5 Ways I’m Working Within Community (My Examples and Resources)

I, Paul, have just moved out to the Coast Salish Territories of the Lekwungen peoples (a.k.a. Victoria, BC), and am thinking on the following 5 things as I build a life working within community:

  1. How to create a youth-led, multi-stakeholder cooperative business:
    The cooperative business model offers a way to do business that puts community–not profit–first, disperses power dynamics into non hierarchal structures, and offers some evidence-supported resiliency in the face of economic downturn. Millions of Canadians are already members and I think it’ll only grow in popularity, just think of Mountain Equipment Coop (MEC).
    There are a bunch of resources in Canada and specific provinces and territories that provide resources on cooperatives. They are really helpful, especially, if like me, you have no experience in business. They have start up guides, support pathways, examples, and ways to improve existing co-ops. Here are some places to start: www.coopscanada.coop/ and www.coopzone.coop/en   Sweet!
    A project named Worcester Roots Project has provided huge amounts of inspiration for youth-led and -focused cooperative business. Youth are being paid to do work that the community needs. Amazing! Check them and their shared resources out.
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  2. How to (almost) constantly redirect youth and their actions when we’ve all been brought up in an “imperialist, capitalistic, patriarchal, white supremacist society*”?
    I’m working and playing with youth in after school programs at my community association. We do a lot of amazing youth-led activities, such as preparing miso soup and pirogies from scratch, organizing and building halloween houses, needle felting, and outside games. It’s amazing work and I’m super privileged and grateful to be paid for it.
    Working with young youth, the majority of whom are presenting as white and identify as male, has been a really big learning curve…especially when watching bell hooks at home and working alongside two women that know how to educate in an inclusive and creative way. They are amazing role models.
    We are constantly thinking and re-thinking ways to re-direct acts of harm (actions ranging from not asking someone permission to touch them during play to kicking someone in the gut, and a whole platter of emotional games). Overall, we do a couple things:
    – Use practices, such as talking pieces** and group idea banks to create guidelines on sharing space and play things.
    – In efforts to create space to reflect on our actions, we draw comics on the board pertaining to certain issues in media or our space.
    – One-on-one check-ins with youth and listening while repeating details followed by open ended questions.
    – Acknowledge their individual and group accomplishments when it comes to following our group guidelines.
    – Modelling what it means and looks like to be caring, loving, supportive, and inclusive.
    – Talking with the youth about: patriarchy, capitalism, white supremacy, and imperialism.
  3. Creating jobs to work, hopefully alongside really awesome women of colour, to help deconstruct “imperialist, capitalistic, patriarchal, white supremacist society” that we currently live:Here’s a piece of the job application being created. I’m inspired by INCITE’s “Principles of Unity”.REQUIRED SKILLS AND EXPERIENCE
    • Experience with arts-based activity development and implementation
    • Experience facilitating intercultural youth programs with participants that range in race, sexuality, gender, spirituality, and class
    • Knowledge of and experience in dismantling the mainstream imperialist, capitalistic, patriarchal, white supremacist society
    • Alternative business models that focus on trade and gift economy (asset)
    • Building inclusive, diverse spaces for creating plans for community change
    • Supporting coalition building between local organizations that work for justice and equity
    • Recognizing and opposing all forms of harm which oppress women, transpeople, and gender non-conforming people of colour and our communities
    • Schedule flexibility to work evenings and maybe on some weekends
    • Standard First Aid and CPR
    • Clean criminal record check~~

    ~~Any advice or processes on working around existing criminal records? Any advice overall?

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  4. Centring and listening to the voices of the indigenous people so that I can learn how to support and restore relations with them and our shared environment.
    This is a process of building relationships for me. I have yet to attend a community event with and have met only a few folks whom identify as indigenous. Friends have invited me and I hope will continue to invite me to community events that celebrate indigenous culture and invite immigrants and settlers (such as myself) to learn and participate.Please pass along any connections that you think are appropriate.
    Indigenous Perspectives Society    is one that I know offers professional workshops for organizations looking to hire and work with indigenous folks.
  5. Applying what I’ve learned in permaculture and expanding my applicable knowledge so that it’s appropriate and accessible to everyone in my community.
    I still really enjoy and utilize permaculture in my life; creating youth curriculum, the way I build my relationship with myself and others, designing household layout, meeting my needs and keeping awareness of my place in the ecology of my surroundings.
    I’ve found that People Care, one of the three main ethics in permaculture, is applicable on a very accessible level through the practice and sharing of practices such as Non Violent Communication, self-care (e.g., meal prep, gardening, personal hygiene, self expression, etc.), and group sharing circles that open us up to the lessons learned from the experiences of others.
    Earth Care is super important and I’ve been inspired by The Coyotes Guide for activities that incorporate nature time and animal-based games, as well as self-reflection in fun ways. More ecology and gardening programming coming soon!
    Limit Our Use and Share Surpluses is an ethic that I’ve been thinking and acting on regarding my privilege. Still pondering on how to continue to create space for others to live while meeting my needs. Perhaps I’ll end with a quote that a friend back in Guelph shared with me. “If you were the first of everyone in the world in a buffet line how much would you take?”

* Check out bell hooks. She has books, youtube videos, and a museum.

** Talking pieces is an aspect of the Circle Process, which is a practice used by indigenous folks all over the world to share stories, celebrate, work through issues, and much more. I’ve been taught it by Jennifer Ball (thank you!), a student of Kay Pranis, for the purpose of helping to provide equal talking space and co-creation of group decisions.

Please check out, use, share, and connect with folks/organizations in this Victoria Community Asset Map (there’s a Guelph one, too, on the other sheet):

Thanks for reading and for working within your community,
-Paul

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One thought on “5 Ways I’m Working Within Community (My Examples and Resources)

  1. Best of luck in B.C. Paul and congratulations on your job! xo

    Working around criminal records, I would ask the stakeholders (parents?) how they feel about a) certain charges, some are obvious – ie. anything related to violence – some charges lie in a grey zone – ie. DUI, and b) time frame, how long ago people were charged/ convicted. That’s my two cents.

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