The Principles of Partnership at USC Canada

Martin Settle and Jane Rabinowicz, Co Executive Directors, USC Canada

We often use the word “partnership” around the USC Canada offices. It informs all our programming, and also my day-to-day working life. My fellow Executive Director, Jane Rabinowicz, and I recently celebrated our first year sharing in the leadership of USC Canada. This unique partnership was a natural evolution after years of experience working together within USC Canada’s Senior Management Team. It feels like a good fit for an organization that believes we are stronger when we work together.

This vision of partnership has been with us for over seven decades. Our founder, Dr. Lotta Hitschmanova, understood that after the deep divisions of World War II, people needed to create a better world together. At home, Lotta mobilized thousands of volunteers across Canada to send supplies overseas. Abroad, she made sure USC Canada’s work was locally led. This approach made us unique, and our commitment to true partnership has only deepened over time. USC Canada’s policy, since 2007, has been to work exclusively through partnership.

Today, when we talk about partner organizations in five Canadian regions and 11 other countries, we understand it as a meeting of equals. Parties may bring different things to the table, but we are equal in investment, voice, and value. We have shared values, and are prepared to work through differences and across borders to make it happen.

Grounded in shared values and goals, partnership is a conscious and intentional collaboration between two (or more) independent agencies. A partnership approach recognizes that the value in the other is measured not only by their financial and material resources, but also by their knowledge, insight, and expertise. Partnership begins with a spirit of equality, recognizing that our liberation is bound together.

No single party holds all the answers or the tools to succeed, but together we might. We commit to each other beyond the lifespans of projects and budgets, because our contexts are ever-shifting. We commit to transparent dialogue about mission and practice, and open ourselves to a transformative relationship.

Partnership is about mutuality — working towards common goals, knowing that in doing so, we change each other. We invest because we want to help improve the lives of others, but also because we benefit as well. We gain lessons we can apply to our work with other overseas partners and with Canadian farmers.

Today, there is partnership in every aspect of our work. We partner with other organizations to advocate for farmers within the United Nations food agencies. We partner within the food and sustainable agriculture movement to help shape a more resilient food system here at home. We partner with other development organizations to ensure our work is sustainable and meaningful. We partner with the government to express the global vision of all Canadians.

Our partnership extends to our loyal supporters. Unitarians have always been dedicated to creating a more equitable and better-fed world, and we are delighted to work with you in making this happen. We want to learn from you. We love to receive your suggestions and advice. Please feel free to reach out to me personally at msettle@usc-canada.org. We can’t change the world alone. Together, our impact is stronger, the changes more lasting, and the work, in fact, lighter.  

 

Frances Moore Lappé to speak in Ottawa, Toronto

EcoMind: Changing the Way We Think, to Create the World We WantInternationally renowned Unitarian author and food activist Frances Moore Lappé, known to many UUs for her ground-breaking book Diet for a Small Planet, is visiting Canada on a two-city speaking tour organized by USC Canada: January 31st in Toronto, and February 1st in Ottawa.

The tour focuses on the ideas in Lappé’s new book, EcoMind: Changing the Way We Think, to Create the World We Want. The cost is just $10 + HST. Tickets are likely to sell out quickly, so booking early is encouraged. They can be bought on-line for both the Toronto and Ottawa events.

Lappé has been an active Unitarian since her early childhood. In her book Getting a Grip 2, she writes: “I was that little girl in Texas who as a preschooler came home from my friend’s Sunday school asking my parents, ‘What does ‘hellfire and brimstone’ mean?’ They quickly decided it meant they should found a Unitarian Church.” And they did.

She has written or co-authored fifteen books, received 17 honorary degrees, and is co-founder of Food First, the American News Service, and the Small Planet Institute. She attends First Unitarian Church in Belmont, Massachusetts.

This 4-minute video introduces Lappé and her work.