Meet this month's ICL Facilitator, Helen Hargreaves!
Helen is one of our long-standing ICL facilitators. She leaped into our family after attending a Building Skills for Change workshop back in 2016. Not only does Helen facilitate training, she is also a dedicated member of our Board.
Most impressively? She does ALL OF THIS while sharing her home with a group of rambunctious reptilian roommates. But we’ll come back to that in a minute.
In her professional life, Helen works as a child and family therapist. She is passionate about supporting neurodivergent Trans and gender creative children and believes that equity and accessibility in mental healthcare is paramount to a system with fewer barriers. Helen is also passionate about politics and worked as the campaign manager for Amara Possian. She has helped support progressive community members getting elected into Pride Toronto. Helen is actively engaged in educating children about queer rights and fighting for the rights of queer families.
It is a testament to Helen’s resiliency, passion, and positive attitude that she sees the challenges presented to organizing during the midst of a pandemic as an opportunity to reach out in new ways and learn how to make our digital organizing tools more accessible. She believes that it is critical to better understand the barriers that exist for neurodivergent folks while using these new formats, such as Zoom, to make our spaces more accessible.
But COVID-19 has been a challenge for her as well. Even when unwinding she is always in the role of advocate. Before the pandemic caused many communities to stop or limit activities, Helen, her wife, and their child used to organize regular ‘community campfires.’ Coming together, they would cook food, sing songs, and be in solidarity for the many social justice fights taking place all around the world.
So, about those reptilian roommates...
When COVID-19 happened, Helen generously opened up her home to a group of activists who desperately needed a space to conduct their meetings. At first they were pretty quiet. They agreed to gather only at night when everyone else had gone to bed. They even kept their noise to a minimum.
But these strange roommates weren’t always the most organized or tidy. Sometimes working together, but always standing apart.
It wasn’t long before things devolved. It turns out these were real Messasaurus-Rexes! They would stay up all night watching movies, chomping down ALL the popcorn, having toilet paper fights, and leaving the whole house catastrophic...
With a little help of course...
But these Dino’s needed a home. Somewhere they were safe, supported, and included. They had been told by every landlord that dinosaurs and humans, two species separated by 65 million years of evolution, suddenly thrown back into the mix, would not be compatible housemates. Helen disagreed. Using her diverse ICL facilitator skills, she went about doing what she knows how to do best, building community and organizing change leaders.
Gone were the messy popcorn nights. Gone were the living rooms covered in tp. In their place Helen organized collaborative game nights.
But she didn’t stop there. With her facilitation skills in full throttle she turned these disorganized dinos around!
They protested against climate change.
They decried nepotism, alarmists, nationalism, political corruption, and the degradation of human rights!
And they organized their very own drag storytime.
But Helen knows how important self-care is for good organizing and makes sure there is always time for movie nights and community campfires.
Thank you to Helen for sharing your story (and your dino friends)!