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!