We envision alternative futures of work where people have the conditions they need to flourish in the fullness of who they are and with the communities they belong to. These futures are abundant – full of connections, resources, and possibilities. But first we have to get to the root of why “work is not working” for many folks. As Dr. Angela Davis reminds us, “Radical simply means ‘grasping things at the root’.” Our dominant work culture is rooted in scarcity – having us believe that there isn’t enough to go around – and narrow definitions of success and worth – marginalizing those who don’t conform to them. It prevents us from expressing our unique strengths and needs, and erases the interdependent relationships that we have with each other, and community and land. This leaves many of us feeling stuck in our work, looking for meaning and belonging in spaces that aren’t designed to see and support our whole selves.
The roots of our business and education systems are many ‘isms’, mainly stemming from colonialism, capitalism, and supremacism. These ‘isms’ inform the conventional approaches to career training, professional development, and even social innovation and entrepreneurship. They often put the burden of success and fulfillment on the individual, while requiring them to conform to dominant ways of working and existing power dynamics. Groundswell invites you into a space where you can reimagine your work and livelihood beyond the grind, and beyond the false narrative of individualism. We do this through our person-centred approach to education which is rooted in social-emotional learning (aka “soft skills”), anti-oppressive practices, and relational ways of working. We’ll support you in putting your values to work, while affirming all the ways that you bring value – to your teams, organizations, ventures and communities.
Our shared principles are our values in practice.
These 4 principles guide us in creating an inclusive learning environment for our students and community members, while integrating our values in our ways of working. Groundswell’s team and board commit to practicing these principles in our teaching, decision-making, collaborations, and governance.
We invite you to as well – the more we practice, the more our shared space and culture reflect what we really stand for.
1 BEING OPEN TO UNLEARNING
We believe the work of social change involves being open to change ourselves. Our process starts from the inside-out: examining our own beliefs & narratives, unpacking how we are shaped by systems around us, and inviting accountability as part of our growth.
2 HONOURING LIVED EXPERIENCE
We believe that everything you have lived has value. Who you are, what you know and how you contribute is so much more than what’s on your resume. We affirm the parts of you that are traditionally shut off at work and in business – and centre what really matters to you.
3 VALUING SLOW WORK
We believe that slowing down allows us to be in right relationship with work. More than productivity or outputs, it values the work of purpose, the work of creativity, and the work of relationships. Slow work allows us to be human beings rather than human doings.
4 PRACTICING COLLECTIVE CARE
We believe that wellbeing is a shared responsibility. Moving beyond self-care, we advocate for our own and each other’s wellbeing – making space for our different needs for safety, care, and belonging. These principles need to be practiced collectively to truly create change.
An education praxis for social change: it’s personal, it’s systemic, and it’s collective.
At Groundswell we ground the personal, to influence the systemic, and join with the collective to create change.
Our unique 3‑prong education praxis has supported the diverse paths our students and alumni are taking to put their values to work: as social entrepreneurs, intrapreneurs, community organizers, artists, and non-profit leaders. It informs the way we approach business, leadership, and design education for alternative futures of work. It’s Personal: We meet you where you’re at and support you to tap into our values, strengths, and lived experience and define success on our own terms. We learn to compassionately work with our thoughts, emotions, and behaviours as we pursue new directions for our livelihood.
It’s Systemic: We challenge and unlearn the harmful narratives that are perpetuated in dominant work and education systems and get comfortable “naming the thing”. We support you in widening your perspective on work and the ways in which you can create and exchange value in more equitable conditions. It’s Collective: We’re not meant to do this work alone. Surrounded by Groundswell peers, you’ll cultivate collective and relational ways of working that honour your humanity and wholeness. We relearn what resilience really means and nurture our capacity to advocate for the values and people we care about.
Start creating a future you want, for yourself and your community.
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We’ll keep you posted on events, new program dates, resources, and ways of putting your values to work.