Changing the Water Cooler Conversation

There’s an old phrase called “the water cooler conversation.” It originally referred to the spot where employees chat when they’re on break. It became more broadly associated with taking the pulse of popular topics: news, recent events, and global conditions. It was the pre-digital source of “what’s trending.” I can imagine Clark Kent pausing by the water cooler at the Metropolis newspaper to hear his coworkers talk about the most recent Superman victory.

In our current digital world, the water cooler has been replaced by social media platforms and search engines. With a simple hashtag search, we can take the pulse of our community, state, nation, or even world. Beyond news items, often it’s something unexpected or bizarre that captures our collective attention and “goes viral.” 

Who among us is crazy enough to think about how to change this collective conversation? Beyond short-term, viral trends, how do we really change the pulse of our nation? Especially in the areas of diversity, equity, and inclusion, there is a growing wave of change seeking to do exactly this. In an organization like Hero Nation, we are counting on it and doing our part to fan the winds of change.

Specifically, we are dedicated to expanding the platform for artists creating content that is inclusive and representative of our most marginalized populations. We know that the moment a child sees a superhero who is like them, something very significant happens. The seed of belief is planted. Hero Nation wants to be the one who provides both sunlight and water to all those seeds. We know that even the tiniest belief can grow into a child seeing a future that is bright and ripe with possibility. They come to know that they, too, can become a hero. 

The more we see BIPOC and LGBTQ+ people in all places, both on our screens and in our communities, the less our world is shaped through the life experiences of white cis men. Then a magnificent tapestry of all our colors, genders, orientations, and identities will emerge. It’s in these rich complexities that stories and art emerge. Our artists have the privilege of interpreting the tapestry, and I feel such expansive hope thinking about the beautiful world that we’ll get to live in when this happens. This is what fuels me as a mom. This is what fuels me as the Board Chair of Hero Nation. 

To be part of this change is a deep honor. I’ve seen the faces of the kids we serve. I’ve witnessed the seeds begin to grow. I’ve seen boys grow into men who become the hero our world needs. After all, this is exactly who our founder, Jermaine Dickerson, truly is. He created Hero Nation to inspire kids to become the hero they need, and by doing so, created the hero he needed in this world.

Shoulders back. Capes on. We’ve got more work to do!

Julie Palmer

Julie Palmer

Hero Nation Board President

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