Kelsey Says Goodbye - For Now! July 12, 2016 12:13
For the past year and a bit, I've been working most hours of the week with the incredible staff at Homestead Junction figuring out ways to better engage with the many communities we intersect with. The position of Community Engagement Coordinator at Homestead Junction has taught me a lot about ways a small business can impact people personally, and I can't tell you how many ways that has inspired me.
For myself, as a transgendered person, I never imagined to find acceptance so easily among staff and an employer at a workplace. I am incredibly lucky and privileged to have not only been hired in the first place, but to be respected in my identity - one that is too commonly rejected by greater society. Not only that, but I was granted tons of freedom to input systems to better welcome others into our space whose identities in society often leave them marginalized and invisibilized by default. My position as Community Engagement Coordinator was one based on trust and relationships, and an understanding that everyone is different - so how can we better accommodate each other in our differences? As anyone who gardens using permaculture principles knows, or anyone who has been witnessing the effects of climate change specifically in places where there is a lack of biodiversity (for example, the devastating pine beetle), we must intentionally do the work and take the time to input new systems to grow diverse ecosystems. The default may otherwise look like a whole lot of morning glory strangling your backyard - or a huge dependence on scarce resources like fresh water just to keep our own gardens alive. We need diversity to grow together and support one another.
I am very sad to leave a workplace that makes so much room for this kind of work to be done, though I am incredibly grateful for the kindness that has encouraged me to keep learning and practicing my job all the way through. Over the course of my time here, I've worked with an incredible diversity of humans connected to the store, and learned so much from each of them. With our community, Homestead Junction has built an incredible roster of instructors teaching all sorts of skills that would otherwise be next to impossible to learn in the city. From fermentation to making herbal medicine, to learning how to tan deer hide, this store is an incredible resource for city dwellers. It's probably not realistic that we will all tan hides to make our next pairs of boots, but it's very probable that learning the many steps to making leather will impact how we think when we purchase our next pair of boots.
Within our local communities, we have been building solid relationships with our neighbours and neighbouring organizations like the Downtown Eastside Neighbourhood House, and Briarpatch Community Garden. As a small business, we too have limited resources, but we do have an abundance of social capital and knowledge. Being able to share that with folks that reside in our DTES neighbourhood has been incredibly inspiring, and a huge reminder of all the work so many people are doing every day to make finding support accessible in the DTES.
So with that, I am incredibly pleased and grateful for my time spent at Homestead Junction. I learned way more than I could have imagined. HJX's owner Rick Havlak has taught me continuously about leadership through generosity and trust. Those are definitely two of his most consistent traits and I can't even tell y'all how many times I was surprised and caught off guard in the best ways by this. It makes him real good employer. And these are values I will hold on to and remember for a very long time as I head into new projects of my own.
Kelsey Cham Corbett