Thursday, October 1, 2009

Unexpected Family Time Courtesy of Orlando Health

Dear Reader,

On the flight home the other night from my weekend in Orlando actively engaging supporters and dissenters of the petition that is encouraging Orlando Health to be more culturally competent, I couldn't help but think of the inadvertent outcome of my trip.

I was not planning a trip to Orlando so soon after moving to New York. I was not planning on using the buddy passes my best friend had put aside for me to go spend a day sweating my butt of looking like a freak outside my old job - those passes were supposed to take me to Puerto Rico or Aruba - somewhere away from my school and activist work. Then again, I never planned on working in a city for ten years where the topic of diversity/multiculturalism is so downplayed in importance by many companies and individuals.

As I stared out the plane window and started digesting the past year plus that led to this activity, I breathed a sign of relief that I was heading home - to my new home where discussions about diversity/multiculturalism are vibrant, active and ongoing. I started to appreciate the openness of the dialogue here in New York City and at New York University. It is a great feeling to know I can walk into NYU's Center for Multicultural Education and Programing or into any of my classes and discuss this ongoing work with people who understand exactly why I am doing what I am doing to prod along Orlando Health to a more vibrant future of its own.

But, a thank you of sorts goes out to Orlando Health for not being as inclusive as it needs to be - because had the organization been doing the right thing all along, I would have had no reason to go back to Orlando so soon and therefore, I would not have been able to experience...
  • The conversation I had with my nephew about his first months in high school and what his plans are for his future.
  • The time I spent with my oldest niece working with her on homework - defining for herself what the Declaration of Independence means.
  • Listening to my second youngest niece tell me about how softball is going.
  • Jumping in the trampoline with the two youngest nieces and popping them like popcorn.
  • Singing with my youngest niece as I drove her to school. (My favorite part of this experience is when we played the humming game and she hummed the melody to Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star three times. As it turns out, she knows three different sets of lyrics that use the same melody. To her, each time she was humming the song for me to guess what it was, she was humming a different song all together.)
  • The meaningful and funny conversations I had with my sister and brother-in-law.
  • Having brunch with my friends - some of whom are team members at Orlando Health.
So, yes thank you Orlando Health for dragging your feet towards the change you will be forced to make as the momentum for the petition and proposal we presented to you gains traction. The silly part of all this is - the longer Orlando Health waits to do the right thing, the more time they will give me with my family and in the end - I won't be the one looking bad for pushing so hard for this billion dollar + a year organization to fall in line with other business leaders in Central Florida. Orlando Health - the longer you wait the more positive memories you give me and the worse you look.

Parting questions (please post your thoughts)...

Why do Central Floridians or anyone traveling to the Orlando area put up with companies like Orlando Health not embracing the version of cultural competence companies like Walt Disney World, SeaWorld, AT&T, IBM, Universal Orlando, etc., etc., etc. embrace?

Why is it multi-market or multi-national companies that do business in Central Florida (like those listed above) are more inclusive than the companies without any out of market controls?

Why is Orlando Health not open to team members forming affinity groups to discuss diversity/multiculturalism and its impact on the mission of Orlando Health?

Thanks for reading.

Alan L. Bounville

PS The video footage from this past weekend is being edited and a recap video to share with others will be available very soon. Also, the next phase of this movement will also be announced upon release of the video. Keep getting signatures on the petition.