HOW DOES A FOCUS ON SOCIAL JUSTICE MAKE A DIFFERENCE
Tanya Lewis PhD & Barbara Williams EdD
Insight for Community Impact (ICI) in Toronto, Ontario is an initiative to explore how Tavistock group relations methodologies might contribute to the development of knowledge and skills in individuals working in non-profit or public sector organizations with commitments to social justice.
Over the past five years, ICI has grown to a network of approximately sixty people, linked to the Toronto Psychoanalytic Society with a core group of 10 practitioners intent on learning the theory and on developing and applying their skills. The work in Toronto has been well supported by Jim Krantz, Danny Kennedy, Fabio D’Apice and John Wilkes. In the practitioner learning programs, unlike many group relation learnings in the Tavistock paradigm, where people tend not to have such on-going relationships, in Toronto, many members have professional and personal working relationships with one another.
Learning together given this complexity has been fascinating. ICI events have included: a five day conference several years ago, small study group training, development for staff roles, and now an annual two and a half day event focussed on exploring differences. Participants in small group training take part in the two and a half day workshop according to their developing skills and abilities. Much of this work depends on sustaining relationships in order to build community and withstanding some of the hatreds that arise in the work and toward it of learning together.
The ICI work has led to adaptations of the Tavistock conference model as well as the training of staff to consult to these events. Some of these adaptations include: the development of affiliations based on commitments to social justice and a curious regard for difference; story telling as part of the two and a half day event; identifying and working on a dilemma focussed on questions of difference; the impact of participants and conference staff in overlapping relationships with one another.
This presentation will invite discussion on the process of founding a Tavistock group relations informed educational initiative focussed on the promotion of social justice with its overlapping relationships between participants and its adaptations to the model. Given AKRI’s 50 year history and its own innovation, input will be encouraged on what is rich in the adaptations and what requires more careful attention.