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Radical Inclusion: Building Communities That Work For Everyone

This podcast was recorded live from the Wisdom Room Stage at the #SheEOGlobalSummit hosted in Toronto, March 9 and 10, 2020.

This session showcases SheEO Activators and Ventures who are rethinking and redesigning our systems and communities to create the conditions for all people to thrive. Prepare to be inspired by panellists BE Alink, inventor of the Alinker; Lisa Yancey, the president of Yancey Consulting and co-founder of SorsaMED and The We’s Match; and Joshna Maharaj, a SheEO activator and chef, moderated by Vanessa Reid, Activator and co-founder of the Living Wholeness Institute.

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TRANSCRIPT

Jessy Wang:

Welcome to SheEO.world, a podcast about redesigning the world. This is a special episode, recorded live at the first ever SheEO Global Summit, hosted in Toronto, Canada, on March 9th and 10th, 2020. The SheEO Global Summit was a two day conference that gathered hundreds of people, in support of the theme reorganize.world. What does this mean? Collectively we have everything we need to make positive change. We took action together at Global Summit and continued working on the world’s to do list, through a variety of sessions. Over the two day conference, guests participated in keynote presentations, wisdom sessions, and get to action workshops, all centered around what we can do to reorganize our resources, systems and structures to create a better world, with SheEO ventures and activators leading the way.

Jessy Wang:

This session is called Radical Inclusion, building communities that work for everyone, and features a diverse panel of powerful voices. Recorded live on the Wisdom Room stage, this panel discussion was moderated by Vanessa Reid, a pioneering practice leader, systems innovator, writer, and participatory process architect who brings her unique leadership and artistry to the field of civil society innovation. Vanessa is the co-founder of the Living Wholeness Institute which works with citizens, teams, organizations and social movements around the globe on initiatives that are transforming broken systems and creating new deeply sustainable social realities.

Jessy Wang:

Our panelists include [BE 00:01:53], the inventor of the Alinker, a vehicle for change and a non-motorized walking bike without peddles. BE leads the Alinker, a SheEO venture, that is helping people reclaim their freedom and Independence. BE is a paradigm shifter, a Dutch designer, architect, and humanitarian. BE’s life practice is reverse design.

Jessy Wang:

Joshna Maharaj, a SheEO activator and chef. Joshna is a two time TEDx speaker, and activist, who wants to help everyone have a better relationship with their food. She believes strongly in the power of chefs and social gastronomy to bring values of hospitality, sustainability, and social justice to the table.

Jessy Wang:

Lisa Yancey, the president of Yancey Consulting and co-founder of SorsaMED and The We’s Match. Lisa’s dedication to supporting equitable outcomes for a systematically disenfranchised people is the seamless thread that binds these companies.

Jessy Wang:

Please enjoy this compelling conversation, showcasing how SheEO activators and ventures are rethinking and redesigning our systems and communities to create the conditions for all people to thrive. Introducing a SheEO wisdom session, Radical Inclusion, building communities that work for everyone.

Speaker 2:

Let’s welcome our moderator, Vanessa Reid to the stage.

Vanessa Reid:

Hi everyone, my name is Vanessa Reid and I’ll just say also [foreign language 00:03:34]. My pronouns are she/her/hers and you can also refer to me as they/their. This is my third summit and I’m an activator. This was the first year I was an activator who did monthly installments because that worked with my economic flow. Just to say that that was a really great option to have that choice. I’m in with SheEO, there’s actually no other place I would rather be than a movement of people, women and people who identify as women, gender non-binary, and those of us who also may be transitioning. But to be in a world where all those diversities really, really matter, all our inner and outers, and we create a new world where we can be more and more of ourselves, and more and more with life. So that’s my in.

Vanessa Reid:

Welcome to the Wisdom Room, and this is a panel. The theme of this one is called Radical Inclusion, building systems that work for everyone. Now I’m going to introduce, and I’m going to stand up to introduce our speakers, or our panel. I’m going to introduce them and then they’ll all come up and you can all clap if you feel like it. The first one is our BE. BE Alink. She is the inventor of the Alinker. BE is an inventor of many things, including her own life. She works with a beautiful concept of reverse design, which we might hear more about. BE is also, you don’t know this, but she is a restoration architect. She’s a bassoon player, she calls herself a multi specialist. BE Alink is with us.

Vanessa Reid:

We have our Joshna Maharaj. Joshna is an activist chef. She works with, get this, social gastronomy, which is a fabulous term. She builds nourishing movements, and movements that nourish us, that connect us with our food, make our institutional food better. She’s a two time TEDx speaker, and her book is out in May. It’s called-

Joshna Maharaj:

Take Back the Tray.

Vanessa Reid:

… Take Back the Tray. Our third speaker is Lisa Yancey, who’s come from the United States and she is an artist of many forms. She’s a dancer and choreographer, she’s a lawyer, and she’s an entrepreneur who does extraordinary things in terms of wealth and health. A lot of her work is connected to generational impact and particularly with black woman entrepreneurs and working with the racial wealth gap. These are our three speakers, come on up. BE, Joshna and Lisa.

Vanessa Reid:

Welcome, welcome. This Radical Inclusion stream, conversation, is in the systems stream. The three of us, the four of us, met and were preparing for this and there was a lot of really important talk about what systems are and what systems could be. The first thing I just want to acknowledge is that there are systems that we have created and that are very much in our world. And there are the systems that are less visible, and have been moving around for centuries and they’re also here with us. Often in our work, and our talk on systems, we’re referring to white supremacy, patriarchy, capitalism, colonialism, these big systems that are very much navigating our world but not only. So this is what we’d like to radically include today, is the work that you’re doing.

Vanessa Reid:

So with that, take a breath, and I’d like to, if I could start with Lisa. Just to start us off, is this concept or practice of radical inclusion, when in your life did you start to get a sense of what this is or could be for you?

Lisa Yancey:

Thank you so much Vanessa, and thank you all for being here today. It’s my first time in Toronto and it’s quite a wonderful first time experience to be welcomed into a tribe of familiar, feeling like you’re energetically and values align with other people. So thank you for that. You know, when you ask that question, Vanessa, the thing that actually comes up for me … I’m from Atlanta, Georgia in the United States, and I’ve lived in New York for the past 20 years. Prior to New York I was in law school in Boston, Massachusets so I’ve pretty much stayed on the East Coast, but travel and work nationally.

Lisa Yancey:

I remember the first time I went to New Orleans, which if I wasn’t living in New York, it probably is the only other city that I could live in in the United States. It was also the first city where I was called a nigger. Likely because I’ve known New Orleanians, that they were like, they weren’t from New Orleans. It was during Mardi Gras. There was this moment of absolute paralysis. It was more like, did that just happen? Were you talking to me? You didn’t have all of this automatic response. And when I think about this notion of radical inclusion, I like to go to the fundamental elements of what it means, because radicalness quite frankly is root. Right? It’s the rad. It’s the root of something, it’s the fundamental thing.

Lisa Yancey:

And inclusiveness is the embrace and understanding of our differences, and being able to not center one particular difference by comparison, but looking at it holistically and equally. That moment gave me a visceral, as a dancer/choreographer, my body is my place of residence. I feel things in my body, I feel things in my gut, I feel things in my breath and my heart. And that was a moment where all of that paused, and it opened up this idea of I am an other to you, and I didn’t really know what that really meant. It really began a journey of understanding this notion of otherness and belonging. And the potential pain one could cause if one adopts another’s perspective of you, as a view that you should embrace for yourself.

Vanessa Reid:

Beautiful. Beautiful. Thank you. Joshna, for you, when does that idea or concept first touch you? Tell us a little bit-

Joshna Maharaj:

Yeah, I feel like there’s so much to say. I love this bit, so I’m going to … my feeling today has been a lot connected to something that we were talking about on Sunday. Right? Because systems change is a mega thing. I’m working on rebuilding the food system. I’m rebuilding culinary systems, how you understand chefs. That’s all very material, real stuff that I’m delighted about. But what I want to talk about here is the sort of flip side of what happens in the interest, and in the effort to rebuild the systems. And we’re in the middle of this right now, where conversations that have never been had before are now on the table, are offered up. What I am seeing as a woman of color in this context, is stuff that formerly was about silence, is now all of a sudden on the table.

Joshna Maharaj:

I have a bit of, there’s like an emotional whiplash that I’m feeling about that because now people are like, “Oh, you also, racism? You too?” I’m like, “What are you talking about? How could I possibly not, with my big mouth in this world there’s no way.” But the thing that really hits me is the amount that we do as women, as women of color, and I think the stakes get higher as you layer on those identities, to suck things up. Right? To suck up exclusion, to suck up not seeing a place for yourself because we got lives to live, we got work to do, we have things that we want to build, we have ideals that we want to see realized, and all of the nonsense that stands in our way would just have us all stay home and hide under the covers really, if we let it. But we don’t.

Joshna Maharaj:

I just turned 44, and I am really exhausted. And it is largely, I think … okay, I’ve taken a big bite. That’s fine. I could just work at a restaurant and make salads and that could’ve been fine. I decided not to do that and I’m going to rebuild the food system instead. Fine, I get it, that’s a lot. However, the brown lady tax that I pay to just be in this world, is expensive. Right? And, I’m never going to see that money back. That was just paying for entry in the room. It’s not like it’s going into some fund and when I’m 84 someone’s going to send me a cheque. It’s not going to happen. So reconciling myself with the fact that that’s the truth too, that I have paid that effort into the wind just to allow myself to be in the room for the conversation.

Joshna Maharaj:

I feel like this is a right now thing, because in these moments where we are all having more conversations to learn about each other, and to sort of wade through this. There’s the unearthed thing of traumas, pain about stuff that was just all locked up in my hips for the last 40 years. It’s like this Pandora’s Box has opened up and I feel a bit overwhelmed in the middle of it all because it’s all work that I have to do. I mean, I could walk around with it all hanging out. I guess I could, that’s an option, but it’s not that graceful, it’s not that comfortable. And we don’t talk enough about the fact that this is a thing. Even just by virtue of the fact that we are women, or most people identify as a woman, you live in this world that’s not built for us. So we have sucked things up.

Joshna Maharaj:

We’re not the right kind of woman, there is this base … it goes on and on and on. And where is that going. It’s going somewhere real. We get super awesome, and I think it’s a bit of a problem when I really think about how skilled I am at just taking that and packing it away because I’m like, I got no time. I got stuff to do and you’re standing in the way, so I’ll listen to your nonsense for three minutes, but my hips are just taking it all in. What’s the end game on all of this, right? And as we consider, the glory in rebuilding systems, I think we got a figure out a way to manage this other piece, to handle the ugly fallout of history and trauma and attempting to level a playing field in some way.

Joshna Maharaj:

I know that it’s my work to do this, accept the fact that there’s no payback for anything, and this is just unfortunately the circumstances of the world we’re in. And maybe if I’m brave enough to sit on a stage and talk about it we are going to get closer to a world where that’s no longer the situation. But that for me seems to be the most pressing thing, because it feels crazy that I’m at this stage and I’m exhausted, and still really struggling to pay bills. These are two things that are wearing my down, man. Really wearing me down. So that’s where I am right now.

Vanessa Reid:

Thank you, Joshna. Let’s take a breath. There’s a lot in that.

Joshna Maharaj:

Thanks, thanks. Thanks for listening to all that.

Vanessa Reid:

Hi BE.

BE Alink:

There were very many things that went through my head listening to you two. When I grew up, I did not fit in the construct of a boy or a girl, so I had to reinvent myself because there was no language for how I felt. Because I reinvented myself I thought I’m so cool with all the differences, and you go into the world and then all of sudden I found myself … and I want to bring up this once instance where I was in a conference a few years ago where the room was divided between the black people there and the Hispanic people here, and the white people here. I was like, what the fuck? A friend of mine who happened to be in the black corner was there, and that nearly felt like I had to sort of bridge a threshold to go to that area.

BE Alink:

As I was there, somebody on stage made us do an exercise, and the exercise was turn to the two people right and left of you and tell them about your heritage. Wherever, how long you think you can think back. I happened to sit with two black women, because I moved over to that corner. They both told me they come from Georgia, amputated past, slavery, do not know where I come from in Africa. The other one a similar story. I said, “Well I come from the same village in the Netherlands until the 1500, as far as we can think back, we’re from the same village.” Then I said, “And it’s so nice to learn about your history.” One of them luckily gave me the gift of leaning forward to me and saying, “That’s your history too.” And I was like, holy fuck.

BE Alink:

It’s not who I think I am, it is who I represent, and if I want to meet people in an inclusive environment, because we talk about inclusion as if we all know what that means, but building an inclusive environment where we all are welcome for exactly the same reasons, because we show up is a completely different thing than an inclusive environment of some kind of mainstream perceived thing that holds up all prison to that system. It means deep, deep inner work to be able to build together an inclusive environment. I can think I’m so cool because dah, dah, dah, and I’ve got it all figured out. I come to the next environment where other people that represent something else and I’m fucked because I didn’t actually know who I met, and what I represent in that environment.

BE Alink:

So inclusion, and radical inclusion for me is doing constantly deep, deep, deep work with myself, who am I, what do I represent, because I really want to know you and what do we need to do to really love each other and be able to meet on who we are and not on what we have.

Lisa Yancey:

May I? Thank you for that BE. As I’m sitting here I think about often we hold things in binaries. Meaning there’s inclusion and in there there’s exclusion. And we are looking at it from a way as if there is an orbit. But all of those are artificial constructs, so we can think about oh, we are included in this city because I come from Atlanta, so then thus I’m included among the Atlantans. I identify in female form and she/her and hers, so I’m included in that space and we can go down the layers of intersectionality. But if we interrogated this notion of binary and operating within these constructions, some of which are social, many of which are economic, define for a purpose, then our ecology, the mix in which the systems of where we organize, is really fluid. So if we hold the fluidity, then even with saying you’re included and excluded, it’s still holding something as center. Even if you’re not identifying it, you’re holding an orbit.

Lisa Yancey:

But if we build our muscle around erasing the lines, and embracing the diversity of ecology as the status, as the now, that technically we’re in relationship to something. There is an interdependence of something, and somewhere, in a myriad of ways, this notion of radicalness of inclusion is to eliminate the notion of inclusion in and of itself because it’s an embrace of the reality that our interdependence and interconnectedness, is the status quo.

Vanessa Reid:

That the interconnectedness is the status quo. That’s very, very powerful.

Joshna Maharaj:

And that’s the normal to return to, that’s the piece. I love that. Thank you.

Vanessa Reid:

Yes, thank you. I wanted to pick up on that and remembering something, BE, that you speak about, which is the dismissed people of today are the leaders of tomorrow. In terms of building or creating, or remembering, community, could you say a little bit about how you’re actually doing that? Because it is kind of radical that you’re working … you’ve got the Alinker, but the kind of communication that you’re building is quite different than what people might expect.

BE Alink:

That sentence that comes from years ago when I started the Alinker, I was like, I have this dream that … A little background. My father died when I was eight and everybody disappeared, and I thought, huh? People disappear? But there I understood as a kid of eight that people disappear because they’re uncomfortable talking about death. That taught me so much about what I do now with the Alinker. So somewhere this sentence came up as I was developing the Alinker, like I am dreaming of this world where dismissed people of today, people that are dismissed today, are our leaders to tomorrow. Because if you’re dismissed, if you’re hit by life, if you’re confronted by life, by whatever confronts you, you actually know a little bit more about life. If I got MS today, and I have to live in this world, then I probably learn a little bit more about life because I get constantly confronted with the notion of other people about you having MS.

BE Alink:

To me, it’s really strange that people that know a little bit more about life are the dismissed ones. How nuts is that? Because the ignorant ones are then the mainstream, and the system that traumatizes us all. So how we built that is we only employ Alinker users and we pay living wages, and if you don’t use the Alinker yet, like finance and operations, they now use Alinkers. Tanya is waiting for the small one but that’s besides the point. And we’re building a farm at the moment because it’s not just about moving, it’s about being in community together, living life together, having access to food that we grow, understanding what it is to live in community. The farm, I always talk about the Alinker as a vehicle for change, and what for me is where we need to go is to build the community together, to live life together, in a community where I understand it. Is that what you meant?

Vanessa Reid:

Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yes. Full disclosure, I live with BE. We live together, we’re life partners and I get a lot of Alinker life in my life. Just a reflection, one of the things I find extraordinary is this invitation for people to self select as leaders for themselves, and to act and initiate something in their lives because they’ve been connected to others who are like them and also not like them. So there’s a community online and in person that is like a self selecting community. And I would say the leadership is believing in themselves by being witnessed and believed in by others. It’s a very powerful thing, and I think the main string there is love and acceptance. That’s the main riverbed. So that’s really, really powerful.

Vanessa Reid:

I think in all three of you, as I’ve been listening and getting to know you, there’s really, really important elements of community that have to do with deep nourishment. Deep nourishment of self and soul, but also a collective nourishment. I wonder if Joshna, you could speak a little bit about that deeper movement that you’re creating around access to food, access to more than that.

Joshna Maharaj:

Yes, thank you. One of the … when I was a younger chef, trying to figure out what was going to be my thing, restaurants I was not interested in right from cooking school, but it was very clear that whatever I was going to do I was going to have to build myself, because it didn’t exist. I really came from this notion that feeding people is an honor and a responsibility, and that sharing food is a really profound opportunity that we have to connect as humans, but those sentiments were not alive in culinary school. And I would get laughed out of class with all of my feel good bullshit.

Joshna Maharaj:

It was very clear that whatever I did I was going to have to turn it off to be that kind of chef. That wasn’t exciting, I really wasn’t into it, but I didn’t know what I was going to do. It’s a tough position when you’re like, I know exactly what I don’t want to do, but I’m not entirely sure what I do want to do. It’s not an easy place to be. So off we’ve gone, community food security has been the right home for me. Throughout all of my work, most recently in public institutions, because we live in a world where our food system is such a distortion of its original self, the ideas and the relationships to food are equally as distorted. So I find myself really, early on, I realized that perhaps the best gift that I can offer with my work is to help people forge a better relationship with their food on an individual level.

Joshna Maharaj:

I don’t actually need to stand in a restaurant and cook expensive plates of food over and over again. There are plenty of fine, lovely people doing that. I’m more interested in what’s going on with us personally. The thing that has really surfaced as an effective tool has been to remind everybody that our relationship with food is about staying alive. Right? The way I say it in my Ted Talk that I gave when I was at Ryerson, I was like, however you understand creation, spiritual, scientific, agnostic, whatever, however you understand it, whoever put us here gave us this awesome situation where beautiful things grow out of the ground that are delicious and keep us alive. However you want to understand it, this gorgeous thing, the raspberries they just show up. You don’t need a meeting, there’s no blueprints, they just grow and you eat them and it’s amazing.

Joshna Maharaj:

That is a really important piece because it helps to reorient your benchmark because in this world where it’s cheapest, fastest, easiest, most reasonable facsimile of something to fill a tank, there’s no life force. There’s no life force in all of the food that is on the trays being served to hospital patients, ironically, there is no life force. That is dead food. The life has been processed and beaten out of it. But, on the other side, when I talk to students who often think that they’ll worry about the food system when they’re proper grownups and have a job, and that’s a later thing, which it’s not at all, I say to them, “Do whatever you want, live however you want to live but stop for one moment and think about the way you eat and the degree to which that does, or does not connect to you to staying alive.” If I could shout something from the rooftops, it would be this.

Vanessa Reid:

Yes, food is life. Yep. Maybe this is our last question before we come to you guys, you women, people. That’s complicated.

Joshna Maharaj:

Folks, folks.

Vanessa Reid:

Inclusion. Radical upgrade. I’m so struck by the many ways you articulate your work and your vocation. This work that comes through your voice, and one of the things is this generational piece, connecting it deep into the past, and these cycles of the past and how they’re present in the future. You also speak beautifully about imagination and creativity so I’m just wondering if you could leave us with what is that work for you? The multi arcs of time? But also the active imagination?

Lisa Yancey:

Thank you for that. I don’t know if you’ve heard the Iroquois principal of seven generations. If you have not, I’m delighted to be the one to share and introduce this principle to you. Basically the principle is saying the things that you do today, ensure that it can sustain seven generations from now. I take that principle and I also take the reality, in the United States, 2019 was a big year because it was 400 years from 1619 when the transatlantic slave trade brought the first Africans who were taken and uprooted from their homes. So we’re 400 years, but when you think about time, and I appreciate you saying this about time because we often feel like this is taking too long, we haven’t moved the needle enough.

Lisa Yancey:

I want to give you some framing. In the United States, 1619 was when Africans were brought to the United States for 254 years after that, before 1865, there was enslavement. 254 of the 400. It was another 100 years before the civil rights voting act came up in 1965. So here we are, in 2020, roughly two generations from the political written right to vote, not the practice, not taking into considering Jim Crow, convict listing. Not to take into consideration redlining, and existing practices that have been stewarded from a socialization of centering constructs around an economic construct that continues to perpetuate otherness, and non inclusivity. In a sense, a parity. Always inclusivity, because the people who were brought here has always been on America’s balance sheet as an asset, but they were never in doubt the benefits of that asset as free labor.

Lisa Yancey:

So, when I think about generational wealth and generational legacy work, and the work that we are doing, one of my partners is in the room, where we hold that this is not just about my lifetime. The work that we’re doing, that you’re working to be radical about, that you’re working to either disrupt, dismantle, build, in an abundance is not just in your lifetime. It takes minimally three generations to get building growth and scaling to the possibility of something to become left as an asset, and one generation to lose it. So if we’re not holding a frame of this work being a multiple generations, then in the essence of time we’re not giving enough roots to the stickiness and staying-ness and understanding that we’re working on culture shift. We’re not just working on policies for the now. We’re not just working on building community to be excited, and this moment, this is not just this moment. This is a moment that’s built upon moments, that will build upon moments.

Lisa Yancey:

Our work is what will future generations say about us today. We hold that as a first generation wealth builder, I don’t know, I won’t really know whether or not I built wealth in my lifetime. It’s not even possible. It is the compound sharing of what I am able to produce and see if it can sustain within the tribe that I associate and identify, perhaps family, perhaps people. Some of us know because we’ve had enough generations. That’s where leveraging, that’s where we’ll use language like, “Own your privilege, leverage it.” It’s not just because you’re doing a favor to anyone. It is understanding the concept of our relationships to what we produced in time.

Lisa Yancey:

So I would like to leave that as a way to think about our work, our time, our now. That this isn’t just a moment. We can identify in plenty of herstories, histories, their stories, of where these semblances have existed. The notion of resilience only exists because someone has been hurt and oppressed, and bounced back. By definition resilience just means you continue to be oppressed, and thus you have to keep showing up. Which is why I always question people and be like, they have so much resilience. But why must they? Right? So I’d like to offer [inaudible 00:35:02] with that. Thank you, Vanessa.

Vanessa Reid:

Beautiful. Thinking about arcs of time, we have about 10 minutes left and we would love to hear some questions. We would love to invite you to also get to your question so that we could hear as much as possible. So if you have your question still percolating, see if you can get it out. But we’re going to start over here. If you’re still thinking you can put up your hand in a second. We’ll start over here, thanks Jody.

Nadia:

Hello everyone. My name is Nadia. I just wanted to … first of all, there’s so much beauty coming from this room and this stage. I’m just so honored to be a part of it here. To get quickly to the question, in that we are trying to build this world where inclusion is the norm, and the word isn’t even necessary anymore, and in terms of working on ourselves, what are your practices for combating the anger that is the first reaction to either experiencing the exclusion yourself, or seeing the injustice of it being shown to others? How do you … that initial gut reaction of anger, how do you get past that to build?

Joshna Maharaj:

I’m sure we’ve all got a strategy.

Vanessa Reid:

Great question, yeah.

Joshna Maharaj:

Go BE.

BE Alink:

I go to very few incredible friends that I have, that I can just be, and they understand why I’m angry, what happened, how I got hurt. And they see me and that.

Joshna Maharaj:

Love? They love you up a little bit? Yes. Thank you. For this, I want to connect back to something that you just said. It bothers me that I am so good at this. It’s a real problem that I have finely developed skill to manage this. We never get to talk about that. This is just cost of doing business. I will tell you, last year in November I got my first taste of hate mail in a major way, and it knocked me down. So I had to get back up. In that process is when I realized that I had been packing this all away, and that a part of me is just receiving it. I’m not even fighting back. I’m like, fine, I’ll carry it because I’ve got work to do.

Joshna Maharaj:

So now that I’ve spent all this time doing all this yoga to work all this pain out of my hips, I’m like, there’s no more real estate here. There’s no more, exit only. This is not … being strong enough to say that’s your shit, that’s my new game and it’s terrifying and it doesn’t always work very well, but in order to respect myself, I’ve realized how much work it takes me to deal with this. I was like, no, this your nonsense. I am no longer going to walk around with a bag, holding your shit in it because you’re uncomfortable with the fact that I’m in this world. Sorry, man. That’s when it’s fresh, it’s like three months old. It’s fresh.I think it’s a worthwhile effort.

Lisa Yancey:

I would just say what BE and Joshna said, and the only thing I would add, Nadia, is acknowledge it because so very often women are told to repress, and individually minded without letting it out. Saying you’re angry, and being freaking angry in whatever way to get it out of your body, and then have your tribe … you have your tribe who are with you, and then allowing yourself the space to wherever you need to get it out, whether it’s yoga, or whether you need to call them out. I believe in restorative practice and restorative justice. Sometimes when people say things, there are so many platforms right now where you can actually call them out, to call them in.

Nadia:

Thank you.

Vanessa Reid:

Is there … yep the one here, and then we’ll go to [inaudible 00:39:30]

Speaker 8:

Hi. One quick comment, one quick question. My comment, there’s a quote that I read in a book recently called Girl Wash Your Face, the author writes, “Somebody else’s opinion of you is none of your business.” And I’ve been holding onto that since I read that book. That just resonated with me. My question is for Joshna. When we talk about food and how it gives us life, and it sustains us, I think that’s something that we do three, four, five, I don’t know how many times a day you eat, and you break bread with people around you and that you care about and love, what are some examples of concrete ways that you think that we can take action in that area? In helping people have a better relationship to food and being connected to that experience, that we can bring to [crosstalk 00:40:28]

Joshna Maharaj:

Yeah, wonderful. Lovely question, thank you. I really think that in this context of rebuilding our food system and reworking our relationship to food, there is in fact incredible opportunity for one person to do one thing at one moment. We have a lot of concern about what is the impact of me and my cotton shopping bags, really on the whole? But I think that in the context of food, we can really do this and there’s so many opportunities. Everything from decide one night a week that you’re going to cook a meal and you’re going to invite three people over, and you’re going to sit at a table and there will be no screens and you’re going to gaze into somebody eyes, or contemplate the cranberry vinaigrette, or whatever beautiful thing it is. That’s one thing.

Joshna Maharaj:

Other things are just it’s about rethinking your behavior so that food is in fact prioritized. Food waste is a thing that comes up a lot. The truth is, the giant landfill, bulldozer piles of food waste, that’s happening at industry level and it’s not stuff that you and I really have much control over. However, I found a stat that said that the average Canadian individual, not a household, wastes 140 kilograms of food a year. Which is outrageous. So, if you can, resist the urge to just order something or pick something up on the way home, and take the time to say, no man, I know what’s in … there’s something in here, I’m going to cook something, we’re going to have some sort of bottom of the fridge drawer soup and it’s going to be amazing.

Joshna Maharaj:

For the longest time I thought that the big solution would just be transparent fridge doors. Right? I was like, that’s actually the innovation that we need because we close the door and we have no idea what’s inside. Maybe the answer a clear fridge door and then we know what’s going on. But it’s little things like that. It’s grow something.

Joshna Maharaj:

I know Michael Pollan, who’s super smart and wonderful, talks about growing. He says that just naturally the abundance of the harvest will make you need to share it with somebody else. I love that. It’s just the natural order of things forces community, connection, sharing. Just think about what you can do to spend more time paying attention to your food.

Vanessa Reid:

We have one question, one last question up here.

Speaker 9:

Thank you. Sorry, I’m going to face this way. I don’t like to have my back to people. I’ve been working in the diversity and inclusion space for a decade. I find that those of us who are members of marginalized community, there’s an expectation that we make others who are privileged feel comfortable with having the conversation. We can have the perception of being pushy, aggressive, angry, all of this, when we’re trying very hard to move that dial and just say this is what you need to do, this is how we could support you and it all comes down to money a lot of times. So I’m basically saying with what I’m trying to do, is take from the rich, put their money to good use and let’s move the dial.

Speaker 9:

The thing is, if you don’t intentionally include, you unintentionally exclude. So it’s a really difficult thing, because what I really want to say is if you are contacting me, or anyone else, about how to build an inclusive community, I would like to say, but I don’t, just don’t be an asshole. That’s really what it comes down to.

Joshna Maharaj:

It’s the truth though, right?

Speaker 9:

It’s very true.

Joshna Maharaj:

Unfortunately.

Speaker 9:

But then we also have to, I find, speaking for myself sorry, is that you have to manage that, why are you so aggressive? What do you want from us? And then I get a lot of, “Well, we don’t have any of those people coming to our events who need captioning.” And I was like, humans?

Joshna Maharaj:

It’s layers upon layers of madness at this point.

Speaker 9:

It’s really hard because I have to walk that line of if I want change to happen, I have to do it in a way that makes the privileged feel comfortable. So you’re getting this? I’m not alone in my thinking.

Joshna Maharaj:

No, you’re not alone.

Vanessa Reid:

Did you want to respond?

BE Alink:

No, you’re not alone.

Speaker 9:

But it’s a really interesting dynamic, because even though I’ve been an advocate for so long, now that I’ve got a social enterprise that’s trying to really change the culture, and needs support, I’m being told know your place. Wait a minute, you want all of this too? Well, I want to belong and so does everyone else. We don’t want to just be included, like come on in, but once you’re in the door know your place. So that’s what I’m really trying to work on. That was my comment, and just remember, don’t be an asshole.

Vanessa Reid:

Thank you.

Joshna Maharaj:

I want to follow up because this triggered a quote that I have on the wall at my desk, which is, “One is a token, two is a minority, three is culture change.” What I love about that is that it completely rethinks how we understand tokenism. I am not bothered at all by tokenism, because if some poor fool thinks that they are just going to get a brown face out of me to sit somewhere quiet, that’s your problem buddy. You know what I mean? I will take the opportunity very delightfully. But I don’t think we need to worry so much about tokenism. If you understand that tokenism is just step one, on a place to inclusion, or a place to a shift in culture, or real change.

Vanessa Reid:

Thank you. We are at the end, perfectly, and I would just love to invite from what Joshna just said, if there’s one final note you’d like to leave on I could invite BE and Lisa, if there’s something yet to sing.

BE Alink:

It follows up what Joshna just said. I don’t always like to think about the mainstream, and all the segments, what we now have and we can’t get over ourselves to even create more segments and everything. I’d like to reframe the whole thing. There is one vast majority of diverse people, and there’s one little minority that creates a bit of a problem. Let’s just be in that vast majority of diverse people.

Joshna Maharaj:

Yeah, let them carry on.

Vanessa Reid:

Yes.

BE Alink:

Don’t give them any energy.

Lisa Yancey:

The last thing that I will offer is to know that you can make a difference. That you really can. That sometimes the tasks seem insurmountable, and it feels daunting, and like we will never … we can’t do that big thing. But know that every single big thing, is a bunch of little things, and that if we elevate our mindfulness, even around food, because I don’t know what it is in Toronto but in the States there are plenty of food deserts. There are plenty of places where you … and shift our frame of thinking that the way I live is the standard for all, and I think we can just know that every single one of us is moving and shifting the history that were born into, and that we have the ability to facilitate and change.

Vanessa Reid:

Let’s give a big hand for our panel. Thank you.

Jessy Wang:

This has been a special episode of SheEO.world, a podcast about redesigning the world, a SheEO Global Summit edition.

 

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