Navigate Today’s World. (pp. 279-280). Colorado Springs, CO: David C. Cook.