|Research Report for "Literacy for Women on the Streets"||Capilano College – November 2003|
We have experimented with formats and locations for the WAG meetings. Initially, the meetings were held in the WISH Learning Centre. But because the WISH Learning Centre room can only hold about 20 women, we held the WAG meeting in the church gym for several months. On WAG nights, dinner was served in the gym and the meeting started right away. This served to publicize both the existence and purpose of WAG and increased participation. The meetings were chaotic, yet fruitful. However, some women were frustrated that the main Drop-In room (the room with the couches, make-up and television) was not opened until the meeting ended. They wanted to rest, or use the make-up and shower services in order to get ready for work. After several months of using the gym, the WAG decided to return to the Learning Centre and invited everyone to keep coming.
Including everyone's voices is a challenge at WISH and participation in the WAG continues to be up and down. However, women who do attend have become more skilled at conducting meetings, taking minutes, initiating new ideas and advocating for themselves. We have also developed several literacy strategies to solve three problems that kept recurring in the meetings: following an agenda when everyone wants to talk now, getting input from a broader selection of women, being heard in the WISH organization.
Waiting for your turn to speak is difficult for some women and has resulted in women just walking out. We experimented with giving women a chance to talk right away, but this frustrated other women who had been patient already. In the end, we introduced a minutes sheet and encouraged everyone to take minutes of the meeting. There was also a place for individuals to write their ideas or concerns down. If the meeting didn't get to a specific item before a woman had to leave, then someone else would read the item and it would be recorded in the minutes. This process was mainly successful and it also was helpful to the minute taker because a variety of different views of the same conversation were recorded.
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