After a few months away, we recently reconvened our fantastic Inclusivity Committee to share some updates on our progress, and brainstorm ideas for our soon to come brick and mortar headquarters, and our return to in person events. Thanks so much to all of our committee members who participated, we value your support and input greatly. We are excited about so many of the ideas raised and will look at implementing the various suggestions as we continue on our journey to be the most inclusive organization we can be.
Read on for the minutes from our meeting, including some excellent resources the committee shared.
Updates Since Meeting #1
- Drea is working on organizing bystander training for our team, and we will invite the committee to join us for the training.
- This training will be through Dandelion Initiative, an organization based in survivor centered practices that comes from a place of understanding that safety looks different for everyone.
- Ideally we will be holding this training at our new HQ, in person (complying with the COVID restrictions at the time) allowing us to conduct an environmental scan and engage further.
- Drea has also been sharing learning resources with the team, and we are working on a way to share these resources with our community, whether through social media, our website or our newsletter. We want to give others a chance to participate in the learning and education piece as well and share what we’ve been working on and discussing.
We’re on the hunt for a brick and mortar location to establish a Society HQ and event space! (If you want to support our endeavors you can support our crowdfunding campaign here!) We asked our committee for input as we continue to look for a space, and for ideas that we should be considering once we’re up and running.
OPENING & STAFFING
- Erica mentioned the difficulty of finding female brokers in commercial real estate in the city of Toronto. A couple members had some suggestions and are going to reach out to folks they know to see if we can find someone.
- Discussed the Living Wage Certification, which ensures staff wages reflect what people need to earn to cover the actual costs of living in their community. A few breweries have been certified and we are interested in learning more. Planning to discuss with colleagues in our industry and see if this is something we can implement.
- Should be mindful of where we are getting our supplies. I.e. ULINE has some questionable donation history, so we plan to look into Canadian made companies and see if there are other vendors we can utilize.
- Esther recommended a book called Invisible Women. It’s about women and women identified folks in the workplace and identifies blind spots and potential biases from a data based perspective.
- Discussed that a lot of businesses will have a pride flag outside, but the behaviour of the staff doesn’t match. So we need to ensure that what we’re presenting to the outside is what we are doing inside and our staff is all trained and operating from an inclusive framework. As a first step we plan to have implicit bias training mandatory for all staff.
RENTALS & PARTNERSHIPS
- Part of our plan is to rent the space to folks in the community. Discussed looking into a co-op program with the potential to subsidize folks who can’t afford the rental costs.
- Want to offer a different rate or sliding scale to new Canadians for rentals. For newcomers specifically, Meoshi suggested going into the community centers/immigration centers and encouraging folks to come into the space directly, rather than waiting for them to come to us.
- Can we offer a night where it’s just for their community? Planning to do some community outreach together with folks from the committee to these specific places once we’re open and understand the makeup of our neighbourhood.
- Discussed looking further into who we are renting to – ensure that people we are working with share our values.
- Part of our space will include an artisan shop, we plan to have a monthly spotlight on a BIPOC business, or queer business and stock their products.
- Planning to visit Black Owned TO store in Scarborough to source some new businesses and vendors to partner with.
- We discussed considerations that need to be made for accessibility, ie looking into the StopGap program.
- Suggestions were made to go further than that, if we can just have it built in. There are grants from federal and provincial government to help pay for accessibility improvements. We’re planning to look into these and any improvements the landlord will agree to.
- As a best practice when looking at accessibility, it’s best to avoid things that people have to ask for and instead just have them readily available.
- Discussed how to acknowledge the land our HQ is on. Dawn referenced Craig’s Cookies – at the front door there’s a piece of art that is the land acknowledgement. Could we have an Indigenous artist create a work of art for us that fills a similar capacity? Have to be careful and ensure the artist we are approaching is alcohol friendly. Chief Lady Bird, Star Horn, Patrick Hunter were artists the group mentioned.
- Other ideas included researching some Indigenous stories and original names of places from our area to incorporate into the space as artwork and education, and incorporating certain ways of being that feel inclusive like round tables instead of square.
Bevys and Events
MINI BEVY 0045
- Attendees to our events need to be vaccinated. At Bevy 0045 we had a waiver to ensure people signed off on their vaccine status along with screening for symptoms. For future Bevys we can take advantage of the Ontario Vaccine Certification that is in the works.
- We made plans for sanitizing stations. Had sanitizer at at the swag shop, at the 2 bars, at the food station and washrooms. Also provided individual hand sanitizers for each attendee.
- Did virtual menus rather than paper menus using QR codes available throughout the space. Planned to have written menus above the bar, but need to figure out a way to keep them up for future events.
- For beer serving, we had a little sign saying ‘place beer here’ and then poured the beer from the can into the glass to minimize contact between the bartenders and the customer’s glass.
- Provided period products in the washrooms for folks who menstruate, plan to do this for all events going forward.
- Had nametags available and encouraged folks to include their pronouns. Not mandatory as we want to be mindful of safety and folks who may not want to include theirs. For future, plan to have all of the staff and vendors wear nametags with pronouns to help normalize the practice.
- Discussed having sensory packages on offer at some events. These can include ear plugs, sunglasses, fidget spinners etc. to help folks who struggle existing in loud spaces. Can put in the bevy deets that these things are available, have them at welcome or the swag shop.
- Discussed having a quiet space where folks can sit for a moment, then return to the event when they’re ready.
- Going forward need to be more specific and mindful of spaces being accessible. Lots of folks have issues with stairs, not just an issue for those in a wheelchair – many have invisible disabilities. We’re committed to seeking out accessible spaces going forward for events that don’t take place at our space.
- Discussed looking into a sliding scale for tickets for larger events. Or setting aside a few tickets to share with folks from underrepresented communities. Can give ticket purchases the option to pay extra for someone else’s ticket. Potentially look at funding this through an add on at the Swag Shop.
- Decided to look into having something in the morning after bag about the traditional territory the land took place on? Something for guests to take home that has that education piece.
- Discussed potentially having a “safe team” for events – people that can be approached by patrons or volunteers who need help. Clearly identify these folks and ensure that they’ve completed bystander and other training.