“Of our experience, we already know everything we know. It’s listening to what someone else knows that’s important.”
–Overheard in Edmonton
It was a phrase that caught me off guard, hanging in the air long after I’d mentally said goodbye to my fellow LRT-goer, who I would never meet. Simple, unassuming, and effective: The more you listen, the more you learn.
Inspired, I began looking for more people to listen to, reaching out into Edmonton’s community to see what I would find. And wouldn’t you know it: The Local Good and Green Drinks Edmonton were there, waiting under the wooden rafters of Yellowhead Brewery for me to come and…well…listen.
For those of you who haven’t been to one, Green Drinks is a happening social mixer featuring a cast of spirited Edmontonians working to make our city a better place. With variety and personality abound, Green Drinks offers anyone looking to make new connections the opportunity to relax into Edmonton’s fun, vibrant social community.
It was there that I recently had the pleasure of meeting the enigmatic Tracy Bear, a whirlwind force who does her last name justice: not only does she ferociously champion allyship and Indigenous rights here in Edmonton, but she also takes personal care of our city’s most vulnerable populations as a volunteer at the Edmonton Institution for Women (EIFW).
“Part of the allyship reciprocity process means both parties are implicated. I am cognizant that sometimes the ally doesn’t know what to give back to create a truly reciprocal relationship.”
Another impactful lesson, gratefully learned. I began to ask myself, how can someone like me—how can an already successful event like Green Drinks—become a better conduit for allyship in Edmonton? I had already begun to volunteer for The Local Good, but was there more we could do as a collective?
“Allyship includes more than an evening of chatting. Having a continued action plan for events that allies can support would be a great start.” In other words, listening is the first step, creating conversation the next; but it isn’t until something is given (completing the cycle) that true allyship begins.
Thus guided by Tracy’s experience and wisdom—and by her suggestions for engaging in reciprocity actions—The Local Good is taking another step in bettering our capacity to foster allyship in Edmonton. We’ve created the conversation, and now we want to back it up by helping attendees do more than just come by and listen.
That’s why, during our Green Drinks events, there will now be an opportunity for you to donate to a local organization making Edmonton a better place! Your next opportunity is December 5th during our YEG Makers event: bring some art supplies, and we’ll make sure the women at the EIFW–who are looking for paint brushes, art journals, watercolour pencils, pencil crayons, pastels, or glue sticks (no sharps or felt-tip markers please)–find room for creativity on their road to recovery.
Massive change might not come all at once, but we can always listen, connect, and give, becoming a part of the bigger picture.
Looking to become a better ally in Edmonton? Tracy has a few tips for taking a step in the right direction:
- Take the free MOOC with Indigenous Canada
- Read White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism
- Know when to stand up, and when to stand down.
- Read this Indigenous Action web article on allies vs. accomplices.
- Play Cards For Decolonization.