Folklore proclaims that a pot of gold lies at the end of the rainbow, but what about a pot of soup? With Group 14’s upcoming community project in partnership with Health Initiative For Men’s Rainbow Soup Social, our pots of gold will be accessible by men of diverse orientations and backgrounds!
If you are curious to know who is behind this initiative, click here!
What are Group 14’s interests?
With numerous overlapping interests, our group is interested in expressing our creativity through innovative recipes and advocating for community food system maintenance and sustainability. Increasing awareness for healthy lifestyles and nutritious options is second nature when it stems from the recognition that our society’s relationship with food, the community, and the environment needs to be revamped for future success.
What are Group 14’s goals?
Although each member of our group originates from a different major, we all have one goal in mind for our community project. We will work together with our organization partner to develop and attain suitable food security goals for their neighbourhood. Operating as a branch of Term 2 2016W LFS 350, we hope to be able to approach the issues related to food with full consideration of the social and cultural norms of our community partner. This can be achieved through effective collaboration as we become strong, unbiased listeners of their perspectives and priorities. Our team challenges itself to approach this project through multidisciplinary actions that recognize the strengths of each individual involved, all the while having fun and gaining invaluable experience.
What do we wish to gain from this LFS 350 experience?
Group 14 expects to be able to gain valuable community connections as we interact with another interdisciplinary group whose primary contact is a former teaching assistant of this very course. Our community relations will continue to improve as we learn about Vancouver’s West End through a different lens. However, we understand that learning is only one part of the puzzle. Suitable applications and the sharing of genuine emotion and knowledge will complete our unique semester-long experience. Identification of certain issues brought forth by the community is only one component, as implementation and sincere follow-ups are necessary to ensure sustainable changes. As we contribute community improvements in line with Health Initiative for Men, we hope to create a lasting (rather than a one-off) positive impression. Our community project should strengthen the West End’s awareness to their local food system resources and initiatives as the approaches will be reflective of their specific lifestyles.
Community Project Partner: Health Initiative for Men (HIM)
The Mission of HIM is to strengthen gay men’s health and well-being through trusted, tailored, targeted research-based health promotion services and by engaging the community through volunteer involvement, online access and events. We foster mutually beneficial relationships among gay men and health professionals to ensure the best possible outcomes. We do this because we value the ability of gay men to make informed decisions, we value the role of our community in supporting the foundations for healthy living, and we value scientific research.
HIM’s Mission Statement
What are Group 14’s reasons for choosing a partnership with HIM?
Upon reviewing this term’s potential projects, a partnership with HIM made its way onto our group’s Top-3 based off numerous exciting opportunities. The prospect of updating and creating a soup recipe book was enticing as our group has a passion for creative product development. Active participation within their Rainbow Soup Social would allow us to interact with individuals of all backgrounds, doubling as an opportunity to give us candid input on our contributions. This ties in nicely with our passion for social justice, focused on food and nutrition and its importance in diverse communities of GB&OMSM men. Subsequently, we would be witnessing firsthand the outcome of our streamlined goals, with the ability to measure our success. In addition, we strongly believe that our values and interests relating to food security, health, and overall well-being are in alignment with HIM’s.
Community Project Objectives:
Asset-Based Community Development is a suitable way to approach our project. By identifying the assets of the community, we are able to look at the concerns through a positive light. We are avoiding the common deficit-based approach as we instead recognize the unique capacities and skills of our partner community. The West End community’s assets include the Gordon Neighbourhood House and its herb garden, pre-existing recipe books and food resource guides for inspiration and an in-depth look at their preferences, on-going community partners who work with HIM, and the volunteers who bring the community together. Just by simply listing off a few of their excellent assets, we have two of the six guiding principles of ABCD. As we work with the residents of the community, we will further understand the meaning of the perspective of “citizens of the community, rather than [the] external experts, are at the centre of development”, as we will have a better idea of their needs relating to their food resources.
Collectively, every individual involved in this project is a leader in their own unique way. This is an exceptional opportunity for leadership to be displayed throughout the community, especially for those who have shied away from these chances in the past. With the increasing familiarity of our project over time, we hope to establish meaningful conversations with all of the community members through active listening and respectful dialogue as we pinpoint areas of concern that require priority from their perspective. Lastly, we must remember our purpose in their neighbourhood, where our contributions benefit the institutions who primarily exist to better serve their community and needs.
After speaking with Josh, our community partner’s primary contact, we appreciated Ernest Sirolli’s TED Talk further. Sirolli emphasized the importance of containing our proactive passion by first actively listening to a community and their representatives to offer more insightful help. We must recognize that we are outsiders looking into the West End community, and if we want to help them achieve their goals, we should not act as if we are the answers to their issues. It is our responsibility to help them find the answers within their own community, as we supplement their search from an academic perspective.
Appropriate communication and cooperation with our community partner was stressed by Sirolli given our unfamiliarity. The West End’s food challenges are foreign to each member of our group, which furthers the importance of listening to what our community partner has to say first. Social justice and the question of why we should even consider a project in this neighbourhood became our main focuses, tying back to one of the four commonalities of ABCD. By learning about and understanding their desires and goals for this collaborative project, we are able to provide assistance in a streamlined manner, catering to their needs.
Lastly, Sirolli addresses the significance of treating our community partner, their organization, and the community as a whole with nothing but the utmost respect. They have allowed inexperienced outsiders into their community and have accepted our challenge to better their community. Hopefully we can become their “family doctor of enterprise” and successfully improve food system sustainability in the West End.
What are Group 14’s first quarter impressions and thoughts?
When Group 14 found out that we were placed with HIM, we were thrilled that we would be a part of the Rainbow Soup Social and have the chance to help improve on one of the already well established social outlets for the GB&OMSM community in the West End neighbourhood of Downtown Vancouver. We were excited to get started as a partnership with HIM was one of our top 3 choices. Their mission statement and impressive agency branding offered a heightened sense of professionalism, which will be mirrored by the group’s actions and decisions.
We set up our first meeting with Josh Edwards, the Knowledge Translation Manager for HIM on Tuesday, January 19th. At first, we were uncertain about the true nature of the project, but Josh was able to inform us of the agency’s goals and how we were able to make an impact in a very friendly manner. After the tense moments passed, we asked our collection of brainstormed and newly formulated questions, where Josh was enthusiastic to answer a majority of them. Prior to the conclusion of our introductory meeting, Josh recommended that we email him the questions that he was not able to answer that afternoon. We followed up on his request on the next day, providing him with a condensed version of our meeting minutes as well as a list of questions to be answered at his convenience.
Using his previous experience as a former TA of this course, our meeting helped to clarify any misunderstandings for our group and individual goals during the semester and our expected role with the community project. From this point onward, we are all eager to get started!
Thanks for stopping by! Stay tuned for more…
Health Initiative for Men. (2016). Our Mission. Retreived from http://checkhimout.ca/about/
Sirolli, E. (2012, November 26). Want to help people? Shut up and listen! [Video file]. Retreived from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=chXsLtHqfdM