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After 16 Months, the CSI Team is Taking A Moment To Breathe

Nikky Manfredi

Nikky Manfredi

Communications & Content Specialist

It’s been an overwhelming year and a half, to say the least. That’s why, from July 19 to August 13, the CSI staff team is taking time to recharge and reflect before we reopen (when it’s safe to do so). We’re calling these four weeks CSI Breathes

What is CSI Breathes? 

CSI Breathes is an opportunity for our staff team to collectively slow down a bit. We have all committed to lower the intensity of our work, mitigate Zoom fatigue by limiting internal meetings, and for many of us, to take that long-awaited vacation without coming back to Sunday scaries and an overflowing inbox (you know the one – that dreaded pile of emails that can quickly max out any energy you may have recouped while away). 

We aren’t closing up shop by any means. Carving out time to, on the surface, do less will actually give us a chance to do a lot more: get outside, be in nature, see our families and friends, and of course, prepare to ramp up for a (hopeful) September reopening of our buildings! 

Why are we telling you this? 

Rest is key to doing transformative work. In fact, mental breaks increase productivity. As we co-design the future of work, exhaustion from overwork will not be something we take with us, nor will it be a point of pride we hold up to the world as a marker of productivity, success, or virtue. We understand that not everyone can take a breath right now, that it’s a privilege to be able to slow down and recharge. The nonprofit sector and business world are often saddled by cultures of burnout, stress, and precarious labour. It’s time to change that.

Building the Next Economy – one that is regenerative, equitable, and sustainable – requires that we strengthen local economies through community wealth; create workplaces that allow us to bring our whole selves to work; and implement models that empower quality employment, so that prioritizing rest is no longer considered risky, privileged, or lazy (and isn’t something we feel the need to write a blog about). It’s the standard of a healthy economy as any basic human need should be. 

Building this kind of economy requires us to live out these values now. It’s why CSI is proud to be a living wage employer; why we took the last year to review and bolster our compensation plan; why we created the Community Rent Pool to support our members through crisis; and why we did not lay off a single staff member due to Covid and instead, got creative reassigning roles. It’s also why, from July 19 to August 13, our team will be doing the most transformative thing any of us could be doing after sixteen months of profound grief, loss, and uncertainty: we are going to rest. 

What does this mean for you, our members? 

Honestly, nothing major! Other than the fact that you’ll be receiving a re-energized staff team ready to welcome you back, we are up and running as usual and all member supports remain here for you. You may notice our CSI events calendar is a little less full and our newsletter is on pause, but otherwise, our community team is doing what they always do in the summer for our members: preparing for a jam-packed September! 

In fact, in the spirit of CSI Breathes, our CSI Annex Community Animator, Tara, collaborated with CSI Member, Challenge Factory, to bring you a three-part curriculum-based program designed for people looking to make a stronger connection between their values and the work they do, and to help them learn to communicate these goals in a collaborative way with their employers. 

Crisis is a profound teacher. Throughout the pandemic, our CEO, Tonya, has reminded us, “COVID is Mother Nature sending us to our room, and asking us to think about what we’ve done.” As our team takes some time to reflect on what the pandemic has taught us, Ignite Your Career is your chance to learn how to navigate uncertainty, identify the supports you need, and communicate your goals to your employers.

What are our staff members getting up to during this breather? 

Part of the fun leading up to these four weeks has been swapping stories with coworkers about what we are most looking forward to. Here are a few CSI staff members on what they are doing with their CSI Breathes: 

“I am excited to use the hot tub and brick oven pizza stove that my partner and I were building from scratch,” CSI’s WOSEN Senior Programs Manager, Mitalie, exclaims. “Looking forward to making gourmet pizzas and experimenting with various ingredients.” 

Our Community Animator, Tara, is “looking forward to disconnecting from my laptop, pulling out my paints, and staring at the blue and green wherever I can find it. […] It’s a little time to reflect and reconnect with myself and my purpose.” 

And like most of us, our Membership Animator, Andrea, says she is “looking forward to the opportunity to reconnect with friends and family, and embark on some short day trips. Where I end up? Not too sure yet, but I am thrilled to be out in nature more, take a dip in a lake, hug a few hundred trees, and play some sports — volleyball anyone?”

And when September comes? She says, “I’m excited to meet CSI members, old and new. I will take time to connect with more members, support their transition into the space, and welcome new members to the network.” 

We can’t wait! Until then, we breathe. 

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