A year of supporting remarkable change makers

What a year 2015 has been! As Project Director, I am amazed and deeply gratified to be a part of what you - the Inner Activist community - has accomplished. Here are just a few of my highlights from this past year.  

 The remarkably diverse group of change makers who took time away from their work to rejuvenate themselves and engage in our programs.

 Inner Activist teaching faculty who took part in challenging, innovative and creative dialogues with each other in order to evolve the practical relevance of our programs for change makers.

 Our Outreach & Engagement program which as taken our personal and supportive approach even deeper by prioritizing meaningful and trust building conversations with interested participants to better clarify their needs and find out how our courses can serve them.

The first highlight is clearly reflected in our three 2015 programs. Each has been full of brilliant, diverse and creative change makers. Just check out the photo above taken in November of our Conscious Use of Power cohort. What an amazing bunch! (Photo credit: Martin Wale).

Through each course, I have witnessed countless deeply supportive relationships develop between front line change makers working with youth and marginalized communities, union leaders, people within government, social enterprise and environmental organizations. I have seen their courage, curiosity, and compassion as they openly engage, share and learn new ways of tackling the challenges they face in the hard work of creating meaningful change in the world.

I recall one participant sharing with me that during Building Personal Mastery, they had come to the realization they were avoiding a very challenging conversation they needed to have with their employment supervisor. Working through this scenario with others in the course, they explored how they had been contributing to this long-standing situation. Together they worked through how to use new tools such as ‘humanizing the supervisor’, 'exploring common needs' and 'checking all assumptions' within the situation.

Experiences like these that are food for my soul as I witness how Inner Activist courses continue to transform change makers' ability to understand themselves in relation to others and the work they do, in order to be more effective in the world.

The second highlight I am energized by is the creative and bold work of the Inner Activist faculty and their openness to reflect on participant feedback and their own experience in delivering their programs. They are a small group of thoughtful and committed folks engaged around a simple yet complex idea: creating a learning space that supports passionate change makers dedicated to creating a just and sustainable world. Facilitation teams, in the fire of group process, continue to learn how to create safe environments -- allowing for challenging and transformative dialogues across power differences.

Behind the scenes they ensure our curriculum is relevant, challenging and transformative. They engage in difficult conversations that challenge their own understand of the tough issues facing change makers so they can embody and model the learning experiences they offer to participants.

The third highlight is the continual refinement of how we reach out to change makers. We work hard to develop and deepen relationships through our outreach program and to ensure financial barriers can be overcome through our bursary and organization scholarships.  We have expanded opportunities to connect through regular webinars, in-person events and lunch-and-learn workshops. This has been complemented by operational changes designed to ensure the experience of attending our programs is seamless and rejuvenating.

As we move into 2016, I am eager to work with our team to build upon these essential trends to open Inner Activist courses to an increasing number of change makers. I look forward to more conversations about the essential work each of you engage in and how we can be of service. To assist us in this challenge, we are welcoming a new Outreach & Enrollment Coordinator, Suzanne Nievaart to join our team! Stay tuned for that announcement… 

To ensure we have a strong base of resources to support our work, the Inner Activist will also embark on a major fundraising effort in 2016. Our focus will be on strengthening our bursary and organization scholarship fund to ensure change makers, particularly from marginalized and underrepresented groups, continue to have access to our programs. We will also focus on ensuring the sustainability and recognition of our faculty as they strive to be responsive to the needs of the communities we serve by evolving and expanding our program offerings. We hope you will support us in this key endeavour!

In closing, here are some words from a few of our phenomenal participants in 2015:

Building Strong and Respectful Relationships did not resolve my concerns or give me the answers that I was yearning for. Instead, it gave me a set of practices to use when I am solving my problems on my own. –  Sarah Sheridan, Next Up Alumni, Building Strong & Respectful Relationships 2015 participant

The many external pressures impacting our organizations can wear us down. None of us are immune to burnout, anger and cynicism. In our fight to do the right thing, we must look after ourselves. Building Personal Mastery is a great way to begin – or continue – the work of unpacking our stuff, of becoming clearer about our egos, and of boldly stepping into the metaphoric fire of personal transformation. –  Loren Crawford,  Organizing Program Officer, Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC),  Building Personal Mastery 2015 participant

Attending this program has enriched my understanding of the world in which I live and work, and has helped me increase my relational capacity -- most importantly with myself. – Humaira Hamid,  Business Development Manager, Futurpreneur Canada, Conscious Use of Power 2015 participant

How great is that?!

Happy New Year everyone!