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What does Closing the Distance mean?

Society looks something like the picture on the left - a more privileged elite in the upper triangle separated economically, socially, culturally and politically by a group in the middle from the poor and marginalized in the lower inverted triangle. If anything, wealth and income studies show that the upper triangle is becoming more distant from the middle and lower sections and more people are falling out of the middle into the bottom triangle.

Status Quo Bringing Into the Center

One way to think about social and economic inclusion could be portrayed by the picture above right. Some see social and economic inclusion as targeting efforts and resources toward helping more people in the lower inverted triangle cross over the boundary into the middle. This approach demands little change on the middle and upper elements of society, except to make more room in the middle for the previously excluded.

But, social and economic inclusion is more than just about bringing more people now excluded into the centre or middle of society. Our notion of "closing the distance" means supporting those now excluded to move out of the margins and become part of society. It also means, however, that there is movement in the "upper reaches" of society to change structures, policies, and systems that support privilege and exclusion and that keep different parts of the community at a distance from each other. Closing the distance demands change from the top as well.

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"Closing the Distance"

Actually, a truly inclusive society would be re-shaped in a way that would minimize hierarchical relationships and boundaries and create a stronger sense of a universal commitment to the social well-being of everyone, as suggested in this last graphic.

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Re-shaping society for the benefit of all

In this kind of society diversity would not suggest distance but the recognition of the value and dignity of all and the contributions of all to shape and sustain a healthy and prosperous population.

© Social Planning Network of Ontario