LIISBETH DISPATCH #61

A feminist response to COVID-19, a social enterprise generations in the making, celebrating Transgender Day of Visibility, daring to dream in pandemic times . . .

Photo by Thais Varela on Stocksy

WHAT WE’RE THINKING ABOUT 

Well. We just got catapulted into a new reality in record time.

Even though COVID-19 is upending our way of life and our livelihoods, now is the time to imagine a better future and create systems to get us there. We can’t forget about the issues we’ve always been fighting for such as Indigenous rights, climate change, and pay equity in the care economy—now more important than ever. Gender justice including Transgender Day of Visibility (March 31) hasn’t been cancelled because of this virus.

Everyone is adjusting to a new normal, something Gurbeen Bhasin at AANGEN has thrived at by mastering how to pivot on a dime. And yes, this pandemic is a crisis, but it’s also a massive opportunity. The cuffs that bound us to the status quo are off. We may be a little shaky on our newly unshackled feet, but rest assured this is a good time to model what commerce can look like in the future. Consider what political decision-making might look like if young women were leading the way? It also feels good to let off some steam. Fiery anger clears the way for new growth.

Online groups and communities are popping up to offer support and brainstorm a new future that might come out of these extraordinary times. We are one of them! You are invited to join us in the Feminist Enterprise Commons (FEC) to Work It Out Together (W.I.O.T. rhymes with RIOT). Scroll down to the In Case You Missed It section for details about our Friday afternoon ZOOM calls that will be held for the foreseeable future.

APRIL STORY POLL & READER SURVEY:  New realities don’t have to be scary. Read and repeat: You are not alone. Help us help you and others. What kinds of stories do you want to see now? Now more than ever, our hard-working team would love to hear from you! Please consider helping us improve by completing the five-minute LiisBeth reader survey. Results will be shared. Here is the link!

NEW FEATURES ON LIISBETH 

Gurbeen Bhasin and two colleagues whose names are being withheld by request.
Photo by Zlatko Cetinic

WHEN GREAT GRANNY INSPIRES GREAT WORK

A unique social enterprise that has been generations in the making tells us how to scale and build a resilient enterprise in tough times.

Arezoo Najibzadeh, Co-founder, Young Women’s Leadership Network.
Photo by Natalie Dolan

TIME TO POWER UP YOUNG WOMEN IN POLITICS 

There are endless reasons why young women aren’t getting into politics. But for those who are…why aren’t they staying in politics?
Meet the network that exists to support, assist, and encourage young and diverse women and non-binary folk to take the reins of leadership. We need them now more than ever!

Kalen Taylor, Founder, Purpose Construction, Winnipeg, Manitoba

TRANSFORMING CONSTRUCTION–TRANSFORMING LIVES

Transgender Day of Visibility (TDOV) is a day to show your support for the trans community! Coming up on March 31, this day aims to bring attention to the accomplishments of trans people everywhere while fighting cissexism and transphobia by spreading understanding of trans people. We also want to highlight just one example of the incredible work happening to create opportunity for marginalized genders.

Meet Kalen Taylor. They founded a dual-purpose construction company that builds and rebuilds lives. This is what the future of enterprise could look like.

This article is by LiisBeth Advisory Board member Jack Jackson. It’s their first piece–ever! Send them your thoughts and feedback in the comments section!

Photo supplied by Sabrina Dias: Photo taken in front of  Dias’s house In Ngara Tanzania, with colleague Boniface Shuuli

DARE TO DREAM IN PANDEMIC TIMES

For a punchy, honest, rant we think you’ll want to share, check out LiisBeth contributor Sabrina Dias’s heartfelt take on what this pandemic means to her. Will we build an army of Hope and Decency? Share your thoughts and ideas in the comments section!

Lauren McKeon / Photo credit: Yuli Scheidt

THE NEW MEASURE OF WOMXN: WIELDING POWER 

In her new book No More Nice Girls, Lauren McKeon explores ways feminist power might change the world. We can’t think of a better time to read this book! Check out Farzana Doctor’s review of No More Nice Girls here.

INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY 2020:  WHERE WERE YOU?

I[VIDEO] Featuring the Feminist Art Festival, Toronto Women’s Day March and Wet’suwet’en Solidarity fundraiser plus more.

It’s hard to imagine now that International Women’s Day 2020 celebrations and the Toronto march happened just 13 days ago! Watch this video for our highlight reel--people gathering, videos, photos and music about where we went and who we met along the way!

PK’S VIEWPOINT 

Illustration by Cactus Creative Studio on Stocksy

A FEMINIST’S RESPONSE TO COVID-19

It this the time to prop up the status quo? Or the start of something new? What we do know is that this is a pivotal moment in our history. How will you respond?

Liisbeth Media is a small enterprise based in Tkaronto (TORONTO) Ontario.  The COVID-19 virus has kicked our 2020 financial sustainabilty and editorial plans right out from under us. So where to from here?

We’re getting creative. Digging deep. And talking to our community about how to continue to source and publish stories while still supporting our freelance editors, writers, and creators with fair wages. We need our storytellers, our womxn-led media voice, and an independent source of views and perspectives about our emerging world. We need to ensure that quality, fact-checked and informative content remains available to all (not just those who can afford to get past a paywall) perhaps more now than ever.

There are two things you can do to keep the stories coming. First, if it is within your means please consider becoming a donor subscriber. As little as $3/month helps a lot. Second, please join us in the Feminist Enterprise Commons–a non-Zuckerberg financed and non-surveilled online community for feminist changemakers. We are offering three months complimentary access!

In addition to learning with and from an incredible community of feminist activists, thought leaders, enterprise builders and creatives, you will also have the opportunity to host seminars, and participate in our W.I.O.T. In the Commons” open ZOOM session held Fridays from 1:00 – 2:30 PM EDT each week. (Oh, and W.I.O.T. rhymes with RIOT and stands for “work it out together”.)

DOWNLOADABLE PDF

The Imperial College Report came to LiisBeth via Nataly DeMonte and Ana Serrano of Ideaboost. It does a great job of explaining not only of what we have to do today to flatten the curve but also what we can expect in the next 18 months. The report explains the impact of non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) to reduce COVID19 mortality and healthcare demand.

Thoughts and comments welcome. Tell us what you’re thinking and how you’re coping!

LIISBETH FIELD NOTES

[CLICK TO PLAY VIDEO]
Everyone’s social-distancing in their homes this week because of the #Coronavirus. But, what will we learn from it?

FOUR THINGS WE’LL LEARN FROM SOCIAL DISTANCING

Patriarchy Is A Drag does it again! We love the new weekly video series that centers around women and women’s issues.

It was started in 2020 by Merle Becker, former MTV Producer/Director (Beavis & Butt-Head, Daria, Total Request Live). This week Merle created a 4-minute video about 4 things we’ll learn from being quarantined.

The PIAD Facebook page (and other socials) feature daily quotes from inspirational women, as well as links to other articles that relate to (smashing the) Patriarchy. Worth checking out! As Gloria Steinem stated, “Women of colour were always more likely to recognize discrimination, so they were always leading the women’s movement.” In this vein, PIAD remains committed to intersectionality by including/amplifying the voices of the marginalized, transgender women, and women of colour.

You can access the series so far here.

Catherine Chan  | Photo credit: Fitin.io

A NEW BUSINESS FOR THESE SHUT-IN TIMES

Catherine Chan had just launched FitIn.io, a new fitness and wellness app to help Canadians find fitness classes, trainers and mental-health solutions faster and easier. Then the COVID-19 pandemic slammed the doors on gyms, fitness centres and, well, just about everything. In what may be one of the fastest pivots ever for a small business, Chan adapted her site to help with our new shut-in reality.

FitIn Live Kids, for $10 a day, offers a day-long live stream of edu-tainment programming to occupy the kids so that parents working from home can actually work.

For the same price, FitIn Live will offer a day-long live stream of fitness classes to help both parents and kids blow off steam with home workouts (coming March 30). If you would rather have personalized home-training sessions, you can also source a variety of fitness professions through the site.

FitIn Live Mental Health, still being developed, will also offer a plethora of live-stream options from guided meditation to art therapy, with opportunity to connect with a variety of mental-health specialists.

Chan says she worked about 36 hours straight to adapt her site for a new launch. During the first week of programming, she will rely on folks volunteering hours (in exchange for listing and promotion) to fill out her programming but, by April 1 (no kidding), plans on being able to pay moderators and instructors a good hourly rate. “I hope to give people working in the gig economy a foundation to build a bit of income and build community.”

She also wants to localize each of her streams as much as possible to sustain local neighbourhoods, starting with her own Toronto midtown hood. She’s hoping local shop owners with down time can moderate some of the Kids Live streaming – think: a local art studio teaching art to kids – helping out parents while making a little income and keeping families and local shop keepers connected. “When we come out of this, we want our local shops and services to survive.”

Left to right Suzanne Siemens and Madeleine Shaw
Photo by Mavreen David

TAKING BACK THE PERIOD AISLE

LiisBeth caught up with Lunapads Co-founder, Suzanne Siemens who answered a few questions about their recent rebrand to Aisle that has coincided with a global pandemic.

[NOTE: At the time of this publication, Aisle is in discussions with provincial and local manufacturing associations and government representatives to see how they can assist with making personal protective equipment (PPE) such as cloth masks and gowns. They hope to hear back soon in order to activate their manufacturing relationships to provide support as needed.]

Q: What was the catalyst for change?
A: Aisle represents a fresh perspective on all the learnings we have had over the past decades. Lunapads had always made products that were sustainable and comfortable, but we were excited by new developments in textile technologies that would allow us to not only create products that were sustainable and looked great, but outperformed disposables.

Q: How do you incorporate feminist business practices in your enterprise?
A: We have democratic work practices and offer right livelihoods that challenge the conventions of power and promote employee agency: examples: a gender non-conforming employee led the development of gender inclusive products for customers. A production manager was empowered to lead us to zero waste manufacturing in Vancouver.

We provide suppliers with mutual support: we go out to suppliers and ask them to step up with us to provide a higher level of environmental standard to ensure a long-term mutual relationship (vs asking them to cut down to their lowest possible price that could jeopardize their sustainability)

We serve as possibility models to others: we’ve offered leadership to community for decades, sharing our values and best practices. We have coached and mentored the birth of an ecosystem of businesses in our specific industry, and in the world of social entrepreneurship to serve as an example of how business can be a force for social and environmental change.

Q: How did you come up with the name?
A: We called it Aisle because we’re taking back the period aisle; transforming it from a place of shame and waste to a space of empowerment and sustainability. It’s where you can find products that look good and work great; where everyone is welcome, regardless of body, gender or flow.

FINAL THOUGHTS from Suzanne Siemens…
As a feminist business, we are made up of incredibly committed leaders and team members who care deeply for each other and are willing to make sacrifices to ensure no one gets left behind in this current global crisis that no one could fully prepare for. I am hopeful that we all rise from the hardship more resilient and committed than ever to push for systemic change in our world to heal and create regenerative future for us all.

A SPECIAL 4-HOUR PLAYLIST FOR FEMINIST CHANGEMAKERS

Lido Pimienta, Performing at Venusfest, 2017, Toronto, Ontario
Going for a long walk? Want to drone out the fam? Tired of your playlist? Check out our LiisBeth Playlist featuring 82 songs by amazing feminist womxn-led bands or singer songwriters! Available now on Spotify!

WHAT WE’RE READING 

This remarkable book is about everything from echidnas to evolution, cosmology to cooking, sex and science and spirits to Schrödinger’s cat.

Tyson Yunkaporta looks at global systems from an Indigenous perspective. He asks how contemporary life diverges from the pattern of creation. How does this affect us? How can we do things differently?

Sand Talk provides a template for living. It’s about how lines and symbols and shapes can help us make sense of the world. It’s about how we learn and how we remember. It’s about talking to everybody and listening carefully. It’s about finding different ways to look at things.

Most of all it’s about Indigenous thinking, and how it can save the world.

Read a Q&A with Yunkaporta on Booktopia.

‘An exhilarating meditation on different ways of knowing and being. Sand Talk is playful, profound and fiercely original.’ 
Billy Griffiths

‘Radical ideas, bursting with reason.’ 
Tara June Winch

(Source: Goodreads.com)

A new feudalism is on the rise. From the internet to service and care, more and more industries expect people to live gig to gig, while monopolistic corporations feed their spoils to the rich. But as Nathan Schneider shows through years of in-depth reporting, there is an alternative to the robber-baron economy hiding in plain sight; we just need to know where to look.

Cooperatives are jointly owned, democratically controlled enterprises that advance the economic, social, and cultural interests of their members. They often emerge during moments of crisis not unlike our own, putting people in charge of the workplaces, credit unions, grocery stores, healthcare, and utilities they depend on. Co-ops have helped to set the rules, and raise the bar, for the wider society.

Since the financial crash of 2008, the cooperative movement has been coming back with renewed vigor. Everything for Everyone chronicles this economic and social revolution—from taxi cooperatives that are keeping Uber and Lyft at bay, to an outspoken mayor transforming his city in the Deep South, to a fugitive building a fairer version of Bitcoin, to the rural electric co-op members who are propelling an aging system into the future. As these pioneers show, cooperative enterprise is poised to help us reclaim faith in our capacity for creative, powerful democracy.

Source: Nathanschneider.com)

AND FINALLY . . . IN CASE YOU MISSED IT!

  • Feminist organizations who fund themselves? Have you heard about the power of autonomous resourcing? Check this out. A cooperative bank of over 20,000 sex workers in Kolkata, India has provided over USD 4.7M in loans to 7,231 sex workers in a span of one year, while a women’s grantmaking organization in Kathmandu, Nepal has mobilized over 600 volunteer ambassadors. These are only two of many examples where feminist groups around the world are sustaining their organizing through membership dues and crowdfunding. Read more here.
  • With the help of their partners and friends, Data2X has compiled a running list of resources and current reporting on gender and gender data as they relate to COVID-19 preparedness and response around the world, including the current and anticipated impacts of the pandemic. This list is not exhaustive and intended for all to use. See something missing? Please email info@data2x.org to share additional analysis, resources, policy responses or suggestions. (Thank you Dr. Barb Orser for sharing this with us!)
  • Suzanne Stein, Foresight Analyst, Mentor, and Educator at the Ontario College of Art and Design and founder of the Superordinary Lab has created a google doc to collect ideas about how the world will change with COVID-19. To review or contribute, click here. It’s amazing!
  • Casualty of the times. March 25th announcement from #movethedial–Founder Jodi Kovitz writes: “So, it is with the utmost sadness and immense heartbreak that I have made the incredibly difficult decision to pause our operations.” Founder hearts are with you. We need organizations that work to advance womxn now more than ever.
  • If you are an advocate for a new kind of economy, here are two great resources. If you are in the United States, check out the New Economy Coalition and their People’s Economy Toolkit. Interested in building cooperatives and promoting alternative models of local development? Check out this free toolbox highlight what worked/didn’t work in a variety of projects around the globe from the Canadian Cooperative and Policy Alternative Centre (COPAC)
  • How do you respond to COVID-19 Indigenously? This article from NDN, an Indigenous collective based in North Dakota, on “Decolonizing Community Care in Response to COVID-19” represents a great start.
  • With meetings and even wine dates with friends all going online these days, are you up on what technologies are now available to enhance the experience? This handy list is worth reviewing.  We found a lot of apps and options we didn’t know about.  Those we work with have rated ZOOM as the leading platform for now.
  • If you are interested in learning about four COVID-19 based future scenarios that may unfold in the next year, we found this document by futurist Paul Higgins super helpful.

That’s a wrap for Dispatch #61! 

It’s been an incredible few weeks.

Yet here we are! We plan to continue to profile the work of feminist changemakers and the impact of the feminist economy in the months to come. The impact of the pandemic and resulting measures impact womxn and womxn led enterprises disproportionately—everywhere. We need to continue to speak truth to power to ensure policy and measures are formulated with gender equality and equity in mind.

Our ask? Read. Comment. Engage. And if possible, consider becoming a donor subscriber. A little bit with us goes a looooonnnng way!

With gratitude and heartfelt thanks for your continued readership, engagement and support.

Peace out. It’s Spring! xoxo

Leave a reply

Send this to a friend