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KSRE Tuesday Letter

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K-State Research and Extension
123 Umberger Hall
Manhattan, KS 66506-3401

November 15, 2022

The Door Is Always Open

Submitted by Gregg Hadley

Have you ever moved to a new neighborhood and heard your new neighbor(s) say “The door is always open?"

Did you ever act on that opportunity and just walk right into their house? After all, they said their door was always open for you.

Let’s face it. Very few, if any, have taken our neighbors up on that offer. The open door policy is not very inviting, as you have no idea what happens through those doors. The new neighbors are more strangers than trusted friends.

Nevertheless, I bet that you did enter through those doors once you got to know each other better through more “across the fence” conversations with your neighbors and only when you were invited. When you were invited to their house for a meal or some sort of gathering, I bet you were probably treated to things they knew you liked based upon their earlier conversations with you. It is what good neighbors do.

We often say that we treat all learners the same in extension and that our door is always open for whoever wants to engage in our programs. However, in her presentation at our annual conference, Dr. Be Stoney indicated that “treating everyone the same may be unintentionally oppressive.”

While the door is always open for our learners -- the established culture which determines how we treat everyone the same -- was determined by all those who walked through those doors before. So, is our open-door policy really inviting, or is it actually intimidating and foreign to those with little familiarity with what goes on through those open doors?

To put it in our new neighbor context, let’s be good neighbors to our new learners and new audiences. Let’s take the time to find out more about them so we can tweak our programming and events to be more inviting to and impactful for them.

It is what good neighbors do.