ILC Annual Gathering June 2017

This report was collaboratively written by all the participants in the June 2017 Inclusive Leadership Co-operative Annual Gathering!

Thank you to Daniel Collins and Pheonix Moore for your photos!

Click here to read the full ILC Annual Gathering June 2017 feedback report

There was so much positive energy based on being here to support each other with fellowship and no competition. It felt great to be welcomed and accepted here, making connections, finding ease and inclusion. A general sense of happiness in all the children, youth and adults contributed to a safe, warm atmosphere of acceptance and support. This was three days of slowing down to see friendly faces and feel the warmth, friendship and openness of everyone. Within the global frameworks of the international Earth Charter and the International Co-operative Movement, the whole ambiance was love, togetherness and respect.

“In big groups I usually feel shy, but by the end of the weekend I was completely comfortable.” (quote from a participant)

A wonderfully and marvelously diverse group of seventy-nine people participated in our Inclusive Leadership Co-operative 2017 Annual Gathering June 2 to 4, 2017. We were from different ages (16 months to 75 years old), different language and cultural backgrounds (were born and have lived all over the world), diverse leadership experiences (students, professionals, volunteers), and diverse life circumstances, sexual and gender orientations and many more backgrounds. We brought together our diverse abilities, personalities, concerns, and many ways of making a positive difference in the our communities. We explored, shared, celebrated and inspired each other.

“We are part of a world-wide movement made up of individuals and groups who care about people and the planet in ways that are life-enriching and life-sustaining.” (Kix Citton, ILC Board Member)

Thank you so much to people who came in family groups and to the following organizations that supported staff, volunteers and students to participate in the annual ILC Gathering:


The Inclusive Leadership Co-operative’s Annual Gathering was community-building in action from having lifeguards and others helping care for our kids to all that was done to be able to trust the community. We liked the challenge by choice format, with freedom to decide, multicultural groupings and everyone being so quick to share, help, support and care for each other.

What a refreshing, nourishing, fun experience to watch people open, grow, and learn while stepping out of comfort zones. The excellently paced schedule included structure and a well-laid out program with a variety of workshops, activities and lots of free time.

“I appreciated observing the children learning about boundaries and learning how to speak kindly about their boundaries.”

The Kid Culture workshops and activities included magic, games and producing a play with costumes and props. We watched this play and many other offerings during Saturday evening’s community celebration which had so much joyful talent.  The two evening campfires were awesome.


Throughout the weekend we gained new perspectives and developed our Inclusive Leadership skills, including ways to mediate and intersect with people’s different ideas and points of view.

As one participant said,  “I had a lot of practice breaking down my own mental rigidity. I have a very ‘cookie cutter” mentality with my parents at home and so I can become very stubborn in my thinking about anything that I’m not regularly exposed to. Challenging this is a fantastic thing to do.”

For instance, did you know that fight/flight/freeze is an instinctive resaction to the unfamiliar and that relaxation about differences is a skill? Learning to overcome the instinct to react negatively to differences through relaxation is knowledge that is the foundation of Inclusive Leadership. Another skill for connecting with differences was boundaries – respecting and being mindful of my needs and others needs, and learning to encourage without pressure.

“I can’t push the river. Everyone has a pace, a rhythm that I can witness and appreciate.”

There were so many reminders throughout the weekend about different ways of communicating compassionately about the things that concern us. Compassionate communication turns defensiveness into curiosity.

Our annual Inclusive Leadership gatherings are so successful because of the people who choose to show up and share their stories and experiences from their different cultures, locations, and backgrounds. It was so interesting and fun to be meeting, conversing and chatting with and getting to know new people and making new friends with new humans and so many living beings in the Cowichan Lake Outdoor Education Centre. The natural environment that the lovely Cowichan Lake Education Centre setting provides is awesome. We saw many deer and spent lots of time outside. Nature is so peaceful. Oh, did we mention the food? Kudos to the cooks for making good food that was enjoyed by all.

All communities are made up of different kinds of groups. Not everyone likes to talk to people from different groups. But that is not so here. Here everyone likes to hear people’s stories and learn from other people. For example, “I live in a student coop so it is nice to see and hear the experiences of those outside of a student age range.” The intergenerational co-operation throughout the gathering was so enjoyable. We brought such a mixture of ages, abilities and other differences together as strengths, providing a large perspective of the world. People come in all shapes, sizes and colours but we’re all the same in our value. We had lots of informal opportunities for creating and learning through art, henna, American Sign Language, music, gardening and stillness.

Diana – with the guitar – presenting a World Unity Flag to Noah, Roxanne, Scott and Mila from ICC Austin, Texas

In summary, the ILC Annual Gathering was another great event that went off without a hitch. Click here for more information about our next Annual Inclusive Leadership Co-operative Gathering being planned for 2018.