From arriving at the front door, we gathered as a community. Vita has a staff retreat once a year, the goal is to get people together, reflect on what we've accomplished and to set goals for the future of the agency. It's way, way, more fun that that sounds. Over the course of the day, I got a chance to talk with several people, those whom I don't manage to run into often. I spoke with one woman about her goals for her future, discussed how she might further those goals with the agency. I chatted with another woman about the importance of making all welcome, all staff, all members. She was quick and funny and warm, all the things you want and need in a care provider.
I had a serious conversation about the importance of an agency living up to the mission of 'safety, respect and community' for all within the organization. The need for tackling larger social issues within a smaller community - racism, sexism, ageism, homophobia, disphobia, ageism - all them came into the conversation. Two young women, one older woman, two gay men, two people of colour, one person with a disability, three people of separate faiths, all of 5 of us, some sharing multiple identities, talked passionately about continuing to create welcome and acceptance and encouragement of all. We talked about how difference, understood, provides everything we need to know about inclusion.
Later I demonstrated my 'pull my finger' pen to a bunch of folks at my table and we all laughed, none of us being above 'fart' humour. Even later, several of us had a passionate, and loud, discussion about what it means to stand with people with disabilities against those, all those, who would treat them as eternal children.
Earlier, I had eyed the celebration 25th anniversary cake, one of the things we were celebrating, and figured out a way to get two pieces. It was a plan of such depth and deviousness that it was bound to work. It did.
Sometimes I think we all spend so much time meeting that we never meet.
Sometimes I think we all spend so much time talking that we never talk.
Sometimes I think we all need to just have time for a chat, the opportunity to spend time discussing the future and the past and NOT the present.
Sometimes I think we all need to just be with each other.
And that's what we did.
And as a result, I'm certain, we will all be changed.