150 Profiles: Sarah Common

As a way to mark the 150th anniversary of confederation, The Philanthropist profiled Canadians from across the non-profit sector and put a face to 150 individuals who work or volunteer in Canada’s social sector. As 2017 drew to a close, we published our final profile of 2017 — reaching our target of speaking with 150 people! The Philanthropist recognizes that Canada’s history did not begin 150 years ago. And it will continue beyond 150 years. In this spirit, we will continue to profile people in the non-profit sector throughout 2018.

Name: Sarah Common

Current role in the sector: CEO of Hives for Humanity Society

Sarah Common profile picture

Years working and/or volunteering in the non-profit sector: 12 years.

What was your first job in the sector or a defining moment?
I trace my involvement back to a moment when I was volunteering at the end of a coffee line-up, as community members helped each other tip the urn to access the last cups of warmth. This was not the dark story I’d been told about the Downtown Eastside, growing up in Vancouver. This is just a glimpse of the depth of generosity that exists in this community, which is part of its resiliency and beauty.

Describe your desk/workspace.
I work in gardens and in apiaries, where we foster inclusive green spaces that offer opportunities to people and pollinators alike. These spaces foster self-worth and community pride, they offer respite, they grow interconnection, and they share joy; in them you can listen to the sage blowing in the breeze, the bees buzzing as they forage, the people laughing together as they work in the soil.

What are you reading or following that has expanded your understanding of the non-profit sector?
I just completed the Social Innovation Certificate at SFU Continuing Studies, which created space for me to step back and reflect both on where I fit into the systems that I work in, and how we might focus and scale our work for organisational sustainability and lasting social and environmental impact. Most importantly, I had conversations with the creator of Populous Map, an incredible resource sharing histories of this land that have been hidden, suppressed or not heard; that offer depth, beauty and connection; and a hope for real movement towards truth and through that, reconciliation.

What do you think our sector needs to be thinking about?
How can we break down the silos that divide us? How can we truly create inclusion? How can we deepen our acknowledgements of this land into meaningful opportunities to connect to and honour this place and its plants, waters and peoples, complex and individual, ancient and skilled, leaders and protectors?

Do you know someone we should profile as part of this series? Email us at philanthropistprofiles@gmail.com

Sarah Common is CEO of Hives for Humanity Society, based in Vancouver, BC.

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