Let’s Shine Redux: Mentoring

 

 

a practice of mutual investment*

Bravo!  Now that we’re all happily ensconced in communities of women – networking with our peers and active in our friendship circles – what can we do with this marvellous achievement?  How do we build on it?  Where do we go from here?  

I’ve been a little obsessed with Aminatou Sow’s and Ann Friedman’s Shine Theory:  A practice of mutual investment with the simple premise that I don’t shine if you don’t shine. It describes a commitment to collaborating with rather than competing against other people — especially other women.*

A practice of mutual investment: What a beautifully appealing idea!  It seems to lend itself perfectly to the practice of mentoring and wouldn’t that be a fine legacy!

 

“If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.”
[Isaac Newton]

Standing on the shoulders of giants is recognition that without the conflicts, frustrations, protests, suffrage, and other movements of the generations before us, we’d never be where we are today.  So many of our accomplishments, our victories are because of their hard work and tenacity, because they fought for the vote, for birth control, for citizen status, because of their stellar efforts towards gender equality and mostly because they fought so valiantly and successfully to improve women’s rights.  In short, stewardship.

a practice of mutual investment*

 

Far beyond mere governance, stewardship is leaving the people who follow in our footsteps a little better off than we are and leaving our planet a better place than the world we inherited.  Just as we have stood on the shoulders of giants like Ishbel Hamilton-Gordon** Nellie McClung*** Emily McCausland**** and Dorothea Palmer***** the moral obligation inherent in stewardship demands that we protect and preserve their legacies, that we  defend against regression and that we impart that heritage to the girls and young women in our lives.

a practice of mutual investment*

 

How do we begin this practice of mutual investment?  It could be a bit of a sticky wicket, depending upon the young women in your life and your relationship with them. Our years and experiences make us uniquely  qualified to share our accumulated wisdom with the next generations – our daughters, granddaughters, nieces, students, parishioners, neighbours and friends.  One way of doing this is to be a good role model; demonstrating by example that we are keen to spend time within our own communities and that we look out for and care for those people.  From a mentoring perspective, the kindest and most enduring exemplar we can share is the wisdom to recognize true friends, the value of shaping a friendship circle of their own and the importance of networking.  Their communities.

a practice of mutual investment*

 

How can we introduce the topic of community in a way that is current, relevant and engaging?  A good start is to ask questions and I (thanks to the genius of Mary Oliver) have a brilliant, imaginative and provocative suggestion: 

“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”
[Mary Oliver]

Wild and precious… Just imagine the responses!  My experience is that, in a safe, comfortable environment, most folk really do like talking about themselves.  Your questions could include cues about their activities or their favourite subjects and teachers or their job and career aspirations.  You may hear tales of injustice, bullying, racism, homophobia and stereotyping – the majority of Canadian students deal with one or more of these indignities every day; at college and university, in the school yard, the cafeteria and even in the classroom.  This probing allows you to introduce not only the concept but the benefits of and your personal experiences with community and networking.  With a bit of luck, your conversation will become the intersection of feminism, friendship and activism.

a practice of mutual investment*

 

With mentoring, a cautionary tale best expressed by Mr. Steven Spielberg:  “The delicate balance of mentoring someone is not creating them in your own image, but giving them the opportunity to create themselves.”

Let’s begin our practice of mutual investment.* Let’s generously share our history, our knowledge and experiences, the lessons we’ve learned and our hopes for their futures.

’Til next time, y’all…

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*Please, please click Shine Theory to read more. Ann Friedman is a magazine editor, journalist, podcaster, and pie chart artist. She writes about gender, politics, and social issues. I encourage you to visit her website: https://www.annfriedman.com

**The National Council of Women of Canada (NCWC) was founded on October 27, 1893, by Lady Aberdeen, Ishbel Maria Hamilton-Gordon, Marchioness of Aberdeen and Temair, GBE, wife of the Governor-General of Canada.

***Nelllie joined the Women’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU) to help stop the problems associated with alcohol abuse, and this led to a passionate interest in the women’s suffrage movement as well. In addition to the WCTU, Nellie joined several other reform groups focused on the advancing women’s suffrage movement, and became a founding member of the Political Equality League.

****SHORTT, EMILY ANN McCAUSLAND (Cummings), journalist, publicist, activist, social reformer, and office holder; b. 11 May 1851 in Port Hope, she was the Globe’s first society reporter, and the first woman appointed to the editorial department of the Globe (in fact, the first on any Canadian daily newspaper’s editorial board).

*****Right-to-birth-control advocate, Dorothea Palmer, played a pivotal role in the movement to legalize birth control in Canada. She was arrested in 1936 for promoting birth control but was cleared of charges after her lawyers proved her work had been for the public good. Her acquittal was a major victory for the birth control movement in Canada.

 

3 thoughts on “Let’s Shine Redux: Mentoring

  1. The concept of mentoring is very interesting, Pamela. I worked in a place where we had three generations of women working there. At different times, I felt we mentored each other. You make a good point, where ultimately actions speak louder than words. A great post again! I loved all the black and white photos!

    • Thank you so much, Erica. I’ve encountered far too many women who won’t help each other, possibly because they feel safer/more powerful if they alone have the knowledge. Such a shame! How’d the first week of school go for your grand kiddos? Well, I hope! xx

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