What really drives community action in KW?

Presenting the “environmental” group’s 4 agreed values.

TransitionKW participated in a great workshop called What Drives Your Community Action in KW last week. The event brought together three KW community groups doing work to advance environmental sustainability, democracy, and social justice. The evening began with short presentations from three panelists. Trish Hennessy spoke on behalf of the Social Planning Council of KW, detailing how inequality is on the rise in Canada. Brian Tanguay, representing KW’s FairVote chapter, explained the shortcomings of Canada’s first-past-the-post electoral system and offered alternatives designed to make our system more representative. And TransitionKW’s own Sylvie Spraakman outlined the concept of resilience, a central theme of much of TransitionKW’s work.

What was really interesting about these talks was how each speaker linked their group’s work and goals to those of the other two groups, illustrating how seemingly disparate priorities often overlap. This last point was further reinforced by the facilitated exercise that followed (check out these great pictures of the group in action) the presentations. We were asked to individually write down four words that personally drive us to act. We were then directed to partner up and consolidate our two lists of four words into a single list of four words. The groups of two were then partnered with other groups of two, and challenged again to agree on four words that represented everyone’s motivators. This process continued until the entire group (50-60 people) agreed on four words that motivate our community actions. Here’s what we decided on: equality, legacy, compassion, and community of voices.

I think of this list as representing the ‘sweet spot’ at the centre of a Venn diagram. The way I see it, KW needs good people doing exciting work on all of these progressive fronts. That said, it’s important to remember that, at the end of the day, we share many common values. If we keep those core values in mind when designing our events and actions, they are likely to appeal to a much broader audience, despite being slanted toward, say in the case of TransitionKW, environmental and social resilience. Also, understanding this overlap creates space for future partnerships. Instead of thinking in terms of amalgamation, we should think in terms of creating synergies, or ways that local community groups can cooperate to advance shared goals. Sometimes the sum is greater than its parts.

Moving forward I would love to see greater cooperation between KW’s various progressive community groups – there’s strength in numbers, right? How do you think TransitionKW should collaborate with other local community groups in the future? Post your ideas in comments section below!


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