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Learning to Listen - Becoming an Outreach Organizer

I'm Alicia Neptune, a Communications Student at Capilano University and a Summer Jobs student here at the Metro Vancouver Alliance. As the summer draws to a close, I'm reflecting on my experience working as an Outreach Organizer.

Back in the spring, I took a qualitative research class in which our focus was housing affordability in Metro Vancouver. The lead organizer of the MVA, Deborah Littman, came to speak to the class about community organizing. I recall making the connection that qualitative research and community organizing shared a key component - listening. In that class, we spoke to fellow Capilano students about issues that impacted them, like transit and housing, and for the first time in a while, I felt a sense of community on campus.

As a part of the MVA team this summer, listening and community have been the focus of my work.

Read more

RISE Video

New video by MVA member organization ALIVE about their Responsible Indigenous Strategic Empowerment-Aboriginal life In Vancouver Enhancement (RISE-ALIVE) program, a project working towards building inclusive, engaging and reflective community centres here in Vancouver, supporting the broader principles of Reconciliation In Action through pragmatic steps.
Please view it and share with your networks.

Reconciliation in Action - June 19, 3:00 - 6:00

Raycam Community Centre,

920 E. Hastings St.

Culture, Food, Fun!

A Community Aware Forum - April 21st Through May 5th, 2015@ the Longhouse First United Church


Where is Tommy Douglas when we need him ?

Our Social Programs, influenced by “The Social Gospel Movement”, show how Political Values and Compassion can be joined.  Lets revisit:

  • The history of the “Social Gospel Movement”
  • Its Social Policy legacy

                       And ask

  • What does the future hold ?

April 21st Through May 5th, 2015:  3 Tuesday Nights

At the Longhouse First United Church

2595 Franklin Street at Penticton: 7:00 to 9:00 pm

(Franklin Street runs parallel to Hastings one block north of Hastings)

Registration by email to

Cost: Small donation to defray costs



Theatre for Living presents MALADJUSTED @ The Firehall Arts Centre from March 20th -28th


maladjusted is back by popular demand for 9 shows ONLY!

“maladjusted, is a thought-provoking, gut-wrenching, funny, sad and mind broadening journey inside the hierarchical and mechanical mental health system-a system that leaves little time or money to invest in the people it is trying to serve.” Patty Osborn,

For short videos of the cast please click here 

Theatre for Living (TfL) has been creating cutting edge, controversial and hard-hitting theatre since 1981. Formerly known as Headlines Theatre, TfL takes its new name from Artistic Director David Diamond’s innovative practice that has come to define the company’s work. This year, TfL’s legacy continues with maladjusted, created in 2013, touring into 26 communities across BC & Alberta and culminating in 9 Vancouver performances at the Firehall Arts Centre.


maladjusted engages audiences with powerful images and authentic voices weaving together three very personal narratives:

- A teenager struggling with sadness over her friend’s suicide is misdiagnosed by her doctor and put on prescription drugs;  

- a young homeless man who is legitimately taking prescription meds gets inadvertently thrown into dangerous circumstances by frustrated social workers, who from within a mechanizing system, are trying their best to help him; 

- finally, there is all of us, unable to adjust to the needs of a maladjusted mental health sector, who become potential agents for change. 

How can we support human-centered care? What needs to be done to ensure safety for patients and caregivers? How do we sustain a healthy mental health system? These are just a few questions that maladjusted explores. 

“David Diamond is an international treasure.” Mark Leiren- Young, Vancouver Sun

 Change is needed in the way we view and deal with mental health. Here is an example in which Mayor Gregor Robertson and Police Chief Jim Chu talk about compassion not stigmatization in the Vancouver Sun (Sept 16, 2013). And another: Exposing Canada’s ugly mental health secret in the Globe and Mail (Oct 13, 2013). The issue has not gotten better. A year after Vancouver declared a mental health crisis, cases continue to climb (Globe and Mail (Oct. 23, 2014). A potentially positive step is being taken with the recently announced plan to re-open Riverview Hospital as a holistic mental health care facility, as reported on Global News (June 17, 2014) and in Vancity Buzz (Dec. 9, 2014). There are many more examples for the urgency for change.


maladjusted is an authentic voice of patients and caregivers that speaks to the heart of these issues, while using the theatre to seek concrete human and systemic change.


The cast & crew: maladjusted brings six original and relevant voices to the stage:  Original cast members Micheala Hiltergerke, Pierre Leichner, Martin Filby and Sam Bob* are joined by Christine Germano & Columpa Bobb*, combining shared wisdom and unique lived experiences. The director of maladjusted is David Diamond, recipient of the Otto René Castillo Award for Political Theatre in NY (2010) and the Mayor’s Arts Award for Community Engaged Art (2012) as well as numerous other awards. He leads a talented design and technical team including: Technical Director Elisha Burrows, Technical Lighting Director Tim Cardinal, Stage Manager Dorothy Jenkins*, Set/Props Designer Yvan Morissette, Sound/Video Designer Candelario Andrade, Lighting Designer Gerald King, Costume Designer Carmen Alatorre, and crew person, Robyn Volk                                                                        *Appear through the generous support of Canadian Actors’ Equity Association.


Cast members brought rich and unique real-life experiences as patients and caregivers from within the mental health system to the original creation and performance of this Forum Theatre production.


Forum Theatre: is an opportunity for creative, community-based dialogue. The play is performed once, all the way through, so the audience can see the situation and the problems presented. The story builds to a crisis and stops, offering no solutions. The play is then run again, with audience members able to “freeze” the action at any point where they see a character engaged in a struggle. In maladjusted this means trying to receive or give human-centered care and failing. An audience member yells “stop!”, comes into the playing area, replaces the character s/he sees struggling, and tries out his/her idea to create human-centered care. The other characters respond, not to “make it better”, not to “make it worse”, simply to be truthful, drawing on their own lived expertise. What insights do we have? What do we think? What do we learn? Who agrees? Who disagrees? In this way we engage in a creative and action-based dialogue about issues in our lives. The process is fun, profound, entertaining and full of surprises.


Global Interactive Webcast: maladjusted will culminate in a live, interactive, global webcast on Saturday March 28th 2015 at 8pm PST. TfL has been pioneering interactive tele/webcasting since 1986. Audience “interventions” come from all over the world.

For media Inquiries please contact: Dima Alansari, Publicist P: 604.871.0508 c:604.961.7924 // For photos of maladjusted please click here

For short videos of the cast please click here



YES! for Transit • YES! for Eco-Justice

MVA member Dr. Nigel Haggan, of the Eco-Justice Unit of the Anglican Diocese of New Westminster wrote this op-ed for the parish newsletter.

The context is erosion of public transit in the Lower Mainland. The issue is the forthcoming vote on the Mayor’s transit funding plan, and I’ll get to that after a brief reroute through Eco-justice.

Justice is a right to physical, emotional, spiritual and intellectual safety and well-being. Eco-justice recognizes that the well-being of people, plants, animals, lands and waters are deeply connected. The core message of all major religions is love and justice for the sick, poor, hungry, imprisoned and otherwise oppressed. If we follow Sallie McFague and Leonardo Boff in considering nature as the “new poor,” all scripture relating to the poor must now be interpreted to include humans and non-humans together.

This is the heart, soul, mind and strength of the World Council of Churches’ Statement on Ecological Debt, the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

Increasingly, world religious leaders are reaffirming something that Aboriginal people never forgot. That is that covenant or the Golden Rule extends to all creation. Sallie McFague’s “new poor” shocks us out of our “false anthropology” of entitlement to all we can afford. Covenant forbids us to condescend, either to humans as “poor” or to non-humans through the epithet of “conservation.” Biology teaches us that we owe a debt to the most ancient life forms that persist in our DNA. Ecology teaches us that we live in a company of relationships
— of beings, connections, spaces, lifegiving flows of air and water, music, voices and resonances. Eco-justice requires that we cherish and protect our human and nonhuman relatives. BC has a large “ecological debt” in the shape of depleted forests, fish and wildlife. BC has an enormous debt to Aboriginal people, acknowledged, but subverted by a glacially slow treaty process.

Eco-justice would endow Aboriginal people with the resources and responsibility of restoration. Eco-justice would create vibrant and diverse local economies that reflect love as well as need.

Applied to public transit, eco-justice requires a broad and long view of “costs and benefits”:

• Transit — the ability to move — is a human right. No one questions the right of those that can afford cars to travel for work or play.
• Transit is a public service, a convenience to the affluent, but a necessity for the disadvantaged. There is no need for a public service to make a profit, as witnessed by public outrage at attempts to privatize Medicare.
• More private cars accelerate global climate change and reduce air quality. Air pollution kills 21,000 Canadians every year, 9 times the number killed in car accidents — rich and poor get equal treatment.
• Traffic congestion costs work time and contributes to chronic and acute stress
— road rage, inattention and accidents.
• More cars increase wear and tear on roads and bridges and increase enforcement costs.
• Traffic noise and volume reduce use and enjoyment of public spaces.

Short-Term Action: Vote Yes!

Help people register to vote! At home, in your neighbourhood, schools, church, gym, coffee shops, workplace and organizations. Show our provincial government that we care about affordable accessible, safe transit for all, but especially for the most marginalized. That we care about justice for the environment. That we care about justice for those least able to pay to get to work, play and visit with their loved ones. To have a chance to enjoy Super Natural BC.

Long-Term Action

We want government to live up to the longterm commitment implicit in the carbon tax. We want government to honour their commitment to match the long-awaited Compass system to London’s Oyster card that is free for children, students, seniors and the disabled and subsidized for job seekers and apprentices. With no requirement to “tap out” on buses.

I am confident that a full analysis of social, economic, environmental and spiritual (amenity) benefits would justify substantial increases in service and a substantial fare reduction. Short-term research funds could be sought from Eco-Justice Canada, David Suzuki Foundation and many other conservation organizations. In the long-term, a full social-environmental economic spiritual accounting would be an excellent Masters or PhD project.

No world-class transit.
No world-class city.
No rider left behind!

Vancity and the Living Wage

Vancity Credit Union, one of MVA's supporting organizations, has been a Living Wage employer since 2011. Vancity recognizes that paying a living wage allows individuals and families to meet their basic needs and contribute to their communities and that a Living wage means strong local economies, sustainable cities and healthy communities.

Check out the video to find out more ...


PSAC BC and Metro Vancouver Alliance: Finding common ground and working for the common good.

PSAC members in BC are actively involved with the work of Metro Vancouver Alliance, a broad based alliance of community groups, labour, faith and educational institutions, all working together for the common good.

MVA was founded in 2009 and is comprised of almost 40 affiliated organizations, representing 200,000 people in the Greater Vancouver area. Members of MVA come from all walks of life: union locals, faith congregations, youth groups, neighborhood houses, co-ops, academic departments and community non-profits.

Jamey Mills, President of the Vancouver Area Council, explains:

“Our Area Council was one of the founding members of MVA almost five years ago. We thought it was important that PSAC, as an organization, be involved with bettering our communities and that we reach out to non-traditional partners. By working together on common issues, we will be more effective at creating positive change.”

There are community alliances like MVA in the US, Canada, Germany, Australia, New Zealand, and notably in England, where Citizens UK – a group based on the MVA community organizing model – persuaded the London Olympic Games Committee to become a living wage employer and is at the forefront of the City of London Living Wage Campaign.

These broad-based community organizations operate on the principle of ‘power before program’. In other words, they build strong relationships amongst diverse groups in the community, come together to listen to their members’ concerns, agree on issues that can be worked on together, and then move forward with a campaign.

Jennifer Horsley, a member of UPCE Local 20095, got involved with MVA after attending a listening workshop.

“I thought it was really amazing that such diverse and sometimes divergent groups could come together and end up talking about the same issues.” she says, “I think the PSAC BC should be involved because this is a movement that has a lot to offer us in terms of learning to listen to our members – not just about workplace issues – but about things that affect all of us.”

On March 19, 2014, dozens of representatives from each member organization, 600 people in total, will gather at Metro Vancouver Alliance’s Founding Assembly, where the results of the listening workshops will be announced, and the first MVA campaign will be launched.

Tracy Shudo, a PSAC member who works at Service Canada, will be there.

“When I became involved with MVA I was really surprised that there are so many other groups out there, working on some of the same issues as the labour movement. Affordable childcare and housing, fair wages, income inequality, retirement security, the environment. These are all issues that we all care about and we can all work together on.”

Tracy sums it up: “Together we’re stronger.”

For more information about MVA, visit or check out their Facebook page. If you’re a PSAC member in the Lower Mainland who would like to get involved, or attend the founding meeting, March 19, contact Jamey Mills.

Member Institutions Accomplishments IAF Northwest


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