I've been involved in the ILC since 2015 and started in the Coordinator position in September 2019. Inclusive Leadership is inspiring because of the stories people share about their relationships and work teams transforming when they introduce IL skills.
In November 2019, the Inclusive Leadership Co-operative was one of many organizations that hosted an independent community meeting to explore ways to build a better B.C. for people with disabilities and provide feedback for the Provincial Accessibility Legislation. Following is information about the act being proposed for legislation.
We are pleased to let you know that the Honourable Nicolas Simons, Minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction recently introduced the Accessible British Columbia Act. If passed, this proposed legislation will set British Columbia on the path to a more accessible and inclusive province for people with disabilities. In particular, the proposed legislation will allow government to establish accessibility standards to support the identification, prevention, and removal of barriers to accessibility and inclusion.
We want to express our sincere thanks to the thousands of British Columbians who provided input on the development of the proposed legislation. Public engagement and consultation will remain a priority as government develops regulations and standards to address the barriers people with disabilities face.
Accessibility Secretariat Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction (Victoria, B.C.)
My connection to the Inclusive Leadership Cooperative goes back almost a decade. Our family moved to the Cowichan Valley from the Nanaimo area in the summer of 2012. At the time our four youngest children included three BIPOC children. Perhaps because of this visible diversity in our family (or maybe just knowing we would love the connection) a local friend suggested I bring the kids to the Multicultural Leadership Group. This was an amazing after school weekly gathering held at a church hall, and hosted by the Cowichan Intercultural Society from 2002 to 2012. We soon became regular attenders and it was one of the most welcoming elements of our new community. It was multicultural and multigenerational and we did indeed find a home there.
Attending an Inclusive Leadership Cooperative week-end gathering was hugely inspiring. I (usually along with a couple of my kids) attended events at the Cowichan Lake Education Centre and at OUR Ecovillage. Getting together in these weekend events, sharing food, education and experiential activities was a powerful way to connect and learn from one another. Although dates seem a blur to me now (the aged brain not being what is was), I find myself in a photo of the Annual General Meeting of the Inclusive Leadership Cooperative in August of 2014, and eventually I joined the Board of Directors. The vision and mission of the organization aligned with mine and I was grateful to have found them and be part, in a small way, of something with such potential for changing lives and beyond.
To give context to my life, I spent a year in the Cote d’Ivoire in 1976/77, living and working in a diverse community. I came home with strong views on the injustices of the world (my parents lived in a 4 bedroom house with a pool and ate meat every day – this was in distinct contrast to how I had lived in Africa) and there is no doubt this experience was foundational in my desire to live differently.
Fast forward and I married and my partner and I became parents to birth children as well as adopting from the foster care system. Becoming parents is a learning curve for most folks; adopting children with diverse heritage, experiences and needs proved an even bigger one.
I know that we learned as we went along: to quote Maya Angelou “Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.”
Along the way sometimes when the system didn’t provide what was needed for our kids we helped make it happen. An example of this is the Coco Cafe in Cedar, BC. The Coco Cafe is the direct result of the efforts of some local families who started meeting in 2004. We were seeking opportunities for our children with disabilities who were quickly becoming adults to have supportive work environments in our community. Eventually, in 2011 the Coco Cafe opened in Cedar, as a cooperative with the goal of providing socialization and work opportunities for our adult children with developmental disabilities. The Cafe is still alive and well, meeting original goals as well as being a hub in the community for people to come for coffee and a meal as well as expanding to do catering all over the central Island. Being a small part of the creation of this social enterprise makes me recall that famous Margaret Mead quote “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has”.
Being able to effect change in the world, whether in your own family, neighbourhood, town, country or even across the world is an incredible gift.
The Inclusive Leadership Cooperative offers that opportunity to those who are willing to participate and learn. Sadly the pandemic has put a halt to face to face gatherings which are indeed incredible ways to share our experiences with one another. Hopefully these will be able to resume in the future.
Meanwhile, those who have not already taken the online Discover Your Inclusive Leadership Potential can do so at any time. It’s a great way to learn and you can do it from anywhere.
Just imagine if we can, our world(s) as more inclusive and connected. Believe it if you can.
New year, new projects, new people… Whatever your reason – giving back, learning, having fun – join us in embracing the diversity in all living beings as gifts that enrich our world.
Discover Your Inclusive Leadership Potential (DYILP) online course team:
Position/Role: Administrator – Liaise with ILC Coordinator to keep the course enrolled and running smoothly. Tasks: Register new students and follow up with them; create certificates of engagement and completion; update the site and/or learning material. Commitment: 2 hrs / week Experience: Inclusive Leader with previous ILC experience such as DYILP or weekend workshops. Familiarity with database software and website management is an asset. Some training provided. Willing to learn as you go.
Position/Role: Mentor – engage with students on the discussion forum. 2 hrs / week Experience: Inclusive Leader with previous ILC experience such as DYILP or weekend workshops. Training provided.
Position/Role: Migration Project Lead – Our Thinkific site needs to be updated to a “new theme” by April 5, 2121, using the Thinkific migration tool. Liaise with the ILC Coordinator and DYILP Administrator and possibly Thinkific support staff. Commitment: approximately 4 – 5 hours for completion Experience: Experience with websites is an asset. No training available. Willing to learn as you go.
Position/Role: Grant Team Member – collaborate with ILC Coordinator and other team members to search and apply for appropriate grants. Tasks: Search for grants, determine ILC eligibility, liaise with funder, co-write applications. Team meetings on Zoom. Commitment: 4 hrs / week for 6 months (may vary week to week) Experience: Inclusive Leader with previous ILC experience such as DYILP or weekend workshops.
Position/Role: Fundraising Team Member – collaborate with ILC Coordinator and other team members to create a fundraising activity. Tasks: Plan, prepare, execute a fundraiser. Commitment: 2 – 6 hrs / week for 3 – 6 months (may vary week to week) Experience: no experience necessary.
Practice Group Project
Position/Role: Co-Facilitator – collaborate with ILC Coordinator and other team members to coalesce all materials from first two pilot groups and modify into a third pilot. Tasks: Weekly Zoom meetings. Using the curriculum and materials on Thinkific and Website Toolbox discussion forums, plan, prepare and execute and evaluate the 3rd ILC Practice Group pilot. Create the announcement and enroll participants. Commitment: approximately 20 hours to plan and prepare, and another 20 hours to facilitate and evaluate. Experience: Inclusive Leader with previous ILC experience such as DYILP or weekend workshops.
Email List / Mailchimp Project
Position/Role: Data Entry – collaborate with ILC Coordinator to compile emails into the master list in preparation for Mailchimp migration. Tasks: Using Excel enter contacts in Master List. Optional expansion of role: Access ILC Mailchimp account and migrate data for various mailing lists. Tutor the ILC Coordinator on Mailchimp. Commitment: approximately 5 – 10 hours to create master list, and 2 hours to train coordinator. Experience: Microsoft Excel (or training provided). Mailchimp (or learn as you go).
ILC – Nigerian Chapter
Position/Role: Nigerian Chapter Team Member – Liaise with ILC Coordinator, Board Liaison and Nigerian Inclusive Leaders to provide information, peer support and learning opportunities to new and experienced Inclusive Leaders in Nigeria. Tasks: Zoom meetings and other activities to be determined by the Team. Commitment: 1 – 2 hours / week. Experience: Inclusive Leader with previous ILC experience such as DYILP or weekend workshops.
Hunkering down, avoiding close contact with people outside the home, socializing via screens have become daily routine. We are still learning about living this way. It’s not necessarily automatic yet, and likely will never be automatic behaviour. This morning I learned that long held habits die hard. For years I’ve woken up and in my half-sleep, made a pot of English Breakfast tea for my husband and myself. I stopped doing this in April when my husband quit caffeine. I make my tea and his dandelion ‘coffee’. This morning seven months of behaviour was amiss when, in my half-sleep and on auto-pilot I started spooning out the tea as if I were making a big pot to share. “What am I doing?” I thought as I caught myself in the act of an old ritual. Old habits die hard and new habits are hard earned.
All this is coming to mind as I and the Inclusive Leadership Co-operative and people all around the world are thinking about the new year, after the December break. With the vaccine for COVID-19 in our midst, tantalizingly close and whispering the promise of safely stepping out, embracing friends and sharing spaces, we are at risk of launching ‘auto pilot’ mode. I know our old ways of 2019 stretch back thousands of years, and are merely repressed, not gone, just like making a pot of tea to share. So how will all of this impact plans for our coming season?
I’m thinking of balance. January is a classic time to restore balance. Isolation for some might have led to a lack of stimulation. For others shifting work to home and online screen time with colleagues has led to reduced eye movements and burnout. We’ve adopted changes to stay safe during a pandemic and we are still adapting to those changes. As we discover what is good, what is too much and what is missing we can reorganize our daily routines to be a healthy balance of stimulation, rest and recreation for body, mind and spirit. If you are looking for your screen time to be both stimulating and social, I highly recommend ILC’s two online learning opportunities.
Discover Your Inclusive Leadership Potential
An introduction to the four pillars of Inclusive Leadership can be found in Discover Your Inclusive Leadership Potential. With the adjunct discussion forum, this course engages us in researching our own experience so we are learning and discovering our potential at the same time, building community in a cohort of participants.
Click HERE for more information on Discover Your Inclusive Leadership Potential, or contact me: inclusiveleaders @ gmail.com (remove spaces when emailing)
Developing Your Communication Skills
If you are already introduced to Inclusive Leadership through the Discover Your Inclusive Leadership Potential, or a weekend workshop, then Developing Your Communication Skills will be a great way to strengthen your Inclusive Leadership potential. As co-op members learn and grow in their skills, the ILC provides opportunities for emerging facilitators. Join new facilitator, Betty Doherty and veteran, Raj Gill in this interactive course.
“This is great, will definitely make effort to be part of it.” ~Peter O.
Click HERE for more information on Developing Your Communication Skills or to register contact Betty & Raj: raj.gill @ telus.net bdoherty1 @ telus.net (remove spaces when emailing)
The Inclusive Leadership Co-operative has volunteer openings and these will be posted in the coming week. This is another way that balance can be maintained or restored. Being engaged in meaningful action either working collaboratively on a project, or working independently on tasks that help make a worthy organization function well might fit perfectly with your new year plans. Stay tuned for the next post.
A six week course for anyone in the Inclusive Leadership community committed to developing communication skills for building mutually supportive relationships at work and at home.
Participants will practice: Setting an intention Becoming aware of how my thinking impacts my words and actions Building the practice of Self-empathy Develop an authentic connection Reflecting back or asking for reflection Understanding what is important to each party Practicing listening to diverse perspectives Developing space between stimulus and response Setting clear boundaries Distinguishing true feelings from interpretations/thoughts Giving and receiving feedback Building a practice of gratitude and appreciation
Starts: First session – Wednesday, January 20th Last session – Wednesday February 24 from 9:30am to 11:30am PST. Facilitators: ILC members, Betty Doherty and Raj Gill.
To register: email Raj Gill at and Betty Doherty at: raj.gill @ telus.net bdoherty1 @ telus.net (remove spaces when emailing) stating what you hope to get out of the course and what you are willing to contribute to the group. Please plan to attend all 6 sessions and practice the skills in between. We want this course to meet your needs, so the more you practice and bring real life examples to explore, the more we will all learn. This course is about sharing together our experiences of communication and learning to connect more effectively.
It’s not an easy time to have a vision of the future because we are in great flux all around the world. Even the world with it’s once predictable rhythms is in great flux . Near the end of 2018, Inclusive Leadership Co-operative had a vision for the following two years, and we have seen its manifestation in beautiful ways. So here we are approaching the end of 2020, in a changing world, with members who care about influencing this change toward Justice with Integrity, Peace and Respect.
We often see, when a team has a sound and practiced plan, they form a huddle just before putting that plan into action. It’s a way of affirming connection, ensuring cohesion and raising energy so the plan unfolds smoothly and enjoyably.
Some of us might be in a position to rise high above our lives within the workings of the Co-op, as an eagle with it’s acute vision, scanning the field below to identify which direction to fly. Some of us would rather bring the tools and resources we know so well, and huddle to affirm one another in the ways each is living, learning and leading inclusively in each one’s community. Either way, you’re invited to come and share what you see in ILC, what you hope to offer, or what you request, and perhaps together we will formulate some next steps for the ILC community.
Saturday, November 14th, 9:30 – 12:00 noon Pacific Standard Time, on Zoom.
May 10, 1943 – July 24, 2020 Born a 4th generation Californian and growing up in Beverly Hills, John used to jokingly describe himself as consistently downwardly mobile but no less happy for it. Read the obituary.
Many Inclusive Leaders crossed paths with John first in other fields, such as Eco-psychology / Deep Ecology, Behavioural Psychology, Quakers, Cowichan Valley concerns for social and environmental justice including the Cowichan Land Trust. The common thread of John’s work has been building a future and being in the moment. In 2015 he wrote in the Cowichan Valley Citezen “We support schools, save money for our grandchildren’s education, plant trees, recycle, donate to charity, protect land, volunteer, build churches, write letters to the editor, and do other things that offer a very poor payback or no payback at all. We do them because we care about the future, even if we are not likely to be here to enjoy it.” In John’s building, he interwove circles, places, beings, explaining how the structures will be sturdy, resilient and meaningful if built this way. From Cowichan Tribes, a Coast Salish First Nation John learned about The Great Deeds. “It wasn’t about building things, achieving success, or having adventures”, John wrote, “instead, Great Deeds take place in the life of every family: The birth of a child, the growth of a child into adulthood, the transition from adult to Elder, the birth of a grandchild. These were the Great Deeds of life: the actions we take to care for the people around us. It’s such a different definition of great deeds than I was used to.” And yet, build is what John did – for future generations by being in the moment.
As an Inclusive Leader, John introduced many of us to a simple and profoundly impactful exercise — Connecting with Nature. He shared his learning from mentors such as Joanna Macy and Joseph Cornell, and he shared his learning from nature itself. (See video). John helped many of us understand how we can learn from nature, ways to relax, ways to listen, ways to be creative, to be connected, to be filled with grace…because Nature is made up of beautiful beings that we can come to know a little if we take the time to be with them.
Co-founder, Sarah Matheson now in Guelph recalls sitting on John’s and Linda’s deck, looking across the Cowichan Valley to Mt. Prevost, “Every night since John died, I’ve felt drawn to go out on my balcony. All the animal spirits and the sky keep me company in such a live way, and connect me to John and Linda.” ILC Board member, Susan Norris recalls a trust exercise John facilitated during one of the Inclusive Leadership Gatherings. Susan’s exercise partner led her with her eyes closed in a wooded area. When she opened her eyes on cue, her whole visual field was living tree bark – she was that close. Susan says, “I find myself reproducing that experience, going up close to a tree…being in the moment in nature. This is a gift I received from John.” The stories of John introducing us to ways of connecting with nature could fill a book. More importantly, the stories continue to live in us.
Community Builders above all else, John and his partner of 40 years, Linda Hill demonstrated day in and day out how to say “yes” to making a connection. Hosting travelers in their home, choosing and welcoming new family members, and sharing stories, food and music are ways this dynamic duo fostered love and caring in the Cowichan Valley and beyond. Janice Milnerwood in Montreal says, “The most powerful memory is when John and Linda invited us to Thanksgiving dinner — there were so many people, from all walks of life. That really stayed with me. It’s what Thanksgiving is about.”
When we look closely at John’s work, play, love and teachings we can see how it all fits together with great integrity. John was a proponent of The Earth Charter and he clearly lived in accordance with its four pillars: Integrity, Peace, Justice and Respect. He practiced and acted upon these qualities for his children, his grandchildren, his community of people and nature’s beings and he did so by reminding us to live simply, in the moment.
Submitted by Linda Hill and Bonnie Robertson (Reposted July 2019)
Inclusive Leadership can be as simple and magical as a diverse group of people exploring the skill of daring to be different through a co-operative game of “Catch the Difference.” As you read this story, we invite you to think about the times in your life when you have felt safe to share your differences with others and the times in your life when you helped others feel safe to share their differences with you. Continue reading →
Submitted by Alan Cundall, Toronto, Ontario in 2016 (Reposted June 2019)
Inclusive Leaders come from many different backgrounds and bring what they learn at Inclusive Leadership back to many different communities. Alan Cundall has grown up in the Baha’i Faith Community and has experienced unity and inclusivity through his participation and facilitation within Junior Youth Spiritual Empowerment Groups. Alan has also been participating in and facilitating within the Inclusive Leadership community for 7 years now (since 2009). In this post, Alan shares his experiences exploring, sharing and celebrating the parallels between Inclusive Leadership and Junior Youth Spiritual Empowerment Groups. Continue reading →
The other day an email circulated with this question in relation to Inclusive Leadership supporting a collaborative community effort to have local government “declare a climate emergency.” Great question and an action that the co-op may want to take. I offer here a few further reflections.
As I write this blog post, I am sitting outdoors tucked into a little wooded area on the property where I live. From here, I have been enjoying getting to know some of the other local residents: a mother duck and her four chicks, the nightly chorus of frogs who sing to me from the pond, I recently met my first tree frog, occasionally I hear an owl hooting, and one day I was treated to seeing the flashing red vibrating head of a pileated woodpecker. It has been a great delight to meet these neighbours.
Some days; however, I wonder about the former residents who are no longer represented in the visible animal population in this neck of the woods. The ones who use to be plentiful but now are rarely seen. The ones who had to leave because there are no nesting sites; no food sources; few watering holes; their seasonal coat has not shed, and their fur is too warm in these hot early spring days.
Supporting this diverse neighbourhood ecosystem are all the plants and trees that provide food, shelter, homes, shade and meet so many other needs. I am also wondering how they are doing. Last summer was very dry and although we live in a rain forest, this spring we have had a very low rainfall.
Is climate change an inclusive leadership matter? The Inclusive Leadership Co-op endorses the Earth Charter. Inclusive Leadership encourages us to recognize and embrace diversity in all living beings. The Earth is our Mother. The plants and animals are All Our Relations! We are interconnected
Another IL voice adds to the email conversation: “[This concern] is not only inline with the Earth Charter but also inclusive leadership. Climate change will affect marginalized populations much harder than the 1%ers.”
There are so many inter-connections.
One of my mentors I turn to on this topic is Jane Goodall. After many years of being an advocate and voice for Mother Earth, she is often asked: Is there hope? Although she acknowledges it is sometimes hard to be optimistic, in her inspiring book Reasons for Hope, she offers four strong responses to this question:
First, the miraculous ability of the human brain and the potential we have already demonstrated to solve so many challenges once thought impossible.
Second, she reminds us of the amazing resilience of nature if we give her a chance – and a helping hand. She offers numerous stories of how Mother Nature can show us the way. One such example she names comes from right here in the Cowichan Valley! She refers to “a most remarkable forester, Merv Wilkonson” and his work at Wildwood Farm to sustainably manage a 136 acre forest. After “logging” it nine times it still has giant old trees and there are “more animal species there today than when he began.” Wow! So much is possible when we work with Mother Nature!
Third, she takes the view that “hope lies in the new understanding, commitment and energy of young people around the world.” Empowering young people is her contribution to their future and the future of the planet. Inclusive Leadership also upholds this view.
Her fourth pillar of hope is all the amazing and wonderful people “who have set out to accomplish almost impossible things, and because they never gave up, achieved their goals against seemingly hopeless odds.” I know I have certainly met more than a few inspiring people like this at our wonderful Inclusive Leadership gatherings!
Yes, climate change is an inclusive leadership matter – a concern that is deeply challenging and one that connects us all. Embracing the spirit, the skills, and awareness of inclusive leadership is a place of hope, intent and possibility. Yes, government has a role to play, and so do we all in our own little “neck of the woods” in how we live each day!