Community Centre Meeting – June 15, 2019

I apologize for the lateness of this post! I had intended to get it up as fast as possible so that more feedback from the community could go into the grant application prior to submitting it for grading. Unfortunately, I ended up in a massive state of overwhelm and overload and am only just starting to resurface. Please forgive my lateness! ~Nathan

On Saturday, June 15, 2019, a group of 9 community members met at the Downtown Victoria Library. This was the second meeting to discuss planning and creating a physical Community Resource Centre for the Victoria/Vancouver Island LGBTQI2S+ (queer) community. At this meeting, we focused on discussing the grant application that myself (Nathan) and a classmate who is also a community member are writing for one of our UVic Courses. This is primarily due to its very close due date (June 28th). The submitted draft of the grant application and the feedback we receive from our professor will be available after it is graded. This draft will not be submitted to apply for funding, but will serve as a valuable foundation for us to apply for funding in the future when we have a clearer sense of what we’re applying for and who should be on the application.

Opening
We opened with a round of names, pronouns, and what brought us to the meeting. We created a group agreement that recognized confidentiality, equal voice, respect and dignity, graceful mistakes, and recognition of privilege and position.

We did a brief overview of the grant application and what was discussed last month. Concerns raised by the group this time included:

  • Space needs – can it be part of another project/space? (one person has done research into this)
  • What are others doing? (519 in Toronto was brought up and discussed)
  • Location accessibility – Visibility of space, Transit access vs walkability (where in downtown would be best if downtown is best?)

We passed around a list to collect names and email addresses. This is valuable for several reasons:

  • An email list for future contact with those who are actively involved
  • A way to easily track numbers of those involved and attending meetings
  • A way for funders to be aware of how involved the community is in the process and how many people are contributing (more involvement = more likely to be funded)

We also passed around a list to collect associations to organizations. Some people wrote down organizations that they requested not be public due to potential issues of association. These lists of organizations are great for several reasons as well:

  • Serve as a public list of who the community centre project is associated with while maintaining the privacy and safety of individuals involved
  • Creates a list of potential partners for resources, space, funding, and any other kind of help and movement
    Serves as a foundation for association that appeals to potential funders (better connected = more likely to be funded)

In addition to what was listed as associations last month, the list this month included:
– Rainbow Threads – The Rainbow Choir – Queer News: Vancouver Island (Facebook group) – PFLAG Victoria – Federal Government – VIHA – LGBTQ Spoon Share Victoria & Vancouver Island (Facebook group) – Victoria Pride Society –

Why this Grant Application?

We began discussing the grant application, but issues were raised in the question of why we were discussing that at this meeting, why we needed to have a charity for association, and what our proper order of things should be with feelings that the grant application needed to wait, particularly that focusing on a grant this early on can take the focus away from the greater project and the end goal won’t be achieved.

Key ideas raised about what needed to happen before we applied for the (any) grant included:

  • Understanding costs – startup, pay for employees, sustaining costs
  • Knowing who has what skills
  • Bringing people in to fill the missing skills gaps
  • Ensuring that all voices are heard from the beginning – Indigenous, People of Colour, and Immigrants were a key concern that have not been heard from appropriately at these first two meetings
  • How to ensure sustainability (incorporate?)
    • what protections are in place to make sure the organization continues when the original founders run out of steam or leave
  • What protections exist for people putting in their time/money/energy (ie. corporate protections)
  • What kind of organization do we want to be?
  • Fleshing out the details of who we are

We discussed these as issues and ideas that need to be addressed in order to move forward as a group. We recognized that this grant application is a draft that will be submitted for grading and feedback in a University class by a professor who regularly sits on the board that reviews and approves these grant applications. We also recognized that this is a draft and that it can serve as a foundation (especially with feedback) for a future application that better reflects what the community goals are, and that it does not need to be submitted on a specific timeline. We also recognized that having the conversation around the grant questions can help answer some of the questions raised about what we need to do before we apply for a grant.

Convene Grant

My class partner and I (Nathan), as university students, facilitated the meeting using a power point presentation that outlined what we needed to answer on the grant application. It’s important to remember that there are very strict, short character counts for each of these answers and we cannot include everything. We included the key points from what we had already drafted and received feedback on our answers and a better frame to answer more completely. I’ll structure this section in a similar way.

Questions about the Challenge and Change You’re Working On
What is the pressing issue you’re trying to address?
What systemic behaviours, attitudes, resource flows, and/or policies have you identified that are holding the issue in place?

First Draft Points:

  • Accessibility
  • Resources
  • Social connections and support
  • Appropriate medical services
  • Appropriate paramedical services
  • Identified as:
    • No resource list
    • No safe space
    • Consumption/pay-per-use spaces
    • Financial barriers
    • Emotional barriers (trauma)
    • Passing through cis-het space first

Feedback Key Points:

  • Counsellors and Administrators to help people through systems
  • A medical component (perhaps? down the line?)
  • Peer support
  • Flexible spaces to account for changing needs – rentable offices
  • Workshops and workshop spaces

Clarity
Clarity was asked for on some points about the grant and our plan:

  • Are we renting or buying – undecided (we discussed QMunity, their building of condos/apartments over their latest centre in Vancouver, and their needs assessment for Victoria that we still cannot locate)
  • Are we as an organization applying for Charitable status and can this grant fund that? –
    • We don’t know yet
    • it won’t fund the application for Charitable status
  • This grant will fund the project plan, ensuring that the community voices are heard throughout the planning process, ensuring that the group is on the same page, and setting us up to be able to apply for the funding and other things needed to actually succeed

Why will developing a plan to address this issue be meaningful?
How do you foresee the community being able to influence or change the systemic behaviours behind the issue?

First Draft Points:

  • Community Centre
  • Safe space
  • Accessible
  • Resources available
  • Non-consumption/no fee
  • Space for
    • Socializing
    • Groups of various description
    • Sliding scale rental
    • Meetings
    • Counsellors
    • Doctors?
  • Have community members here for all roles
  • No space for them
  • Making space builds support removes barriers to access

Feedback Key Points:

  • Being explicit in the answer means more clarity for funders
  • Fracturing and infighting between the silos in the community
  • Racism
  • Conflicting needs of accessibility
  • Mitigating isolation helps to create a community of belonging which allows people to feel connected, thrive and grow. Having meaningful lives, connects to mental health and trauma stuff.
  • Meaningful in breaking down those silos, creating intergenerational, intercommunity. Helping to create connections outside silos, even though they may not have a lot in common individually, they have a lot in common as being marginalized people.
  • Harm reduction
  • Advocacy. If someone has been attacked, there can be someone there that can be there for them or help them navigate the legal system. If you’re not in a mental space to handle that, someone to help you. People that don’t feel safe going to the police, having an outlet to speak your piece without having to interact with police
  • More proactive spaces to learn what your rights are and how to remediate them. Are you being discriminated against because of gender etc, re: housing. Not just reactionary plans, but proactive.
    Affordability to services. subsidization or something for people who have never been able to access or limited access to services (counselling etc).
  • There is a lot of funding for youth. Once you’re over 25, there’s not much out there. No dedicated hub for people over that age.
  • Function as a centre for the island, and communication with other groups (Difficult to address in this grant application. Best to focus local with an eye to Island-wide)
  • Can create satellite groups or use online resources
  • Rainbow bus – a queer community bus for the island, safe/affordable transportation around the island
  • Transport is a huge issue, no really good ways to get from, ie. Comox to Victoria. Issues of affordability and safety.
  • If you don’t want to pay, you can use rideshare but you never know who you’re going to be with. Not queer/trans specific – might be fine, but might also be dangerous

Questions about the Process You Will Undertake to Develop an Action Plan
Where are you currently in the design and development process?
What have you done to move your ideas forward, and what activities do you still need to do?

First Draft Points:

  • Grassroots
  • Community conversations
  • First meeting May 25
  • Posting minutes/progress on public-facing website
  • Open invitation to every meeting
  • Changing date/time of each meeting
  • Accommodates various schedules
  • Invitation to community leaders to present and collaborate

Feedback Key Points:

  • Add reaching out to those who have not attended, groups that aren’t being heard from

Who are you currently partnering with?
Who else do you intend to include in the development process?
How are partners affected by the issue involved?

First Draft Points:

  • Current:
    • AVI
    • Rainbow Advocacy Society
    • Needs to be official partnerships for the grant application
    • These organizations could go ON the application when submitted
    • These were selected based on feedback from the initial conversation and were otherwise random
  • Potential Future:
    • United Way
    • VNFC
    • Transcare BC
    • Qmunity
    • City and Province
    • Island Health
    • UVic
    • Silver Threads Connection
    • Victoria Pride

Feedback Key Points:

  • EGAL maybe
  • PFLAG Victoria

Project Description
What is the pressing issue that your project is trying to address?
Why is addressing this meaningful?
How will your Develop process lead to a fully formed and viable project plan?

First Draft Points:
We had not drafted this section yet. In order to answer this question fully, the rest of the application needs to be filled out. We asked the community members who were present to answer this, instead.

Feedback Key Points:

  • Lack of resource hub and community connection
  • Lack of physical space, an actual physical location for those things to happen
  • Lack of consistency in where you go to access community events and connections
  • No where you can depend on to go
  • Many reasons why people cannot make it to things
  • Access to resources – why it’s important, building connections, community building, harm reduction

Next Steps

As a group, we discussed different ways to make the meetings more accessible to the wider community. Ideas included:

  • Creating a live-shared document for the minutes, so that people not attending can add comments and contribute despite not being physically in the room
  • More clearly inviting people to call in or video-call in to participate
  • Hosting the meetings on different days of the week, different times of the day (i.e. weekday daytime to capture those who work evenings or weekends or live further out of town)
  • Invite people in the wider community to share their availability to meet (this was done just with a Doodle Poll to the email list for the first meeting, but had not been the intention to continue that alone as a capture method past these first two meetings and the grant application) – Doodle Poll, Facebook Poll
  • Create a Facebook page specifically for this project
  • Create an Instagram account specifically for this project (this is where the majority of the teens/youth are, not Facebook)

Based on feedback from this meeting, I have created a Facebook page for this project. It is titled using the word “Queer” instead of “LGBTQI2S+” because of Facebook rules limiting the use of all-caps in names of pages and events. I am currently the only admin on the page, but that should change going forward, if anyone has any interest in helping moderate the conversation on that platform to ensure inclusion and accessibility.

Keep the conversation going!

Keep chatting, talking, asking and answering questions, and being involved using the Facebook page, the Facebook event posts, these blog posts, and the email through the contact us section of this website.

If you have any ideas about the direction for the next meeting, please share them!

The more involved people are, the more response there is, communication on the topic, ideas shared, the more likely we are to succeed in our goals!

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