Learn More About the Wheel of Belonging

The Wheel of Belonging framework was guided by a series of conversations hosted by Storycraft Lab and Google Xi, which collected a diversity of participant voices on what Belonging means to them.

From these conversations we distilled 8 distinct pathways to belonging that experience creators can use to design intentional experiences.

To learn more, Download “Building Belonging”, a WonderPaper that shares discoveries that emerged through this exploratory work, including a deep dive into the 8 pathways. What does Belonging mean to different people? Where is there congruence, and difference? How can we understand the different journeys to Belonging, and use this understanding to design intentionally for the audiences we serve?



Contribute to
The Wheel of Belonging

We want to hear from you! Share what Belonging means to you through a written quote or by recording a quick video/voice response. What makes an experience Meaningful? Captures and connects through emotion? When you think of ‘event Magic’ – what comes to mind?

Help co-create our discovery on how we can better understand key aspects in our collective and individual experience of belonging. Share your insights to join the community of brilliant minds that have contributed to the ongoing development of the Wheel of Belonging.

Your insights will be used to help inform the Wheel of Belonging Framework and deepen our understanding on how we can help design more intentional experiences. Your responses & quotes will not be shared without explicit permission. 

Share your perspective on Belonging! Click the link below to record a video/ voice recording or submit a written response.


Apply learnings from The Wheel of Belonging

We want to hear from you! Share an idea for how you can build Belonging in your events by recording a quick video/voice response. How might you make an experience Meaningful? One that captures and connects through emotion? How can you design for moments of ‘event Magic’?

Help co-create our discovery on how we can better understand key aspects in our collective and individual experience of belonging. Share your insights to join the community of brilliant minds that have contributed to the ongoing development of the Wheel of Belonging.

Your insights will be used to help inform the Wheel of Belonging Framework and deepen our understanding on how we can help design more intentional experiences. Your responses & quotes will not be shared without explicit permission.

Share your perspective on Belonging! Click the link below to record a video/ voice recording or submit a written response.

Wheel of Belonging

This framework connects the dots from meaning to feeling and magic, with insights on how we craft belonging at the experiences we build.

Hover to magnify & discover insights on Belonging


Elizabeth Sage


“People are looking for inspiration in different places than before. It has shifted from those big keynotes to thinking more about how this really relates to me. What value or purpose does this serve in my life? It’s more about connecting with each other now rather than just sitting and listening.”

Kimberly Leary

Destination Toronto

“We need to help our audience tie why they are there and educate them from the end perspective. People need to be heard and for their opinions to be valued. We need to continue to ask questions. What can we do to be better next year? These types of questions make me feel understood, like I’m helping to transform, and excited about the next year.”

Dan Shuman

Marriott International

“How do we highlight the things in life that are truly important, because that is what people are going to have emotional connections to. At the end of the day, if we can change people’s lives, that’s what’s most important, not filling hotel rooms. We need to leverage our platform and partnerships in service of this.”

Naomi Raquel Enright

Author, Strength of Soul

“My training with the National SEED Project was an intense week of delving deeply into the connection between stories and systems. There was a lot of self-examination, reflecting on my place in the systems in which I exist. It was very meaningful in understanding that I am not separate from the historical context. I am not separate from the current context, specifically vis-à-vis oppression, power and privilege. It was a transformative experience for me. I felt like it completely changed my life and my self-perception, as well as my outlook.”

Melanie Reid

Event Strategist

“You may start with a certain feeling within an experience, but what do we want to do with that and how will we get you to the next step? They’re feeling inspired? Great. Don’t just feel it, do something about it.”

Amit Kataby

Facilitator, Coach, Speaker

“What are you committed to in your gatherings? I am committed to my participants, for them to have the opportunity to be engaged, feel valued, and connect with one another. At the discussion groups we hold, we bring it to life by having discussion guidelines that help us equalize the discussion and connect to one another by finding our commonalities without the noise of focusing on our differences. I’m committed that my participant will experience something on a deeper level and will move from passive to active mode. And I will find ways to do so, every time.”

Liz Lathan

The Community Factory

“There’s a difference between a participant and an attendee: the ACTIVE component. Sadly, 90% of conferences only have attendees, but we can design it better to drive more participants.”


Julie Lynch


“During an experience, you scan the room for who do you know or who am I going to be able to stand next to and feel comfortable? Having those people nearby, we feel more comfortable with expressing our thoughts and opinions, being ourselves. There are so many times we go into a group and don’t truly feel seen or heard. Having those people who understand your feelings to me is when you can create experiences where you break down walls and barriers. This creates an amazing sense of belonging where people want to keep going back and meeting those people again.”


Jordan Valdez


“We need to foster spaces where we feel safe to be authentic to ourselves. Can you belong if you are pretending to be someone else?”


Bret Freedman

National Geographic Society

“I don’t automatically feel comfortable, my guard goes up the minute I’m in a place full of people I don’t know. It is very brave to go to something new and different and requires hyping up. So when magic happens and It feels really good, anxiety disappears. And I don’t overthink whether I said the right thing or did the right thing or if people are staring at me.”


Alisha Wenc

Center for Cyber Safety and Education

“Belonging is taking inclusion a step further. Inclusion is inviting someone to join you and belonging is taking into account what they need or want in the situation. We need to create events that speak to the participants and listen to what would bring them together.”


Erika Speed


“Belonging feels like a place where you feel accepted holistically, as you are, with no necessity to code-switch. There is no inner shame felt because you are different. You feel the freedom and safety to show up as your most authentic self, and that there is a welcome seat at the table for you.”


Erika Speed


“People need space to share things, a community. At the beginning of the event, we co-created rules of engagement with attendees to ensure that there would be latitude for vulnerability. It was beautifully done and executed. For those events where you want to really encourage belonging and safety, it’s important to have those kinds of guidelines to help ground the experience.”


Michiel Van Eunen

WXO – World Experience Organization, Living Story

“One of the things that we’ll start with is an epic story or narrative, because that gets the juices going on creativity. Then we start with the game design. An epic story immediately gives meaning to the player because it defines where you are going and who you are in the story. It needs to be appealing. You could have a hero’s journey or all kinds of stories where you need to achieve something, either alone or together.”


Usha Chazhiyat


“Research shows us that personalized journeys allow discovery and exploration within the learning experience. By providing an inclusive variety of pathways tailored to learning and social preferences, we ask customers to participate in creating their own customized learning journey. This participatory approach increases excitement, engagement and efficacy in the experiences we deliver.”


Justin Boone

Untitled Future

“There is magic in discovery. The recipe I look for in creating magical experiences is that sense of universality in the work. Where it is inclusive of virtually anyone, and anyone can take something from it.”


Jenn Artura

CHIEF, Jenn Artura Consulting LLC.

“It’s not just that one moment, but belonging is wanting to keep coming back to that experience and meaning with others. Remembering and continuing that connection. Belonging is something that is sustained and ongoing.”


Paul Coulter

Priority Concepts Group

“Magical experiences involve taking and removing yourself out of your mundane environment and putting yourself in an environment that opens you up to consider other things. We need to bring people together in that type of space.”


Allie Magyar

Dynamic Events

“When you contribute and co-create, you feel like you are part of the event and present. We need to foster that ability to bring yourself fully to an experience and contribute”


Ashley Brueck

Corporate Event Professional

“It is powerful knowing that other people in the room 100% shared that experience and that it touched them the same way. It’s important that we let people bond and have that connection.”


Carter Parrish


“We created something and the magic came after. We had no idea what the plan was. We knew what we wanted to do, but we had no idea what it would turn into.”


Amit Kataby

Facilitator, Coach, Speaker

“When we talk about belonging, I now understand it is something we must create when we plan and execute. It is an environment to foster. The turning point in my career was when I shifted the focus from logistics and grand gestures to the participants. They are the event. The main question I ask myself when I plan is – how do I make my guests feel like they had an experience of belonging and connection?”


A pathway of action / ignition.

On this ladder the attendee begins with seeking dialogue with like minds, and through a process of knowledge exchange they become inspired, uniquely understood  – “these are my people! They really get me! I love how they think!” – and are ultimately empowered to act and spark action as a result of the tribe’s affirmation.


A pathway of intention.

Here people begin in a Reflective state, seeking clarity through knowledge-driven discovery. They continue with synthesis, knowledge acquisition and reflection until they reach a point of clarity, after which they become advocates for meaning and reach Belonging as a result of a Purpose-full energy where they can contribute and receive from a community of knowledge and practice.


A pathway of happiness.

Starting from a passive role as viewer, this journey to belonging sits on the cusp of meaning and feeling. It is sparked by a curiosity that enables the attendee to grow in confidence through controlled experimentation to participate and encounter a new degree of creativity that sparks joy and happiness, and Belonging through a feeling of “this is where I am meant to be”.

A pathway of acceptance.

The lowest rung – or entry state – on this ladder is Fear. The attendee moves from a feeling of Fear, to Safety, to Trust, then Expression and ultimately a feeling that they are to exist, as they are, successfully within a group or experience.

A pathway of recognition.

This pathway begins with an invitation, and from here our experience design must support the audience to enable feelings of acceptance, recognition, consideration, value and appreciation. This manifests in the knowledge that the experience would not be the same without them.

A pathway of self-actualization.

This pathway sits at the intersection of Feeling and Magic, and its beginning state is one of Expectancy or hope. On this pathway the attendee brings a desire to innovate or change, and encounters Community support through the work of vulnerability, risk and release opening up space for change. The ultimate destination is a changed state – being able to operate openly without masking. 

Pathways of connection.

Here we found three ladders that can lead to a state of universality, and these vary according to scale of shared experience.The first pathway is more solitary, moving from a condition of individual discovery to heightened sense of agency, to introspection and reflection, at which point they begin to externalize and connect to a universal dialogue. The second pathway is based on one to one or one to few interactions. Beginning from a state of open-heartedness and a desire to find commonality, this pathway uses serendipity to make unexpected interactions that generate intersectional connections. “Imagine that in this big world, we found each other and we share the same….” The third pathway begins with a desire for a shared experience and through acts of co-creation, the individual increases self-awareness through a reciprocity loop with others. As their sentience increases they see themselves and their impact within and upon the universe magnified.

A pathway of transformation.

This pathway sits on the cusp of magic and meaning, and begins with the attendee feeling interested in the daily relevance that an event or experience might offer. On this ladder they move toward transformed mental models as a result of re-framing and re-setting to break away from the ordinary to discover through conversation, reflection and revelation.







Motivationto Create