Takeaways from Making the Pivot Part 1: Taking action to secure the right to adequate housing in Edmonton

Takeaways from Making the Pivot Part 1: Taking action to secure the right to adequate housing in Edmonton

This first virtual workshop was intended to develop some shared understanding of key concepts (equity, inclusion, and justice), establish guidelines for brave spaces in the conversations going forward, and reflect on our own social positions and relative access and power.

Key Concepts

Equality vs. Equity

Image Source:https://www.rwjf.org/en/library/infographics/visualizing-health-equity.html

Equity ensures that everyone has what they need and to do so starts with identifying the barriers and root causes of why people are starting at different points. Equity seeks to intentionally eliminate barriers to achieving equal outcomes. This is different to equality where everyone has the same amount of something despite differences in their existing needs and assets.


Image Source: https://www.dawsoncollege.qc.ca/academic-matters/articles/delve-into-the-realm-of-inclusion-a-udl-journey/

Inclusion is a state of belonging, when persons of different backgrounds and identities are valued, integrated, and welcomed equitably as decision-makers and collaborators.


Image Source: https://www.paperpinecone.com/blog/teaching-difference-between-equality-equity-and-justice-preschool

We define justice as a process, not an outcome, which (1) seeks fair (re)distribution of resources, opportunities, and responsibilities; (2) challenges the roots of oppression and injustice; (3) empowers all people to exercise self-determination and realize their full potential; (4) and builds social solidarity and community capacity for collaborative action. Justice is when we seek transformational change, fundamental to which is removing factors which create inequities in the first place.

In small groups discussion we brainstormed how equity, inclusion and justice relate to/advance one of the 7 criteria of adequate housing. In this exercise participants reflected on how implementing the above principles can be integrated with a right based approach to housing.

Brave Spaces

The concept of brave spaces grew out of safe spaces, both set ground rules/guidelines for conversations and behaviour. Brave spaces are in response to safety not being guaranteed and looking different for everyone. Brave space acknowledges the bravery required to engage difficult conversations without promising the illusion of collective safety which can often support the status quo through notions of a right to comfort for the people with the most power through avoiding uncomfortable situations. Brave spaces acknowledge participation in these conversations requires different levels of risk and courage because of the inequitable forms of power at play. Brave space requires us to collectively agree to hold this space to uproot the systems of oppression that continue to be barriers to accessing the human right to adequate housing.

In a menti activity participants reflected on what a brave space would look/feel like to them. Some of the themes that emerged were non-judgement, being curious, listening more than speaking, speaking the truth, understanding and acknowledging biases and power dynamics and sharing lived experiences.

Social Positions and Access to Power

There are many possible approaches to analyzing and discussing the different dimensions of power. In this workshop we examined four dimensions of power:

  1. Personal power – Often derived from charisma, self confidence, self respect, networks of support, and individual characteristics that we and others value.
  2. Collective power – Solidarity, community, empowers others, supportive, builds creative action. Can be leveraged to dismantle systems of inequity and oppression.
  3. Institutional power- The ability or official authority to decide what is best for others. The ability to decide who will have access to resources. The capacity to exercise control over others. This can also include position within organizations, seniority, influence over policies and processes, professional networks, access/proximity to most powerful (often it’s top-down power, power over)
  4. Social power – Derived from aspects of our social identity such as gender, race, class, citizenship, etc. These aspects of our social identity can yield more or less power depending on the context we are in. 

Analyzing these four forms of power helps us to make sense of the challenges we face as well as the ways power can be leveraged to address those challenges. Individually participants reflected on the intersectionality of these 4 elements of power in their lives and their relative access to power as a result.