Zoya Jiwa is a RADIUS Fellow studying Sociology and Sustainable Community Development at SFU. Check out her latest project, As We Are: style strategies & stories to navigate health conditions, and follow her at @zoyajiwa.
The RADIUS Fellows gathered each Monday night, leaving our work days behind to be presently engaged in conversation and collaboration. Within the first month of our meetings, truthful dialogue emerged around busyness, burnout, habits, and the emotional demands of our work. Each of us was chasing an opportunity that was close to our heart. While this made our work meaningful and authentic, it also demonstrated challenges to create space for guilt-free rest and self-care. It was refreshing to connect with new friends on this level, supporting one another in finding balance.
Monday nights quickly became the highlight of my week, even after seven hours of university classes during the day. There were endless opportunities to learn. I frantically jotted down notes and eagerly listened to our insightful guest speakers, including Al Etmanski, Sue Biely, and The Habit Course duo Cole Nakatani and David Kohler. We explored ways to leverage our networks and resources to propel our ideas forward. We held one another accountable to make small, positive shifts in our routines that would help us win at daily problems. We played with design-thinking tools, discovered ways to listen more mindfully, and vulnerably expressed our needs to our group to deepen the impact of our projects.
With a foundation of community and trust, we learned what we could give to others. In every meeting, each person was seen, heard, and valued. We spoke openly about ideas and possibilities that we might have otherwise hesitated to share. We generously offered our support, demonstrating both our heartfelt care and concern.
The result of these close connections was beautiful. We attended a variety of RADIUS events together, such as ConcAUCTION, the Failure Wake, and ReSchool conference. Additionally, we celebrated highly anticipated events coordinated by Fellows, such as the Frameworq upcycled fashion show, Starfish Top 25 Under 25 Environmentalist Awards, and the opening of Lupii Café – Vancouver’s first zero waste coffee shop. To wrap up the Fellowship, we embarked on a train tour from Vancouver, to Seattle, to Portland, and back to connect with a wider community of social innovators. It was a treat to spend the longest days of the year with bright leaders and learners. We caught a marvelous sunset on our journey home that was reflective of the trip.
The RADIUS Fellowship taught me lessons in personal and professional spheres. The Fellows saw each other through moments of excitement, stressful situations, and noteworthy accomplishments. We danced through changes and challenges, witnessed ideas come to life, and slowly unpacked big questions about ourselves, our community, and our world. During these five months, we were often left with bigger questions rather than clear answers. And that’s okay. Together, we shifted our problems into possibilities. The RADIUS Fellowship cultivated a sense of community that I longed for: abundant in rich connections, honest conversations, hearty laughter, and a genuine excitement to grow together.