Single & Multi-Identity Meet-ups

We offer lunch time meeting space at NACCB for individuals or groups that wish to host ‘Single & Multi-Identity Meet-ups’.  Meet-ups need not have structure or specific content, rather they can exist in order to provide meeting space for individuals that identify with one or more traditionally underrepresented or marginalized identities (be that based on gender, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, indigeneity, class, ability, or other identities that experience systemic barriers) to meet and discuss issues and opportunities that impact them.  Individuals can simply gather for lunch, or host an organized discussion on topics relevant and interesting to the group. Grab & go lunch options will be available on site & can be pre-purchased via registration prior to the conference.

Are you interested in reserving space for a single or multi-identity meet up?

Organizers interested in hosting group meetings must put in a request via the NACCB group meetings request form. By April 25, 2018. NACCB organizers will contact you to host and advertise a sign-up form for your group’s meet-up if desired.

Please also read the Priorities for Group Lunch Meetings at NACCB info sheet for full details.

Contact with any questions.

Lunch meeting options at the Westin Harbour Castle Convention Center in Toronto  include:

  • Monday July 23, 12pm – 1:15pm
  • Tuesday July 24, 12pm – 1:15pm
  • Wednesday July 25, 12pm – 1:15pm

Why support single & multi- identity spaces?

The Avarna Group offers reasoning & justification for the importance of these efforts in a breadth of  gatherings, organizations, and programming:

  • Cultural relevance: Typical outdoor programming may not be culturally relevant to all the communities you’re trying to reach, be it due to the program structure (length, location, etc.) or because of the program outcomes (e.g., resilience, leadership, etc.). Single identity programming with different structures or outcomes (informed by the communities) can support cultural relevance.
  • Safety: People with marginalized identities need spaces where they don’t have to code-switch, be forced to assimilate, be tokenized, and be subjected to constant microaggressions. This “identity stress” causes real emotional harm.
  • Healing: People of marginalized identities need to be able to build alliances, support groups, and networks with each other to talk about the challenges they face and heal from experiences of oppression and community trauma. For example, Outdoor Afro began leading “healing hikes” for members of the black community in light of police killings in the last two years.
  • Innovation: Though diversity may support some innovation, it does not support people with marginalized identities being able to innovate solutions to the barriers they face in the outdoors and conservation. Single identity spaces are a venue for people of particular marginalized identities to share stories, discuss common challenges, and innovate solutions to these challenges.
  • Role models and mentors: People with marginalized identities often cite the lack of role models as a barrier to their continuing to be involved in outdoor education and conservation. Research shows that having teachers, mentors, and role models of like identity actually improves experiences and outcomes. Single identity experiences can connect the emerging leaders of today with these mentors and role models.
  • To explore diversity beyond a singular identity: There is a tendency to assume that people with a particular identity are part of a homogenous group (e.g. all Latinx people believe…”) Single identity programming allows people with these identities to explore the diversity within a group. Sometimes this is not possible in typical programs because people are distilled to a single visible identity and aren’t comfortable showing up as their complex selves.
  • Valuing of diverse cultures: Sometimes single identity programming is seen as a “gateway” for people who wouldn’t normally participate in your program to get a taste of your organization’s work, “drink the Kool-Aid,” and then join your organization’s typical programming that isn’t based on a single identity. But equity means valuing different cultures and not expect people to assimilate to your dominant culture. This can show up in having continuous single identity offerings for people of different identities.

Single identity spaces are also important for reasons beyond equity:

  • Retention: Research shows that in the business world, “Employee Affinity Groups” (also called “Employee Resource Groups”) are important to retaining people of certain identities in the field. Conservation in particular struggles to retain people of color. Anecdotally, many people are tired of having to “fight for inclusion from the belly of the beast” and would rather leave the sector to do their own thing. Single identity experiences can help people feel like this space is one they are willing to occupy for just that much longer.
  • Organizational learning: Organizations can also learn from single identity programs. Working with different communities helps organizations become more culturally competent and integrate inclusive practices into all of their programming.