Since 2008, the Niagara Social Justice Forum (NSJF) has been building relationships between student groups, activists and community organizations working on social justice issues in the Niagara region. Hosted by the Social Justice and Equity Studies Graduate Program at Brock University, the annual forum includes a day-long programme of concurrent activities, including workshops, performances, exhibits and information tables in a fair-like atmosphere. Topics explore a wide range of issues proposed and organized through an open call to people in the community committed to social justice.
At this years NSJF on Saturday, February 6, Lace Up Your Cleats will be presenting a workshop entitled: “Creating Community through Social Entrepreneurialism”, which will: introduce the basics of starting a small business that is community-oriented and socially conscious. The case study is Lace Up Your Cleats, my business that operates in downtown Toronto, which provides soccer and futsal programming to women, transgender and genderqueer folks. We will talk about social, walk through the steps of starting your own small business, and discuss different approaches to working with marginalized and underrepresented groups. The full schedule of NSJF 2016 can be accessed here.
I’m excited about the opportunity to talk about a topic that is near and dear to me, but also complex and important. The circumstances of things – the systems, conventions, assumptions, money, popularity, (in)visibility, stereotypes – they come together and inform everything. Sport is not exempt, we know this. How much of it do we see though? When women are shut out of lucrative contracts and venue space? When women don’t even bother with sport because it’s not something they consider for themselves? And for transgender and genderqueer folks, boundaries and barriers loom larger because gendered sport, more often than not, makes it impossible to figure out where they can participate safely, comfortably.
So I’m going to talk about this. What it’s like to be a social entrepreneur in an industry that has been challenging and difficult to navigate. And also the empowerment and exhilaration of being in a leadership position in sport, able to make decisions that are in line with my values, expand what’s possible for women, transgender and genderqueer folks in sport, and express the many facets of my skills and talents. I’m excited about Saturday, and looking forward to it.