Emerging SFU network connects people to collaborate on COVID-19 solutions
By Ian Bryce
As the world begins to recover from the health and economic impacts of COVID-19, people are trying to figure out how to adapt and build more resilient and vibrant communities. In B.C., the COVID-19 Response and Recovery Network is an emerging network to help address the effects of the pandemic on community resilience.
Initiated by SFU’s Office of Community Engagement, the COVID-19 Response and Recovery Network is a university-community-wide network that uses both Zoom and Slack platforms to foster new relationships, share resources and bridge dialogue across sectors.
Weekly Zoom meetings occur on Mondays at 1 p.m. that feature guest speakers and use breakout rooms to dive into specific topic areas. And the Slack workspace is open for anyone to join.
Joining the Network
Reddy, an associate director of Leadership and Community Building Programs at SFU Continuing Studies, was introduced to the COVID-19 Response and Recovery Network by a colleague at the City of Vancouver.
A project she supports hasn’t been able to provide its usual peer pop-up tech help cafes in the Downtown Eastside (DTES) in light of the pandemic, so she started to leverage networks outside of her own network.
She joined the network’s Slack community as one of more than 250 members.
“The Slack community is a kind of directory,” says Reddy. “People stay in touch, bring things to my attention and help keep me aware of funding opportunities and community work.”
The Slack channels are active throughout the week with 22 discussion groups ranging from knowledge mobilization to climate action. These discussion groups are managed by ‘channel champions’—volunteers who promote the channel, keep newcomers up-to-date on developments from Zoom meetings and continue the conversation.
Elizabeth Bishop is the channel champion for the Health and Social Services group. A Caregiver Support Program coordinator at North Shore Community Resources, Bishop came to the network because of the connection between the service provider experience, service recipient experience, and organizational development.
“I'm excited to think about how we can begin to take action and ensure the inclusion of a diverse range of voices,” says Bishop. “I think it's important that we hear not only from professionals working in hospital settings, but also those continuing to serve through non-profit organizations, and community-based programs.”
Conversations are leading to developments. According to Bishop, the diverse interests and voices in the network offer an opportunity to "deep-dive" into specific projects.
“Discussions within the Health and Social Services group have provided insight into how we might help meaningful conversations happen for those providing direct service in ways that support their sense of well-being and vocational fulfillment,” says Bishop.
For Reddy, the network has provided opportunities to connect and engage with people and organizations outside of her own networks.
The LinkVan project team would like to share the tech cafe model in other cities such as New Westminster and Burnaby. Reddy hopes that the COVID-19 Response and Recovery Network will help them connect and explore the opportunity.
“It’s a responsibility of the university to connect back with the community and the network’s participants reflect that very well,” says Reddy.
For more information on how to join and participate in the COVID-19 Response and Recovery Network, click here.