Cornerstone’s Men’s Engagement Network
Celebrating 10 years of Walk A Mile
MENtality | encourageMENt | MENtors | engageMENt | fundaMENtals
Domestic violence has long been thought of as a “women’s issue,” but this is not an issue that can be dealt with by women alone. Over the past 10 years Cornerstone has rallied men to show their support for local women and children by participating in the annual Walk A Mile in Her Shoes event. Cornerstone continues to see the value in engaging men in the effort to end violence against women, and for the 10th anniversary of the Walk will be profiling and enlisting the help of men throughout the community; these men will be recognized as M.E.N – Cornerstone’s Men’s Engagement Network aka “M.E.N”
Cornerstone M.E.N is a group of men from the community that are committed to ending the cycle of violence against women. Through groups like M.E.N, we are engaging men as allies and raising the awareness of men’s roles in our work.
Each month we will profile one, or more, gentlemen, deeming them the “Man,” or “Men of the Month,” recognizing and showcasing their efforts to break the cycle of family violence.
Man of the Month
Occupation: Community Director, Green Wood Coalition
David has lived in Northumberland County since 1986, with his wife Beth and their four children. He started working in community outreach 10 years ago, and has been an involved member of the community ever since.
These days, David is the Community Director at Green
Wood Coalition. David is helping to break barriers within Northumberland County. Read on to find out more about David …
David's Full Biography
I’ve lived in various parts of Ontario, but Northumberland County has been my home since 1986. My wife, Beth, and I settled here at that time, and have always felt that this was a great place to raise our four children. I often note that my children have been my best teachers, and that’s more true today than ever. We have three grandchildren, also living in this area, and we are enjoying the new discoveries they have brought to our lives.
My work in community outreach started 10 years ago, but I think I was being guided to this place by many years of life experience. This feels more like a vocation than a job. Much of my career was in the painting trade, while spending off hours in community engagement through art projects, meals, church activities, music festivals and campfires. My writing—poetry and non-fiction—has been published in a variety of periodicals and anthologies. Writing is my favourite way to process some of the difficult days that one can encounter in this kind of work.
These days, I’m the Community Director at Green Wood Coalition, which is a people-level response to the disconnection of poverty and related social struggles. The work is difficult, at times, but also very inspiring because of the resilience of individuals that I encounter, and the encouragement of many people who work alongside me
What provoked you to become involved with poverty/homelessness initiatives?
I think that awareness of people who had been marginalized was something I observed from the way my parents lived and interacted with their community. There were numerous occasions where I saw them include people who were being pushed aside. My wife, Beth, and I got involved with individuals who were homeless in Port Hope after we were invited to a community dinner at Greenwood Tower Inn in 2007. It’s hard to define a set of reasons for getting involved—it just felt like we belonged there and there was work for us to do.
What role do you think Cornerstone plays in the lives of the women & children that we assist?
I think Cornerstone offers a safe, stable landing place that has very little stigma attached. Being a place that women can come to, as they are, without judgment or blame fulfills a real need in our community. When Cornerstone doesn’t “give up” on a person, which is a powerful opportunity for positive change.
Why do you think it is important for men to support women’s rights?
It’s important for men, especially cis-gendered, straight, white men like me to try to understand our privilege and how we’re contributing to the imbalance of respect and influence that women (and female-gendered people) have available to them, in our society. When we stumble or fail at this, we need to take the lesson, and keep trying.
There are unique gifts and perspectives that are part of a feminine worldview that have great value. We need to recognize those gifts and teach succeeding generations to pay attention, and continue to recognize them. Women need to have the space and the listening audience to be truly heard, and if men like me are in control of those things, and we exclude women, we are the ones who lose.
Why is it important for men to want to break the cycle of family violence?
Typically, men are physically stronger and have more rights in our society, so there is a weight on them to stop the cycle of violence and intimidation. While trauma and attachment issues may be a factor in the background, men have a lot of freedom to do the right thing, to teach their children by example and to do the work of self awareness.
What about Family Violence resonates with you most?
I am often troubled by the amount of emotional violence, intimidation and manipulation that women experience. As I spend time with women living in poverty, I see the fear and vulnerability that is part of their survival, as the least powerful in a hierarchy of powerless people. Those women often have no voice at all.
Who is someone you look up to and why?
Jean Vanier is definitely an inspiration to me. He’s the founder of L’Arche and one of our generation’s best thinkers and teachers in the area of being human and building community. His focus on the intrinsic value of each individual, regardless of ability or power, should be fundamental for anyone working the field of human services. I met him once and was most impressed by the gentle way he moved among people, and which people he gave most attention to—he lives what he writes.