Communicating Kindness – the work is ours to do

Over the years, I’ve thought a lot about how housing operators and landlords communicate to tenants – whether it’s through email, letters, texts,  or in person. As a renter I received some pretty funky communication from past landlords. Emails were confusing and often left me feeling vulnerable and annoyed. Not a great combination.  One landlord never spelled my name correctly (or used spell check), and what he communicated often felt harsh and foreboding. Don’t get me wrong, our landlord was a really nice guy – he just wasn’t great at administering important information with care.  

Processing vs Venting: How we speak to & about others when we have difficult feelings

Brad’s* comment made my blood boil. “You’re not even trying,” he had said about (according to him) my lack of initiative. In our meeting, he spoke very harshly and just sat there with his arms crossed and eyes lowered. I was trying hard to make eye contact, to connect and find a way forward – somehow with a shared goal or need – but it really didn’t matter. It felt like his mind was set. I was wrong; he was right.  

Showing up isn’t easy. But we must.

How do you show up for work as a landlord or property manager?  

I’ve been thinking about this question a lot recently. How do I listen to people who are angry?  How do I communicate in a swift-reaction email? How do I listen (or not) to staff or tenants who are balancing work with life challenges in such an uncertain time. 

Recently, I’ve had the opportunity to share these questions with a small group of like-minded women who, like me, provide leadership to housing operations. It’s been really inspiring. One of the (many) things we’re in agreement about is that it is not easy to face the death of how things have been in the housing sector and to open up to the vulnerability of how things could be. But we must.

Cultivating Trust in Housing

Trust is difficult to talk about in our personal or professional relationships. It’s vulnerable. 

When I first joined SCS to help co-lead Co:Here, I remember one of my first dust ups was with a few applicants who questioned our application design. I remember them telling me that they didn’t trust our process because they didn’t understand it. I was so hurt. Rather than spend my time explaining the process carefully and clearly, my first reaction was a bruised ego and defensiveness.  Facepalm. It’s embarrassing now, but at the time their distrust felt like a massive personal insult.  It felt impossible to think repair would be possible when trust is broken.  

SCS Housing: Unfolding and Unlearning As We Go

“You are not breaking. You are not broken. You are unfolding” – Luca Fogale “Unfolding” song lyric

At a local neighbourhood meeting 25 years ago, a mental health advocacy group asked local churches what they were doing for the increasing number of homeless people. At the time, Grandview church wasn’t doing much. After that meeting a few members of the church formed Salsbury Community Society (SCS) and they began to operate three community houses in the neighbourhood. The idea was to bring a diverse group of people together and share life in an increasingly unaffordable neighbourhood. The “host community” in each house were often people from Grandview Church, and they invited people who needed housing to live there alongside them. 

Friends and Family: Let’s think twice before using them in our community work

By Jeanette Moss, Director of Strategy/Development and Team Lead at SCS

At Salsbury Community Society we are learning a lot about our values –  one of our values is Friendship “We companion one another, nudging each other toward greater trust and openness”. I’ve found this value particularly challenging to navigate and lead others in. In some ways, I like the word ‘kinship’ better as it’s less commonplace and rooted in ‘sharing’ but maybe I’m just trading a bad apple for a slightly less bad apple. In any case, here are a few ideas of why these words have been difficult for me. 

Thoughts on being (vs. doing) in community

By Jeanette Moss, Director of Strategy/Development and Team Lead at SCS

Presence is the most precious gift we can give each other – Marshall Rosenberg

At Co:here we strive to nurture relationships and a curiosity about neighbouring. One thing that we’ve been learning is that if our relating is only about ‘doing’; if it’s all about service; me helping you or you helping me – then our relationship is thin, vulnerable to conflict and takes a long time to grow.

Re-membering in a time of distance

By Jeanette Moss, Director of Strategy/Development and Team Lead at SCS

Bumping elbows at a kitchen sink. Stepping on toes while dancing. Two hands touch when reaching into a bowl. Walking into a person when coming out of an elevator.  When these physical altercations happen it reminds me

where I end and where your body begins. 

  

4 Years and 1 Global Pandemic Later – Keep Curious and Be Brave

By Jeanette Moss, Director of Strategy/Development and Team Lead at SCS

This is my 5th year of working for Salsbury Community Society (SCS) at Co:Here. Co:Here community is a group of people who live in a rental apartment building built on Grandview Church’s parking lot and operated by Salsbury Community Society (SCS).  SCS provides affordable housing with support for people from a range of backgrounds and works to foster a culture of neighbourliness.  

Five years 

As I look back at that first year before moving into the brand new building, I recall that it was such an intense time. For a small staff team of three, there was so much to do getting the building ready, screening applications and inviting the initial group of tenants, working with construction crews and tradespeople, setting up organizational and financial systems, and… and…. 

A Place to Call Home: Then and Now

Housing stories from Canadians includes Co:Here as a group of people working together to build better lives, create stronger communities and lend a helping hand to people in need, from opening to today.

THEN: Read the November 2018 article here.

NOW: Read the October 2020 article about Co:Here’s agile approach to fight COVID-19 here.

Nurturing Communities Conference

Launched in 2010, The Nurturing Communities Project (NCP) nurtures and resources intentional spiritual communities across North America. David Janzen, author of The Intentional Christian Community Handbook: For Idealists, Hypocrites, and Wannabe Disciples of Jesus recognized the need and value of bringing together more experienced communal groups and energetic leaders from younger communities to share old wisdom and new experiences for the long haul. The latest NCP conference was held in October 2014 in Chicago, hosted by Reba Place Fellowship, the home community of David Janzen.

Chris Hellewell, a member of Salsbury’s board of directors, and 2 members of our partnering church Grandview Calvary Baptist attended. They were sent to share and gain insights around intentional community living and to build connections with other groups to enliven and sustain our efforts. Their reflections on their experience follows.