Equity & Inclusion in Co-ops Year in Review

| Equity and Inclusion

A lot has happened this year, as you can see in the graphic highlighting the offerings that were co-designed, co-facilitated, and co-produced by Zanna, Litzy, and me. Taking it a layer deeper, I wanted to explore the year through contemplative reflection questions from Ekta (@journeywithcompassion on Insta). With this, a seed is being planted towards what I’m hoping will be a shared reflective practice this coming year.

What did you cultivate that you are proud of?

What I am proud of from the past year are the rich relationships that we formed, nourished, and experienced joy within. These are relationships that I hold with respect and reverence and I delight in the ways that I feel their presence in a liminal space even when time together is limited. I am grateful for the trust that has been mutually shared to enter into difficult conversations and to hold space for tension. Even though we’re all working in different places and contexts, it gives me hope and internal peace to know that there is a group of folks holding this space, intention, and solidarity in dreaming a new co-operative world that is equitable and just into reality.

Co-designing and co-facilitating the equity & inclusion in co-ops work with Zanna and Litzy has been an antidote to the weight of this work. With a triad, the ideas that are brought to life emerge from a generative, well-considered place (there are three minds and hearts evaluating each possibility). In the individualistic mindset of the dominant culture, this might be seen as inefficient, a waste of resources, and duplicating work. What I have witnessed in experiencing this is that we hold resilience because more than one person knows what is happening and can step in as needed and perhaps, most importantly, we hold collective responsibility about how we are working together – checking in regularly, considering wholistic wellness, and supporting each other’s process in terms of skill and knowledge building.

What are you celebrating?

So much! Amidst the heaviness, challenges, and frustrations in this work, there was also a lot of joy. Co-creating the video series was a fun learning process – huge thank you’s to (from top to bottom in the photo montage) Vancity, Multicultural Health Brokers, City in Colour / Solid State, and Andy Holt for sharing this journey with us. It felt fantastic to amplify the incredible equity and inclusion work that each of these co-ops is engaging in. The best thing is that these educational videos live on to be woven into onboarding, team building, and learning practices throughout the co-op ecosystem. (You can find them on BCCA’s YouTube channel).

What are you mourning?

This question immediately elicits a deep grief around the sustained occupation and attempted erasure of Palestinians in Gaza…the silencing of voices trying to name what is happening. In our equity and inclusion in co-ops work, a consistent thread has been the importance of shared analysis and examination of intersectional power dynamics. We are looking at this at an organizational level, however it is interconnected with how this impacts us personally (in body, mind, and spirit) and in community both near and far. In the big context of #FreePalestine and the closer context of equity and inclusion in co-ops, Fannie Lou Hamer’s statement that “Nobody’s free until everybody’s free” rings true today, just as it did in 1971. Considering this in fractals or nested systems, we need equity and justice within ourselves, our close communities, our workplaces, and more distant communities. We need to be engaging in this work at all levels, which can be draining and exhausting, something that I am feeling in this moment.

As this year winds down, I am hearing general, cross-sector, murmurings of funding cuts, which means reduced budget to support equity and inclusion work, which means fewer people, which means more structural pressure to be doing this work alone or to be distracted from this work. I guess I wanted to wrap up by saying I see you, I see the heart and soul that you put into this work, and as much as it seems like the work is not valued, it is so needed. Find one or two (or more) people to share the weight of this work (which might be found outside of work), as well as the connectedness that sustains us – the spaces where our voices are heard. Resist the pull to individualism, feel the grief, and keep collective care alive.

As we move through winter solstice and into a seasonal office closure, I’m recognizing rest and the pace and privilege that allows for it, as well as the space to be, reflect, and replenish with friends and family (and lots of snow, I hope).

Wishing each of you what is needed at this time and in this place, Michelle