Trainee Spotlight: Sarah Graham from Retail Action Network

download.pngOn September 24 and 25, 38 Victoria-based organizers from Retail Action NetworkDogwood InitiativeSierra Club BCIron & Earth and Social Environmental Alliance spent two days learning about the power of storytelling, relationships in organizing and how to build a winning campaign strategy. 
Sarah Graham from the Retail Action Network tells us about her experience at the Organize BC Core Training and organizing for workplace justice.
1) What is your organization or campaign trying to accomplish? What are you going to be applying your training to?

The Retail Action Network brings together workers and labour activists to fight for workplace justice, increased wages and better conditions for retail and service workers. I hope to apply the Organize BC training to support the planning of our $15 & Change campaign (for a $15 minimum wage, an end to on-call shifts and more) as well as to internal organizing processes.

2) Why is the work of the Retail Action Network important to you personally? 

As someone who feels passionately about social justice, dealing with oppressive behavior in workplaces has made me feel really helpless. I recognize how unfairly businesses are able to treat their staff but I’m often relying on those jobs to cover my basic needs which makes it really frightening to speak out. And in the restaurant industry, the pay disparity between staff is totally unfair, especially between front (ie. servers) and back (ie. cooks) of house staff. Fighting these issues alone feels impossible, but working with the Network makes me feel like real change is possible!

3) What part of the training was most useful or impactful for you? Is there anything you’re going to be doing differently as a result?

I really connected with some of the tangible tools, such as developing a theory of change, that could be directly drawn upon to determine if specific ideas actually align with broader visions. Sometimes I get caught up in the excitement of a brainstorming session and lose touch of the direct link to the group’s mission. Also, hanging out with a room full of super people was good for heart and head!

4) Can you tell us of a favourite moment for you? It might be a story you heard, or a particular activity or concept.

Forming a human line to represent the spectrum of ages present at the event and being the youngest person! At first it was super intimidating, but everyone quickly made me feel very welcome.