Here’s what I’ve been thinking a lot about lately: power.
At PNC we are constantly considering what it means to place people who usually aren’t, at the centre. Some of us are street involved, some are living on Ontario Works or Disability, some are refugees, some are dealing with a substance addiction, some have a mental health challenge that could range from depression to schizophrenia, some are under housed. The truth is people who struggle with these particular things are often pushed to the margins.
So what does it mean that these friends are the core? It means that we are shifting the power. Rather than it be about what I (in all my relative capacity) have for YOU, it is about what we have for each other. It is hopefully about inviting people into full participation of the community, in so much as they are able.
A piece of stone fruit has a centre, or core and is surrounded by flesh. Those two things together make a peach a peach. PNC is a place for all people, regardless of circumstance. We’re not suggesting that someone who has financial means, a house and an addiction to coffee *ahem* instead of crack has no role here. We’re just trying to turn the power structures that we are all so used to, upside-down.
In a sense we are creating space: space for us to realize that when you strip away the trappings of this world, we are all the same. And while we are fundamentally the same, we have been created with our own personalities and gifts. One could argue that I have power at PNC, and in some ways that is correct, except that I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that while I have a unique role to play, PNC is not about me. I also know that I am encouraged to bring what I have to offer by everyone there.
Power can be about the possession of control over others. It is all too often misused. Power can also be defined as the “capability of doing or accomplishing something”. That is what we long for at PNC: to have everyone contributing what they can, and in so doing, creating a very deep sense of community.
Fight Shift the power.