VCC and E4A: Highlights from a New Staff Member

 Lee Stevens and Evelyn Good Striker(Lee Stevens and Evelyn Good Striker)

It’s been three months since I was hired as Vibrant Communities Calgary’s (VCC) newest Community Engagement Specialist, and I am eager to sit down for some reflection.

Prior to my hire I had a solid understanding of the Enough for All (E4A) strategy, as I was a member of the financial empowerment collaborative.  However, I did not fully comprehend VCC’s backbone role in E4A, and was truly amazed at what had been accomplished by this small organization.  It wasn’t until I saw the governance map that I realized not only how many stakeholders where working together, but how under the collective impact model they were achieving the E4A goals.  It’s impressive how far we have come since 2013.

The Basic Income steering committee, the Indigenous Gathering Place committee, and Poverty Talks! all come to mind when thinking about the highlights.  I believe basic income is a game-changer when it comes to poverty reduction, not a panacea to ending poverty, but it will have a significant impact nonetheless.  And Poverty Talks! an amazing group of people who have already taught me so much about engaging people with lived experience in poverty reduction work.  The members of poverty talks are not only passionate about ending poverty but experienced in political processes, collective impact, and collaborating as a team towards social change.  Through my work with the Poverty Talks members, I have been introduced to some incredible organizations, namely the Alex Community Food Centre, and the Calgary Women’s Centre.  It’s my opinion that these two organizations have embraced the true meaning of delivering services with dignity.

I have also spent a great deal of time with my co-worker Pamela Beebe, VCC’s Indigenous strategist who has been introducing me to some of Calgary’s Indigenous led groups and committees including VCC’s own Indigenous Advisory Committee.  I have truly enjoyed my time meeting everyone, sharing some laughs, and learning about how their work contributes to the Indigenous strategy.  These committees operate under traditional processes and protocols where the smudge is the gavel, a blessing is made before the meeting begins, and consensus is required for decision making.  It’s pleasing to me that more organizations are making efforts to adopt Indigenous processes, and ways of doing business.  Stay tuned for more blogs on Basic Income and the Indigenous Gathering Place.

– Lee Stevens

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