When Blair and I started this project, there was one thing we were certain of – we are designers and we aren’t experts in the settlement sector. We designed this project to be iterative and continuously learning. We have been grateful to get to learn from others and are looking forward to sharing our learning.
Before I went on mat leave at the end of August, it was my goal to wear my baby and to keep working. By the end of September we were ready to get back out into the world. In a few short months we have been to a variety of workshops and conferences to connect and share The Stories of Us. The feedback has been amazing.
First off, if you’re curious, bringing a baby to events has been met with a variety of different responses from overwhelming welcoming open arms to concern that his cuteness would be “too distracting” (the facilitator’s words, not mine). So I’ve learned to just bring him, to work with his schedule and personality. He’s pretty good at hunkering down to sleep and nursing while out and about for the most part which has let me participate probably up to 75% of my normal capacity. It also helps when Auntie Mathura is around to help entertain him.
The logistics of bringing a baby hasn’t stopped us from making some pretty awesome connections.
Here’s a list of events we’ve been to:
- Future Cities Summit by Evergreen Brickworks
- Durham Innovation Conference by Durham Region Social Services
- Evaluation Learn Lab by Sustainability Lab
- Framework for Acting under Uncertainty and Chaos Training
- Being an Active Leader training by the Toronto South Local Immigration Partnership
- Language Policy Hackathon by MCIS
Each of these events offered something different, some better than others of course, but they gave me something to chew on and a different way of thinking about various aspects of The Stories of Us. It also helped me recognize how much opportunity there is for learning to happen within the settlement sector.
This gave us an idea. We’re going to host a practitioners gathering! There are 3 main reasons for this and we’re excited to have the planning in motion.
Here are the reasons:
1. Learning from others. We’ve been working with different settlement and community organizations to be able to host storytelling workshops and each time we meet a new organization, Mathura introduces the project and welcomes feedback and ideas on how to improve our approach. We’ve repeatedly heard that projects similar, but not identical to ours, have been done in some way or another before but that the challenge is legacy or sustainability of the work. We recognize and value the time others have dedicated to their work and we want to learn from them and connect them together.
2. Community of Practice. I’ve benefitted from participating in several communities of practice before and I saw an opportunity to bring one to this space. The goal is to create common and shared space for individuals of different backgrounds to align with others in overlapping goals and work towards greater impact and strengthen the collective work of the sector.
3. Self-care. This work is hard. It’s often done with spare hours, limited funding and through the passion of a few dedicated individuals. We want to create a safe and healing space for folks to come together and support each other connected by their work but away from their desks.
We’ve been connecting with folks for tactical reasons – to get a workshop hosted – and now we want to connect at a philosophical level to create deeper connections and forge stronger relationships.
We’ve opened up applications to curate a unique community of practice. We’re looking for individuals who have the capacity and desire to give to the community as much as they take. We’re looking for doers; folks who want to see more done with the resources they have and aren’t afraid to share. We are looking for storytellers, individuals from the settlement sector, community development and social innovation who are excited to connect with folks with complementary or sometimes opposite backgrounds to form new and exciting partnerships.
If this resonates with you we are accepting applications until February 28 and will be finalizing invitations by March 3 when we will share final event details and logistics.