On Nov 9 and Nov 10, I participated in an IAF-organized seminar on the future of work in Phoenix, Arizona. The seminar was led by the MIT professor Paul Osterman, who delivered the material in an engaging and accessible way. The audience was geographically diverse, including representatives from California, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nebraska, Iowa, and British Columbia.
Despite an increase in low-wage jobs over the last decade and a hostile organizing environment (only 6.5% of private sector workers in the US are unionized), Osterman’s message was an optimistic one. He argued that unemployment will decline as baby-boomers continue to retire, and declining unemployment will give workers additional bargaining power, both in the United States and Canada. Since this trend is already becoming visible, Osterman advised that now would be a good time to lift health care assistants out of poverty, win living wage campaigns in our cities, and improve lives of residential construction workers who are often missclassified as independent contractors. In essence, it’s a good time to be an activist.
This was my first time to attend an IAF seminar. Knowing that an MIT professor would be lecturing, I went in with high expectations. Osterman certainly delivered; his presentations and ensuing discussions made my inner geek happy. What I did not expect was that the audience would consist solely of organizational leaders, many of whom were professional organizers. I had never before seen a room full of individuals who are ready at a moment’s notice to deliver a rational speech, act out an emotional anecdote, or make the room laugh. Was this lucid expressiveness an example of a highly refined social sensibility, or of a martial art? Whatever the answer might be, knowing that these people are out there, fighting for the common good, is both comforting and inspiring.
When not in lectures, seminar attendees would spontaneously meet with each other. These relational meetings made me friends. They also boosted my understanding of political and demographic complexities as they appear across a large chunk of the continent. Many of these discussions are still with me, as I think about opportunities facing Metro Vancouver Alliance, and my union, CUPE Local 23.
Government of British Columbia has kept its promise to MVA leaders to legislate a poverty reduction strategy!
In 2017, John Horgan and Andrew Weaver stood before 800 MVA leaders and committed to legislate a poverty reduction strategy. This week, the legislation passed unanimously!
Congratulations to MVA leaders, BC Poverty Reduction Coalition and the thousands of British Columbians who worked tirelessly for over a decade to make this happen! A huge win for the common good. Now the real work continues in encouraging a bold and comprehensive plan to be announced next year!
On September 8th, MVA Leaders gathered for a retreat to evaluate the past work and explore our collective vision for the future.
We identified our values and reminded ourselves of our relational, learning and action-oriented focus as we work together as civil society organizations for the common good.
Our key strengths are building relationships across sectors, holding large public actions and campaigning on important issues. We tend to focus on political action, and have a lot of action coming up this fall as we continue to follow up on our provincial accountability assembly and meeting with candidates for the municipal election. Our next action is meeting with Minister Carole James on the provincial budget on October 11th.
While political action is important, we would like to strengthen our action teams by engaging in deeper listening insider our member organizations, and building understanding and relationships between us.
We reached consensus to plan next year around 3 key areas:
1. Building deeper connections within organizations
MVA Leaders identified internal organizing and relationship building as both a strength and weakness of our current structure. Leaders have a desire for more opportunities to relate with each other within organizations and between organizations. We proposed 3 ways to work on this into 2019 - host a table talk discussion for your members, build a core team, and attend the faith, labour or community caucus meeting.
Building a Core Team
A core team is a collective of leaders within an organization that have been through the IAF leadership training and are implementing the practices by connecting with your members, identifying leaders and strengthening the culture of your organization. We will be having quarterly trainings for core team members throughout 2019.
Would you like to join this cohort starting in January? email email@example.com to be put on the mailing list.
Host an MVA Table Talk discussion!
Our housing, transit, social inclusion, economic justice and community healthcare teams research action teams are hard at work but in order to understand the impacts of these issues, we need to hear from your members! Research action teams will be connecting back to member organizations to ensure our community experience is reflected in policy development. Our affordable housing team is ready to come to your organization now. Host a meeting with one of our research action teams is a great way of engaging your members on their interests!
Labour Caucus: Nov 8th
After an energizing first meeting, Stephen von Sychowski, President of VDLC and Kari Michaels, Executive Vice-President BCGEU are chairing the next Labour Caucus meeting on November 8th at 6pm at VDLC. We will be sharing best practices for connecting with our members. Please RSVP
Faith Caucus : Early 2019
We will be convening the first MVA Faith Caucus in early 2019. Would you like to attend or be part of the planning team? firstname.lastname@example.org
Community Caucus : Early 2019
- If you would like to help plan the caucus of community organizations , please email email@example.com
2. Financial Sustainability
Hundreds of volunteers have been involved in MVA this year from our 50+ member organizations but we have only 1 paid staff member. This is not a sustainable situation, so the next few months are dedicated to organizing funding to hire a second organizer and admin support. This means upping our budget to invest in our work to act meaningfully for the common good in Vancouver.
We are evaluating the financial future of MVA and how we can work together towards a healthy budget in 2019 and beyond. We have been saying we need a second organizer for over 5 years and this is the year we will put serious steps in place raise the money for it. A fundraising campaign will launch before the end of the year.
If you want to build your fundraising skills, we've got lots of workshops planned to share knowledge between our members on how to raise money for organizations and projects. Here's what we have coming up:
How to Raise Money for Anything with fundraising expert Bob Connolly
Friday November 30, 2018 - RSVP
Congregational Finances with expert Bob Connolly
Friday November 30, 2018 - RSVP
3. Expanding diversity of organizations
Mapping our membership and expanding our membership to truly reflect all people who make up our communities is a key priority for 2018. Although our organizations have diverse memberships, it tends to be the same people who regularly attend MVA events. We collectively voiced that we need to prioritize welcoming new people from different perspectives into our work and decision making and will be making a plan at our coming meetings to think about how to do this in each of our actions in the coming year.
Deepening the work we've started on decolonizing our training curriculum, building relationships with indigenous advisors and welcoming change to the way we've always done things. We are in a process of evaluating how we teach and practice organizing on Coast Salish Territory alongside our sister organization Greater Victoria Acting Together who is undergoing a similar transformation. Many of our members are reading the TRC 94 Calls to Action and are implementing the recommendations in their congregations, unions, community groups and neighbourhoods. If you would like to be involved in taking this project further, please email firstname.lastname@example.org to be put in touch with the team lead.
Thank you to BCGEU for hosting us at this retreat and to all the MVA leaders and organizations that contributed their energy into creating our strategic plan.
Retreat follow-up: November 24, 2018
We will be mapping our our 2019 plans as they relate to these 3 priorities on November 24, 2018 at PSAC. This meeting is available to all members of MVA member organizations. RSVP
If you are interested in joining MVA and would like to attend as an observer, please email email@example.com.
November 1, 2018 - MVA Leaders from BCGEU, UNITE HERE 40, Anglican Diocese of New Westminster Eco-Justice Unit, CUPE 23, ATU Local 1724 met with Mayor-elect Mike Hurley to discuss how we as civil society organizations might work together with the new Burnaby government in the shaping of Burnaby's future.
We secured a commitment to work together on the City of Burnaby becoming a living wage employer. Mr Hurley also agreed to support our affordable transit and housing proposals.
Major topics of discussion included addressing the housing crisis, initiating work on anti-poverty measures such as the living wage for the city, and ensuring that those in need have access to affordable public transit. We look forward to working with Mayor Hurley as well as to building strong working relationships with other members of the city council.
Special thanks to MVA's Burnaby Chair, Denis Boko from CUPE 23 for coordinating this meeting 11 days after the election. Mike Hurley was elected Mayor of Burnaby on October 20th, 2018 and will be sworn in on November 5th.
If you are an MVA member who would like to get involved with our Burnaby team, we invite you to our next meeting on November 15, 2018 at 6pm in Burnaby. Location to be confirmed. Please RSVP.
We also welcome new organizations in Burnaby to learn more about joining the MVA.
Would you like to meet members from other MVA organizations?
For many MVA members, meeting people from across civil society is one of the most important and meaningful reasons we participate in MVA.
The relationships we build are what keep our alliance strong and able to act in solidarity with each other.
We've already matched up 42 people who have committed to sit down with each other for a conversation over the summer.
If you would like to sign up to be paired with a member from another organization please email firstname.lastname@example.org
I’m so sorry that I can’t be at Pat’s memorial mass tomorrow. All I can do is pass on a few thoughts for the MVA gathering.
I first met Pat when I was visiting Vancouver in 2009. She was among the group working to bring the vision of Metro Vancouver Alliance into being. Her enthusiasm shone through then and never wavered with all the ups and downs and frustrations of our early years. Pat had a remarkable combination of warmth and humour, joy and curiosity (which led her to do fascinating things) with a tenacious determination to achieve her objective.
When she despaired of getting the organizations she loved to join MVA, she got herself onto the board and used her considerable political skills to win people over. She was always so proud of all of the MVA organizations she was from and declared that she would never join any group that was not a member (or that she couldn’t convince to join).
I’m glad that I had a chance to spend time with Pat while she was in hospital. Deb and I visited her just before I left for Toronto and were cheered by her optimism and good spirits. Deb asked whether a chaplain had been to see her. Pat said that there was no need, she had so many priests visiting her, bringing her food and ferrying her home.
Pat was a dear friend and a colleague, political ally and collaborator. The gap that she leaves in all of our hearts will never be filled.
With much sorrow and affection,