The Power of Collectives

Before I tell what I'm thinking about, I should probably tell you a little bit about who I am. I'm the Community Connector at STOPS to Violence and my name is Elisabeth Girard. I've started my journey with the organization about four months ago. Specifically I was hired on for our 5 year Collective Impact Project addressing Gender-Based Violence in Saskatchewan. Before that, I was a student intern working in green energy. Before that, I was a very exhausted university student at First Nations University of Canada.

The project we're doing is essentially a test-run of using a Collective Impact approach in Saskatchewan, which we hope will best utilize the unique networks of community in our province. Our targeted issue for the next 5 years is GBV, beyond that... who knows where it might take us!

Collective Impact (CI) is a methodology that has five basic ingredients, formally known as the Five Conditions: A Common Agenda, Shared Measurement, Mutually Reinforcing Activities, Continuous Communication, and the support of a Backbone Organization. We can dig deeper into those another time.

The "collective" part of Collective Impact is what I want to think more deeply about today. One of the reasons that I felt particularly drawn to this project and to CI was the recognition of human relationships and our collective capacity to do incredible things.

"Tackling community change requires a mindset that working collaboratively is more productive than trying to address the challenge as a single organization or entity." - Liz Weaver, Tamarack Institute

When we think and act with a collective lens, really wonderful things can happen. Collectivity is necessary for the healing process, whether its within a family, a local community, a province, or a nation. For my people, the Michif and Nehiyaw, a ceremony can only happen when people come together. One person working alone can't chop the wood, make the soup, build the lodge, load the pipes, and gather the people. If any healing is to occur, there must always be at least two or more
who agree on what must get done. If resources are tight, we pool everything we have together and find a way to make it work. The wisdom and willingness of the collective is all that is necessary.

I hope to take that teaching forward with me in this work. It never ceases to amaze me what a small collective of people can achieve.... Have you been inspired (yet) by the power of collectivity?

If you want to learn more about Collective Impact and the Tamarack Institute, please check out their website here!

A sore leg and Gender Based Analysis

Firstly, let me introduce myself - Tracy Knutson, Executive Director of STOPS to Violence. Over the coming months, we will be upping our efforts to get to know you and to offer more insight into the who's who at STOPS.

This week, I have a story I want to share. I was at one of the local hospitals for a 'procedure' - a pretty typical treatment for a long term (non gendered) sports injury kind of thing. When the procedure was done, the very kind and helpful staff came to check on me and handed me my discharge instructions, which I promptly stuffed in my bag. When I got home, I was reading them and one particular part jumped out at me: 'You may do light work such as cooking or washing dishes. Vacuuming is not light work.'. Ummm.... Ok?

This got me thinking. Either they have a different set of instructions they give to female identified and male identified people - and they just happened to assess that I should get the female identified one or they buy in to the idea of the 'man flu' that assumes that males do not have the same tolerance for discomfort as females, and therefore would just lay on the couch and do not need to be instructed to do so post procedure.

Gender stereotypes at work? I think so.

At STOPS, we have been digging into a tool called Gender Based Analysis (GBA+) and learning more about gender, intersectionality and how people experience systems, programs and policies very differently based on who they are. GBA+ helps us recognize and move beyond our assumptions, uncover the realities of people's lives, and find ways to address their needs. But we can only know if a group is affected differently if we explore it using GBA+. Incorrect assumptions can lead to unintended and unequal impacts on particular groups of people. Click here to learn more about this valuable tool.

And haha on the hospital folks - the last things on my list on any given day are cooking, washing dishes or vacuuming. But thanks for the warning!


All the best to you for your week,
Tracy Knutson, Executive Director.