Last year I decided to scale back, focusing just on SheSaysMCR and growing the community there and putting together some kick ass lineups and events.
However, as I started to delve deeper into working in the public sector and setting my presence in the public space grow, I realised that there was a network gap for women who work in public spaces.
And thus, Northern Collective: Women in Public Spaces was born.
I can’t take full credit for it, I did some research to make sure I wasn’t creating something for the sake of it. The more people I spoke to, the clearer it became that something like this was needed, something to bring women in the public space together to problem solve and speak about their careers.
Along with a few women who helped me shape the event, name and lineup, I’m launching the event on Tuesday 30th April.
But here’s the catch, I won’t actually be there.
I’ve been accepted onto a leadership programme that clashes with the date. And it got me thinking, why do I do it? Why do I put myself out there to organising community events?
After thinking about it, I realised that I don’t do it for me. I organise events for the community and they need to happen whether I’m there or not.
I realised the whole point of Northern Collective is to hand it over to the community, for the network to shape it, design it and take it forward. This was never about me.
If I wanted to practice what I preach, I knew I needed to step back and let other people launch this and make it become something that everyone owns and runs.
But, why do I bother?
I’m a strong believer in creating the change you want to see. Lead by example. Challenge the things you disagree with, so you can make your world better.
I spend my time volunteering to organise and run events because I think it’s important to create spaces for people to come together and talk about the things that matter to them.
When I see and hear people speaking about the things they care about, offering new insights to the crowd and seeing strangers leave an event as friends — I know I’m giving something back to the community.
Communities around me give so much to me through support, friendship and learning, that’s important to me and my values to do the same. To keep giving back to people and hope that it helps make a difference to what they’re going through or experiencing.
Don’t get me wrong. It’s hard and it’s tiring. My friends and family often question why I do it. Why I spend so much time and effort into organising community events.
It all becomes worth it when I reflect back and think of some of the conversations I’ve had as a result.
One woman told me she’d struggled to leave her home since her husband passed away, but knowing one of my events was there helped her overcome it and meet new people.
I’ve had people from disenfranchised groups thank me for creating a safe, inclusive space for them to join in conversations that they’d normally been excluded from.
The bottom line of it is, if I don’t do something I believe in, who will?