Hexagon UX Bay Area Event. Photography by George Komoto

Harnessing the Power of Community

Drawing inspiration from Rosa Parks’ story, we dive deeper to understand the power and benefits of community.

Julia Meriel
· 6 min read

This piece is co-authored by Julia Meriel and Fiona Yeung

Hexagon UX is a global organization dedicated to supporting the careers of women and non-binary folks in the user experience (UX) space. Chapters around the world host events, mentorship programs, and members support each other through both personal and professional journeys. At the core, we are a community.

Select photos from Hexagon UX events. Photography (left) George Komoto, (right) Meghan Yabsley

What is a Community?

By definition, community is: a feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals (source).

At Hexagon, our goal is to help close the gender gap, grow leaders in UX, and empower and support our community to go after their dreams. By building this community and supporting people like you —yes, you, reading this— we believe we will get there.

The success of every woman should be the inspiration to another. We should raise each other up. Make sure you’re very courageous: be strong, be extremely kind, and above all be humble.

— Serena Williams

In trying moments through our professional journeys, we may carry emotions that make it feel tough to move forward. With a community providing support, each of us can be better equipped and more empowered to face and overcome challenges. When we see others with similar stories or look like us, we feel more validated, understood, and we become more open to ask for help and guidance. Visibility and representation matter.

As we near the end of February, specifically Black History Month, we want to highlight the story of Rosa Parks to inspire conversations around the power of community and cultivate a spirit you can take along on your own journey.

Inspiration: Rosa Parks

In 1955, Rosa Parks’ refusal to give up her seat on a Montgomery bus led to the banning of segregation on public transport.

Rosa Parks on a bus, smiling. (HistoryExtra)

Three young women before her —Claudette Colvin, Viola Desmond, and Mary Louise Smith— had also refused to give up their seats on the bus. Though their arrests outraged the community, these instances did not lead to the historical civil rights movement that we know today.

In Parks’ circumstance, however, having ties across her community and their support ignited the civil rights movement (source).

Black commuters walking long distances to work during the boycott, 1956. (Amistad Resource)

Parks was dedicated to the work of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). Through NAACP, she connected with a number of individuals and groups who put forth the collective effort that led to a 381-day bus boycott.

In this story, amongst the power of belief, justice, and perseverance, the power of community is evident.

As a young female activist, Parks was inspired by Septima Clark — someone she had come to work with as a result of discussing her work with NAACP. Clark became a role model and a mentor for Parks as they were both female activists.

Down the line, Jo Ann Robinson, leader of The Women’s Political Council, who didn’t know Parks directly, pushed for the boycott among hearing about Parks’ arrest because of the strong sense of community she felt with Fred Gray, whom Parks mentored through NAACP.

The community Parks had behind her was foundational to the impact of the bravery she showed. In her words,

“What really matters is not whether we have problems, but we go through them. We must keep going on to make it through whatever we are facing.” — Rosa Parks

The Benefits of a Community

Today, we not only have the privilege of learning from stories like Rosa Parks’, but also the choice to be better because of it. We also have the opportunity to harness the power of our own communities and rally together for what we believe is right.

5 Key Benefits of Being a Part of a Community

  1. Collective brainpower: Joining a community with like-minded people allows us to share insights from our individual experiences. We all have something to add to the story. Together, we can learn from each other and strive for more.
  2. Build meaningful relationships: The relationships we create in our community can become a lifelong one; whether it’s a mentor and mentee relationship, or a new friendship forged with someone who went through the same career transition.
  3. Feeling validated: When we feel understood and seen, it’s easier to trust, give ourselves permission to be vulnerable, and ask for the help and support needed to grow.
  4. Belonging: Do not underestimate the power of belonging. When we feel that we’re part of something bigger than ourselves, we’re more likely to be collaborative and creative. We’re able to take bigger steps towards a unified goal.
  5. Opportunities: When the right connections are made, not only do we have a support system, we allow ourselves to open doors to opportunities we might not have otherwise.

Alone, we can do so little; together, we can do so much

—Helen Keller

Select photos from Hexagon UX events. Photography by Meghan Yabsley.

Hexagon Community Resources:

At Hexagon, whether you’re balancing motherhood and a career, are in need of mentorship, trying to transition into UX, or are looking for a job, we‘re here to support you.

Join us on Slack and take a look at what a few of our channels can offer:

  • ✨ If you’re one of the supermoms we marvel at and want to meet others from Hexagon who are soon-to-be mothers, or are mothers, visit our #motherhood channel.
  • 🤲🏼 If you’re looking for mentorship, post a comment on this article and we’ll get in touch. You can also peek at our #mentorship channel. 😊
  • 🌎 If you’re transitioning into the UX world, check out the conversations in the #transition-into-ux channel to draw on the experiences of Hexagon members.
  • 💼 If you’re looking for a job or internship, join our #jobs channel to see what’s out there.

Where have you seen the power of community manifest? Share with us your story or an experience that has inspired you.


References
- The Power of Habit, Charles Duhigg
- Montgomery bus boycott, Britannica
- How Change Happens: The Real Story of Mrs. Rosa Parks & The Montgomery Bus Boycott, Huffington Post

Special thanks to Fiona Yeung and Bonne Marie Bautista for editorial guidance. Interested in writing for Hexagon on Medium? Post a comment on this article and we’ll be in touch.

Hexagon UX is a global community built to empower women and non-binary folks to bring their whole selves to work — building confidence, balancing the ratio in the UX industry, and effecting change on a greater scale while fostering personal and professional growth. Join us on Slack, where we will be continuing the conversation.

Hexagon UX

A global 501(c)(3) non-profit community built to empower women and non-binary folks to bring their whole selves to work — building confidence, balancing the ratio in the UX industry, and effecting change on a greater scale while fostering personal and professional growth.

Julia Meriel

Written by

User Researcher and sometimes-writer swinging through the jungle gym of life. Intrigued by design, research, history, culture, and new ideas.

Hexagon UX

A global 501(c)(3) non-profit community built to empower women and non-binary folks to bring their whole selves to work — building confidence, balancing the ratio in the UX industry, and effecting change on a greater scale while fostering personal and professional growth.