Community Centre – Pause for Reflection – Next Steps

Community work is an iterative process. There is action, there is reflection. In order for things to work, for things to be sustainable, both parts of the process need to take place, constantly. We have done some action, we met, we talked, we exchanged ideas, and we wrote a draft grant application that got some really valuable feedback. Next, some reflection.

I am going to write some things from my heart, because that is the only way I can do this next bit. Feel free to read it or skip it. ~Nathan

The last two months have been amazing and eyeopening for me. I had expected this project to be hard, but I hadn’t expected it to be triggering. There were a lot of accusations about my personal position, goals, and plans around the ideas of exclusion, racism, and ablism. Those who know me well know that this is not who I am, but to say that, especially to say that online, is to lay the foundation for false claims. We all make mistakes. I’m always keenly aware of mine and do everything I can to correct them. I have been deeply hurt by some of the things that have been said, but I do not want that to stop the project from moving forward and I do not want that to colour how people are treated or lead to any exclusion. Like many others in the community, I am a trauma survivor, I have disabilities, and I am low on spoons. I get overwhelmed and overloaded. I am often unable to process things, especially when they’re loaded with emotion. The past two months have been nothing but emotion, in my personal life, in my school life, and in my community engagement work. I feel awful to have hurt people in how things started with this project. I feel awful that people have felt excluded. I feel awful that I took too long to get things together to be able to get one last round of feedback on the grant draft. I feel awful that I took three full weeks to be able to write words to the public about this project. I want to do better. I want to do different. I want things to succeed. I don’t want this to crash and burn. I don’t want to crash and burn. I don’t want anyone else to crash and burn either.

<b>Our Community</b>

Some of the biggest pieces of feedback I’ve received about the process of this particular project to get a community centre going are ideas around Exclusion and Politics.

I have long known that there are issues about politics in our community. Some say that racism is the biggest issue, and that may be the case, but there is certainly something else at play. Our community is divided. As someone said at one of the meetings: “We may call ourselves a community, but we don’t act like one.” We are siloed. There are too many divided groups with similar interests, groups that won’t talk to each other or work together. There is definitely racism at play, but when there are factions in the white cis-gay community and the white trans * community then it’s clear that racism isn’t the only issue.

In conversation with a community member outside of the meetings, I came to a realization: We, as queer folk, are a community of trauma survivors who are living in trauma.

Trauma responses are reactive, they’re strong, they’re rooted in our reptilian brain. When all our responses to any misdeed, intentional or not, are in that reactive state, we end up breaking bonds and stepping back, and getting angry when maybe that’s not what’s needed. I say we not to accuse anyone, but because I am just as guilty of this as many others I know, both in the queer community and outside it. I don’t know your (the reader’s) personal story, I don’t know where you’re at, I don’t know what healing you need to do or have done. I can only make a guess, and a poor one at that.

My intentions and (to the best of my understanding) the intentions of those who attended those first two meetings was not rooted in exclusion, but inclusion. At every turn, in every conversation, the question of how we can make the space and process as accessible to all aspects of the community was discussed, the question of how we can break down those silos and unite our community under a single cause.

The only way we can make a community centre be sustainable is to take a step back, leave politics at the door, and find ways to truly listen and hear what others have to say.

<b>Multiple Projects</b>

In the last two months, several people have approached saying that they or their group have either tried to make a community centre happen without success or are currently working on it.

We are a limited group with a limited amount of funding and resources that are available for us to access. When there’s multiple versions of the same project happening, then there’s even less to spread around.

Pooling our resources and ideas and abilities will enable us to make this project sustainable.

<b>Next Steps</b>

Normally, this is where I’d want to put out the poll for when we have our next meeting. Instead, I want to ask people to reach out to me, by email, by facebook, or through this website.

I don’t know who is working on making a community centre happen other than those people I’ve met with. I don’t know who has tried to make it happen in the past. I would like to help us, as a community, take the first steps to uniting on the idea.

If you are working on a community centre project or if you’ve worked on one for Victoria in the past, please reach out! I want to facilitate a meeting among you all to see what make sense for sharing resources and working together on a sustainable, united vision. We can use grants like the Develop Grant to fund this process and to pay the people who are meeting to make it happen.

Community Centre – The Develop Grant

The first two meetings that have been held (May 25th and June 15th) were specifically intended to initiate the conversation and, primarily, to discuss what the community would like to see on a grant application. This blog post is meant to go over that Grant and the feedback we received from our Professor after submitting the application for grading.

<b>The Develop Grant</b>

The Develop Grant is one of the Vancouver Foundation’s Systems Change grants. This grant is intended to fund the initial design, consultation, and planning process for projects intended to address the root issues of systemic issues.

If funded, the grant is up to $20,000 for up to 1 year for the planning phase of a project. This is divided into up to $10,000 for Project and Administrative Expenses and up to $10,000 for Participation and Community Engagement Expenses.

The Develop Grant does not require matching funding and is intended as a first step in a project planning process.

Once a project is appropriately planned, the Vancouver Foundation has two additional tiers of Systems Change grants that could go towards a project like ours. These are both for up to $100,000 a year for up to 3 years (up to $300,000 total) and require matching funding of 25% and 50%.

One piece to particularly highlight about these grants is that the Vancouver Foundation is particularly interested in funding organizations and projects that pay a living wage to salaried positions and appropriately compensate all who are involved. Since our community is particularly hit hard by wage-gaps, this piece was something that struck me as important and, if built in from the start, could lay the foundation for sustainability.

The Develop Grant is a rolling-application which means that you can submit the application at any point and they are reviewed monthly. There are no hard numbers about how many grants get funded, but a good estimate is that about 50% (half) of the applications that are submitted get funded.

If the application does not get funded, the Vancouver Foundation gives feedback as to why. They will continue to accept your application going forward even when it was initially denied and appreciate seeing it come back with adjustments based on their feedback.

Click here for more information about Systems Change Grants.

<b>Why Did We Do This?</b>

A question that has been brought up at both meetings and outside the meetings is why did we do this. If we weren’t already engaged in the conversation and we weren’t connected with a group who is working on this project, why start a new one?

The opportunity to write this grant application as a graded assignment with feedback was something that I could not pass up. I (Nathan) have been hearing and saying that a Community Centre is needed in Victoria and on the Island for way too long. I had initiated some conversation about starting this project and when the option to write a grant application that could help get it off the ground came up, I couldn’t say no. Even if this particular project goes nowhere, having the graded grant application draft will be helpful down the line.

This was done on such a short timeline because the University summer semester is only 7 weeks long. We had only those two months to initiate the conversation, write the draft, get feedback, and submit the paper for grading. If we had taken our time, we would not have finished our assignment on time.

I’ll discuss this a little bit more in the next blog post. I want to keep the focus on the grant application in this post. ~Nathan

<b>Outcome</b>

My partner and I submitted the Develop Grant application that we had written with community feedback from the two meetings. This included answers to the main questions that are asked on the application, a mock budget, and a literature review that was relevant to the issues of setting up a community centre, having established queer community space, and the needs of the Victoria population.

Overall, we received 83%.

We also received valuable feedback.

Of primary note, and consistently throughout the grant application, our Professor highlighted the fact that we were unclear about the systemic issue that we were attempting to address and that “building a community centre” was not the goal of a Develop Grant. She suggested we rearrange some pieces to truly highlight the systemic issues of isolation and accessibility. She also suggested that instead of focusing on “building a community centre” for this application, we focus on “developing a project plan.” These are relatively easy changes to make, assuming that the application as it stands (covering the key ideas as highlighted in the meeting on June 15th) is what the community wants to submit for funding.

For the sake of our work integrity, and because it has not been submitted to the Vancouver Foundation, I will not be publicly sharing the grant draft or the literature review. ~Nathan

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!

Community Centre Meeting – May 25, 2019

On May 25, 2019, the first meeting of this latest push to build a physical community resource centre in Victoria happened. The call to attend this meeting was posted one week prior to the meeting date and the meeting was held at the downtown, Central Greater Victoria Public Library location.

In advance of the meeting, during the meeting, and afterwards, several issues were raised regarding invitations, accessibility, and inclusion. First, I will summarize the meeting and what was decided, then I will address the issues and the next steps that were decided on. Meeting minutes were taken digitally and shared between those who were in attendance. This summary reaches the main body of ideas generated and discussed through the meeting.

There were nine different community members who attended the meeting. Each brought with them a variety of experience in the queer and trans community, in the Victoria community, in community building, and with community connections. Our interests and affiliations ranged from preschool and school age children all the way to seniors, from small grassroots groups up to well established and decades old organizations, and from small local community groups to national and international groups.

The meeting opened with a territory acknowledgement and recognizing that we met on the lands of Lekwungen-speaking peoples, now called the Songhees and Esquimalt Nations, and the W̱SÁNEĆ peoples. We followed this with a round of introductions and then creating a group safe space agreement to ensure that everyone had their voices heard, felt safe, and were able to be recognized for their own experiences, however different they might be.

The meeting was facilitated by Nathan Veenhof, myself. During introductions, I made it clear that while I chose to make the event post and restart this conversation, and while I had hopes that we could make use of a grant-writing project in one of my classes to help us get funding, I am fully prepared to step back and follow someone else’s lead in this project if that is what the community would like. While I maintain this statement, and will listen to a majority voice, not a single voice, the consensus at the meeting was that I maintain my work. I also recognized that my position as someone who is reasonably young, white, cis-passing, and (often) able-passing puts me in a place of privilege with respect to access to information and resources. It is not my place to keep that from others, but instead to break those barriers and share that access as widely as I can and is safe to do.

After an introduction of this website as something I created to meet a community need, and recognizing that this website only works as long as community members continue to contribute to it, I provided an overview of the grant funding opportunity that is currently on my table.

The Systems Change Grant

The Vancouver Foundation provides grants to projects engaging in Community Based Research and projects that are working to affect systems change. The Systems Change grants are intended for projects that “tackle the root causes of an issue by disrupting the ways that systems work.” There are three tiers of grants for projects at varying stages, from Develop grants for projects just starting out to Test grants to test the project’s influence and Scale grants to increase the scale of a project’s influence.

For one of my classes at the University of Victoria, ANTH 395 Community Based Research: Methods and Theories, one of the required outcomes is a fundable grant proposal written by a group of two or more students for a community partner. The initial project assignment was to create a proposal for one of the Research grants with a community partner that had already been picked, however we were also allowed to pick our own community partner. Knowing that this community/resource centre project was in the works, I asked if I could work with this group to write the grant proposal. I received approval and guidance that the Develop grant would be the most appropriate. I will be writing this grant proposal with one classmate who will also attend meetings with me during the month of May and June. It would ultimately be up to the community whether or not the grant proposal actually got submitted.

Develop Grant
The Develop grant is a grant for up to $20,000 over 1 year “to help teams generate ideas and a project plan for systems change that can be submitted to funders.” The development of a physical community/resource space fits in this mandate. One of the key things that this grant would provide for this project, and is within the mandate of the Vancouver Foundation, is a living-wage salary for the working members of the team. This would mean that people who are struggling to make ends meet, doing this off the side of their desk because of lack of pay, or are stretched to their limit on work required to live, but would rather be putting a focus on this project, would be able to participate, maintain involvement, and sustain a living while they’re at it. These are key issues for any project in the queer and trans community, so accessing funding to pay project members would go a long way to building capacity and the potential for sustainability in our community.

The Community Resource Centre

To prompt conversation and to help keep the meeting on track, I facilitated with the help of a power point conversation. After the brief introduction above, we spent the bulk of our time discussing our needs, desires, experience, and concerns around the development of a resource centre in Victoria. To help this discussion, I created a list of questions that I thought would be useful. While we didn’t follow them in our conversation, they were all addressed to some extent.

  • What are your needs?
  • What barriers do you face?
  • What should the space do?
  • What makes a space feel safe?
  • What role do you want to have?
  • Who do you know that should be involved and wasn’t here?

As a group, we created a list of needs and wants for a space. This was added to and modified throughout our conversation. We recognized in the meeting that this was not an exhaustive list, and that this list is likely to change over time.

Highlighted needs: – physical space – community info hub – workshop space – office space – co-operative – programming – formal/informal spaces – good coffee – skills development – volunteer opportunities – accessibility – INCLUSIVITY – location! – housing lists – computer access – sustainability – find our way out of and through trauma together – comfortable shoes off cathartic movement spaces – artistic creative collaboration – sense of belonging – mental health support –

Concerns About the Project
During the meeting, a lot of concerns were raised about the project and what will be needed, how it will be sustained, and how it will get off the ground. I have gone through the minutes and pulled the key points from these parts of the conversation.

How big a space do we need?
With a big space, we could have counselling and offices, meeting rooms, board rooms (that could be used for support groups), a creative space for dance, music, and art, childcare, and a common area for socializing. It could be used for bigger events that our community struggles to find space for. We could rent it out on a sliding scale which would generate a source of income. We could copy other community centres and have a coffee shop attached that would generate opportunities for career training and employment as well as generating an income for the centre.
This raised more questions that were not answered:
– How big is too big?
– What is sustainable for our community?
– Is a small space better?
– What other income possibilities might there be?
– Should we create a new space or adapt and take over an existing space? (Specifically mentioned were United Way, CUPE, and talking to the Municipal Government.)

How do we deal with the divided nature of our community?
The local LGBTQ2SI+ community is not so much one community as many. It is divided with a massive amount of politics and emotion as divides every community. We recognized the need to work together in order for something like this to succeed, that all voices need to be heard, that sharing funding and resources is the best way to make something for our community to be as successful and accessible as possible. We talked about how initiatives in the past have been within this isolated groups, that it was a “yay us” experience until the initiative fizzled out. We talked about the importance of leaving politics at the door.
One big question came from this part of the conversation:
– How do we build trust?
Potential answers to this question included:
– partnership agreements
– collaboration
– round table conversations (not everyone will be able to attend every meeting, it’s an ongoing conversation)
– invite specific community groups to the meetings
– invite community groups to present on their position and projects
– be transparent
– follow up with community and do as we said we would

Where would a community centre be?
The question of location is tied in with the question of accessibility and size. The key point that was made in this part of the conversation was easy access to bus routes. The fewer buses that are needed, and the shorter the bus ride is, the more likely more people will be able to access the community centre. To that end, the main suggestions of location ended up being in downtown or the north end of downtown.
Key questions raised and not answered were:
– Where is our community located? Where will they be coming from?
– What does accessibility mean?

Sustainability
We kept circling around this point without ever addressing it head on. It feels as though we are not at a point of addressing this point yet. We discussed the fact that clearly outlining a structure to the organization and giving roles to people too soon was something that led projects to failure in the past, and led to further community division. The key theme that came out of this topic was the importance of not biting off more than we can chew: only doing what we can actually achieve, only setting up what we can maintain.

Who was there
In the interest of privacy and safety, the names of people who attended will not be listed. However, it is important to recognize that every person comes with their own connections to community, organizations, and government, whether these are direction connections, partnerships, work or social connections, or historical relationships.. To facilitate that understanding, we created a list of our connections (which is likely incomplete!):
– BC Federation of Labour – DAC diversity advisory Committee – University of Victoria – Aids Vancouver Island (AVI) – Silver Threads Connection – Rainbow Advocacy Society – Gender Spectacular – VIQRC – O_CHI – Victoria Native Friendship Centre – Rainbow Health Co-operative – PEERS – Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence – Rainbow Camus – EGAL – National Seniors Society – CUPE Pink Triangle – Hospital Employees Union Pink Triangle – Island Health – Simon Fraser University – United Way – LGBTQ Advisory Committee to Victoria Police – City Council – Provincial Government – TransCare BC – Ambit Gender Diversity Consulting – After School programs – Rainbow Club –

Who was missing
We noted that we lacked representation from the 2-Spirit community, the Immigrant community, the People of Colour communities, and representation from the rest of the Island and the local islands. We hope that people from these communities will be able to attend future meetings as their voices are just as important and valid in this conversation as any others.

Concerns Raised by Those not in Attendance
Prior to the meeting, questions were raised around accessibility, who was involved, who was leading the project, funding, and ensuring that all voices would be heard.

To address physical accessibility needs, a location was chosen that is close to multiple bus routes, relatively well known and easy to find, and is wheelchair-accessible with a gender neutral washroom. The conversation was also invited to continue online both on the Facebook event and via email through this website. This will be the case going forward as well as civil conversation on these blog posts. If someone would like to attend meetings that cannot physically attend them, we can make arrangements for visual conferencing so they can be present.

The question of who is involved has been fairly well addressed above. This is an ongoing project that needs the involvement of the whole community in order to be successful. Each meeting will continue to be an open call to all community members to attend.

As it currently stands, I (Nathan Veenhof) am leading this project, however the word “lead” is used very loosely. I see my role as facilitating the meetings to ensure we have a safe, accessible space to meet in, that all voices get heard, and that this project continues to move forward in a positive and sustainable way. At meetings, I see myself as an equal member and contributor to the conversation while doing my best to ensure our meetings stay on time and on topic and that all the voices are heard.I am also leading the writing of the grant proposal for the Systems Change Develop grant knowing that this grant may or may not be actually submitted after it is written. I am perfectly willing and happy to step back and let other people take on the roles of facilitation and arranging space, if that is what the community desires and knowing that we all have our strengths and weaknesses.

With regards to the questions about funding, where it’s coming from, what it’s for and how it would shape the project, all of these are addressed above and were discussed extensively at the meeting. The initial grant application is to the Vancouver Foundation for a grant intended to help change systems at their root, as a project like a community centre aims to do. This particular grant is to get the project started, including initial engagement, capacity building, and ensuring that the organization is set up to apply for further funding and grants.

To ensure that all voices are heard, each meeting will continue to be open to all members of the LGBTQ2SI+ communities, no matter who they are. The Facebook event posts will continue to be public (with guest list hidden for privacy and safety concerns) and people will continue to be able to invite whoever they feel should be involved to the event. Next meeting information will be posted in blogs on this website either at the end of a meeting summary or in a separate post. Meetings will continue to be held at locations that are physically accessible and have shown that they support queer initiatives. For those who cannot attend physical meetings, the conversation continues online both on the blog posts and on the Facebook events, as well as by email through this website. If someone would like to attend a meeting but is unable to, arrangements for video conferencing will be made.

Hearing concerns like this is absolutely important. It is essential that these things be addressed from the start, as soon as they’re apparent. Leaving these issues behind, ignoring them, putting them off, or addressing them without proper conversation means that the community will continue to be divided and not all voices are being heard. Please continue to raise your concerns! We want to address them as fully and appropriately as possible.

Next Steps

Primary focus: Revising the Vancouver Foundation Systems Change Develop Grant
Saturday, June 15, 2019 at Downtown Greater Victoria Public Library
Facebook Event page: https://www.facebook.com/events/847029065677186/
We will be meeting in Study Room #3 (Go through the children’s section on the main floor and follow the “Community Event” signs to the study rooms by the back doors.
Accessibility: The room is on the main floor of the library with ramps up to and down from the children’s section. There is an accessible, gender neutral washroom in the children’s section.
The Downtown Library is located between Broughton and Courtenay Streets with a parking garage underneath that is first hour free parking.
This event will take place on the un-ceded traditional territories of the Lekwungen-speaking peoples, now called the Songhees and Esquimalt Nations.
This event is publicly listed, but the guests list is private for the safety of community members.

For this meeting only: participants will be asked to sign a consent form. This is for University of Victoria course requirements associated with the grant application assignment and because we will be audio recording the meeting. The recording will be kept until the end of the month and then deleted.

At our last meeting, we covered a lot of issues and ideas and discussed our first steps. For more information on this project and the last meeting, more information is here:
https://viqueercollective.com/community-resource-centre/

This meeting will be focused on the Vancouver Foundation grant that we are writing to hopefully be able to access funding to get us going. Myself (Nathan) and a classmate will have a draft version of the answers to the grant application questions based on the conversations in the last meeting. We’ll guide the conversation around ensuring that the answers are as correct and accurate as possible. Key questions that need to be answered for the grant application include:
– 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?
– 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?
– 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?
– Who are you currently partnering with? Who else do you intend to include in the development process? How are people affected by the issue involved?
– 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?

If we have enough time, we will begin conversation around vision and mission.