If loneliness is an epidemic, Shecosystem is good medicine.

The table was set with salads and sweets, the lighting in the studio was low and the last rays of the setting sun filtered through the windows. More women arrived and we squeezed in two, three, four more chairs. Our first monthly Potluck + Perspectives began with a question:

 

What is community to you?

Community is ubuntu, interbeing, coming to know ourselves in relationship with all that surrounds us.

 

Community is where souls gather to be seen.

Community is hard to find when your friends move into different life stages

 

As we stuffed ourselves with vegan chilli and homemade truffles, we moved through topics from community building tips for online entrepreneurs to the challenge of honouring your boundaries as a community leader. We wrapped up with everyone lending a hand washing dishes, lingering in the kitchen chatting before going out into the autumn night.

 

Western society is starting to feel the impact of our fragmented, digital age in very real ways. Vivek Murthy, a former US Surgeon General has called loneliness an epidemic. Loneliness is associated with health risks from cardiovascular disease to anxiety, and this month’s Harvard Business Review cover story explores how it impairs our performance at work, limiting creativity, reasoning, and decision making.

 

Connected workplaces can be part of the antidote to this epidemic.

 

“Designing and modeling a culture that supports connection is more important than any single program” says Murthy, adding that “real connection requires creating an environment that embraces the unique identities and experiences of employees inside and outside the workplace” and citing kindness, compassion and generosity as the foundations of these relationships.

 

At Shecosystem, we are creating a workplace that is centred in a sense of belonging and supportive of genuine connections.  In a recent survey, 55% of our members reported feeling less lonely and 67% said they felt an increased sense of belonging.

 

Here are five ways we do this:

 

      1. We gather daily for Opening and Closing Circles where community members and guests reflect on what is going on in their lives and how it impacts their work

     

      1. We model vulnerability, even at the leadership level. Members know that they can ask for help with their businesses and are open to receiving it.

     

      1. Our events are not about passively learning new skills but about coming together to actively exchange information and perspectives. Events like Potluck & Perspectives let members and guests step up, share wisdom and ask each other questions about business. Our monthly Red Tents are co-created circles where we can be emotionally open, spiritually connected, and present for each other in a compassionate and generous way.

     

      1. The small size of our space creates a safe and intimate environment, while shared tables and open spaces allow for spontaneous connections to happen.

     

    1. Touch is important for connection, and you’re likely to get a hug – or five – every time you come in.

 

As we approach one year since the doors opened at Shecosystem, these genuine connections continue to deepen. And I know that they will sustain me as I prepare for a long, cold winter.

 

If loneliness is an epidemic, Shecosystem is good medicine.


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Emily Rose Antflick is Shecosystem’s founder and Chief Community Cultivator. With an M.A. in Education, Emily spent a decade teaching and creating transformative educational journeys in Canada and internationally. After experiencing a pervasive sense of depletion in her personal and professional life, Emily turned her attention to helping women like herself get unstuck and cultivate heart-centred communities that empower them to be their best selves. Emily proves that having a singular passion is not the only way to succeed: in addition to being an entrepreneur, she is a Rite of Passage facilitator, Permaculture Designer and dancer. Emily was a winner of the Startup Canada Women Founders Fund and has been profiled as a Woman of Influence and a local feminist to watch.

Dreaming Together: Shecosystem & Nurture’s ‘Dream, Girl’ Screening

Shecosystem and Nurture Retreats recently gathered over 30 women for a screening of Dream, Girl: a documentary profiling ambitious and inspiring women entrepreneurs. This film, with its all-woman production team and its  portraits of diverse models of women entrepreneurs and investors sends a powerful message.

It is a message that when venture creation is done in a way that honours our whole selves, it is a tool for women’s economic, social and spiritual empowerment, and in turn a force for changing the world.

Some of my top takeaways from the film:

1. The business case for vulnerability: According to investor Joanne Wilson:  “Vulnerability is one of the most powerful places we can be: it’s where we deeply connect with people, it’s where we engage people in cases that are bigger than themselves.”

3. Entrepreneurship builds resilience: Even someone as “successful” as Marie Forleo still admits to feeling fear and self-doubt.  As Clara Villarosa says, “You melt down, and then you melt up!”

2. Peers are powerful: Filmmaker Komal Minhas says of her ability to accomplish her goal, “It was always there…I just needed to surround myself with ambitious women so I could see it in myself.”

I loved watching the movie together (and snacking on Sonja’s truffle salt popcorn!) but even more powerful was our talking circle afterwards.  We created a safe container to name our fears and voice our dreams.

At registration, we gave each attendee two blank cue cards.  We asked them to write down a dream on one and a vulnerable share on the other, and to place them anonymously  in paper bags. After the screening, we pushed our chairs into a casual circle and passed the paper bags around. Each woman grabbed a “Vulnerable Share” card and read someone else’s fear aloud, commenting on how it landed with her.  Not surprisingly, each card resonated with someone in the circle, and this sharing sparked honest conversations.

Next, we passed around the “Dream” bag and encouraged each woman to speak up and own her dream when she heard it read aloud. Every time, the circle erupted into cheers of validation and support. From providing accessible healthcare services for seniors to going national with an eco-fashion line for kids, these women are visionary dreamers and courageous doers, passionate disruptors and uncompromising in their commitment to serve their communities.

Seeing the nods of agreement and relief around the room when each woman read her anonymous “Vulnerable Share” cue card and the cheers when we claimed our “Dream” cards reinforced Shecosystem’s purpose.

We are creating a space where working on your own dream doesn’t mean working alone.

It’s a space to give yourself permission to break out of isolation and into a space of innovation.

I hope you’ll join us, dream girls.


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Spring Clean Your Closet! Clothing Swap

It’s that time of year where we start to migrate our way back out into the world, spring out with new visions and ideas, and clear out the winter air in our homes…and our closets. 

 
 

Come join us at Shecosystem for an evening of swapping clothes, conversation, community and food.

Friday, April 21st @ 6pm

 

HOW IT WORKS

 

• Bring a minimum of 5 items to swap/donate
• You are allowed to swap an item for an item – this is to ensure fairensss to everyone involved
• If you do not find anything you’d like to swap with or you brought a lot with you, you may donate your items
• Any remaining items will be donated.

 

WHAT TO BRING

 

• At least 5 items you’d like to swap/donate
• Items can include: clothing, accessories and shoes (limit 3 pairs)
• Items MUST BE clean, washed and gently worn (no holes, tears, thinning of fabric, etc)
• Please bring a snack to share and extra bags to bring home your treasures!

 

If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out. We’re excited to celebrate a new season full of warm smiles and bright faces with you!