On Monday, March 30, 2020, I partnered with Victoria Immigrant and Refugee Centre Society (VIRCS) as well as Here Magazine to deliver a webinar on listening skills that can be used to better support our loved ones during this challenging time. The webinar features three panellists, Parker Johnson, Noah Stewart, and Lisa Gordon, who all have extensive experience and knowledge in listening. In this blog post, you will get access to a brief description of each of the panellists, the video recording of the Livestream, and resources created by the panellists. Enjoy!
Panellist short description
Parker is an African American adoptee, from Savannah Georgia living on WSANEC & Songhees territories. Parker is the founder and host of the Table, a platform for Black, Indigenous and People of Colour to share their experiences living in this region. Using an Indigenous conversational mechanism and being an adopted settler, identifying with the African diaspora, Parker is trying to decolonize conversation within his community. The goal is to remind people that they have a voice. He believes that the act of being relational, and trauma-informed with our language, will help us reconnect with each other. His hope is that this will, in turn, brings us to a deeper relationship with the lands we reside on. The simple act of breaking bread and sharing stories is what has historically brought us together, and so this is his motivation to continue creating spaces and facilitating conversations for healing and connection.
Noah Stewart is a youth mental health and wellness advocate living in Lekwungen and WSÁNEĆ territories. Along with formal training in mental health first aid and crisis response, he carries experience living with a mental illness as well as coping with isolation. As a facilitator, he works to promote healthy masculinities rooted in feminist and decolonial aspirations.
Lisa Gordon is an accredited facilitator with the Center for Courage & Renewal. Her own experience of feeling hopeless and burned out from decades in the environmental movement led her to find new ways of listening to each other. Based on that experience, she loves to work with people who are losing heart for the important and difficult work they do.
Recording of the Webinar
1. These “notes” from Lisa’s presentation includes basic principles for listening, a list of “dos” and “don’ts” and some excellent open-ended questions that can assist you in getting the conversation going. Listening using open & honest questions – Lisa Gordon
2. This list created by Noah of professional contacts can help if you need crisis prevention services VIRCS Webinar Resource List. The list also includes community groups and online tools to stay connected during Covid-19 as well as links to other resources to deepen your learning on listening skills.
I want to give a sincere thank you to my dear friend Ariel Reyes-Antuan who is currently the event coordinator at VIRCS. We worked together to bring this webinar into virtual existence. If it wasn’t for his vivacious spirit, imagination, drive and connections with VIRCS and Here Magazine then this webinar may not have reached the audience that has today. Many thanks to my dear friend, Ariel!
I also want to thank our panellists Parker, Lisa, and Noah for each bringing their own special flavour to the webinar. Parker is so committed to meeting people where they are at and demonstrating excellent listening skills through the facilitation of the webinar. Lisa was well prepared and had great resources and language to help us make sure that we weren’t being exclusive in our delivery of the program. And of course, Noah Stewart, whose calm and collective nature kept us firmly grounded. Noah’s professional experience as a crisis prevention worker was certainly an invaluable piece of the conversation and a reminder that proactively holding space for others is one of the best preventative measures.
Finally, I want to give a shout out to the creators of the tools that made this webinar possible. We live-streamed from Zoom to Facebook and then made our video available using Dropbox and Youtube. We co-created the content and coordinated with one another using Google Drive (documents and email). I’m grateful for all the people who are without a doubt working extremely hard during this time to ensure that society can continue to meet and thrive in this virtual reality. We wouldn’t be able to work through these challenging times without your services!
Of course, my sincerest gratitude to all those who watched and listened and learned new skills or reminded themselves of the importance of listening to one another. As things change rapidly it is hard to know what we, the people around us, or our community needs. Listening is one of many skills that will help us adapt and remain resilient so we can create a better world through facing our challenges head-on.
With compassion and gratitude,