Collaborative Movements For A Better Future

Join us as we welcome back Ashley Proctor, coworking maven, serial entrepreneur, global coworking movement leader, and advocate for Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity talks with Tash Koster-Thomas, Director of DEI at European Coworking Assembly and the Author of the Coworking IDEA Handbook.

In this episode, Ashley and Tash discuss how Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Accessibility should be the blueprint for humanity and the foundation of everything we do, in conjunction with the launch of the Coworking IDEA Handbook. And how important it is to keep talking about it, now more than ever as society fights back against societal injustices.

That we are on the threshold between the old and the new, and we must actively choose to build the future that we desire. We must step up and take on roles at city hall as well as leadership positions in our own organisations.

Stepping up could mean stepping aside to allow for new mentorship leadership, opportunities for reverse mentorship, and listening to and engaging the youth.


Coworking IDEA Project

Creative Blueprint

Breaking the Distance

Tash Koster-Thomas 0:00

Hello and welcome to the Coworking Values Podcast! My name is Tash Koster-Thomas and I am the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Director for the European Coworking Assembly. I am also a freelance Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Consultant, as well as the author of the ECAs IDEA handbook, and your host for today’s episode. Encase you weren’t aware, the IDEA handbook has been created to support coworking communities in becoming more inclusive, diverse, equitable, and accessible. We are currently hosting a series of conversations with the IDEA leaders and advocates from across the globe to highlight the importance of this topic.        


Tash Koster-Thomas 0:48

Okay, so without further ado, I’m now going to hand over to our guest Ashley this week. And actually, I’m gonna let Ashley introduce herself. So please introduce yourself in whatever way feels relevant and right for you today.


 Ashley Proctor 1:00 

Oh, what a great way to start. My name is Ashley Proctor, I am a coworking Maven. I’m an artist. I’m a serial entrepreneur, an alchemist. I think like a connector. Community Organiser. I’m a leader in the global coworking movement. And I think most importantly, I’m an activist and an advocate and an auntie.


Tash Koster-Thomas 1:19

That is a good introduction. I think I’ve connected with a lot of those elements of you over the years, particularly the alchemist and connector. Definitely, I see that a lot in what you do. And so I’m asking every guest this question to begin with? Can you describe what IDEA means to you? I guess just to break that down. Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Accessibility? What does it mean to you?


 Ashley Proctor 1:43

Whew, that’s a loaded, gigantic question.


Tash Koster-Thomas 1:46

I know, it’s like, the meaning of life.


Ashley Proctor 1:48

No, I mean, it feels like that! It really does in the sense of IDEA. I mean, it’s essential elements, it’s like the foundation for all operations here on Earth. It doesn’t make sense to me, other than for it to be seen as a blueprint for humanity. We, unfortunately, have to teach it. We’re teaching corporate leaders and political leaders and our neighbours and our family members about inclusion and diversity and equity and accessibility, really, it should, I think it should be the foundation for everything you do. And it seems like a very obvious place to start with, with everyone feeling like they matter, with everyone having the same access, the same rights, the same opportunity. And we’re so far from that it’s a really intense wave… I’m going through now thinking about this as a whole. I think of this in such a big picture way, all these smaller elements around, the initiatives we take to improve, it makes sense. So this is an ongoing effort. I can’t believe how much effort it takes for these basic human rights.


Tash Koster-Thomas 2:52

Yeah, it’s funny when you when you actually position it like that, and you think about, for anyone who has or is connected to a young child, and the values that you want to impart on a child, which is to be kind, to be loving, to be caring, to be nice to your friends in school on all of these things. And it’s sort of at what point between that childhood innocence to adulthood and working and being in society, do you then all of a sudden forget all of these values and have to relearn how to become kind and how to be considerate and how to communicate with people at certain points. And yeah, when you sum it up like that? It’s yeah, it does feel like why is it like this? I guess why is it such this… challenge that is often challenged. I think that’s the other thing around it, right? Is you sometimes see this, pushback or resistance to IDEA as a topic, or even as a goal as a whole, which I find really fascinating.


Ashley Proctor 3:45

I feel like the pushback definitely comes from the people who are currently in positions of privilege and power and that the very select few who these systems were built for. This isn’t that we operate today. Really only built to benefit a select few people. Colonisers, white wealthy, well connected men, a very small group of people who are comfortable owning property and people. Those people are also really committed to maintaining their power in their positions of privilege. They take pride in protecting the status quo. And all those systems of care A troll. And it’s a very small group, but they’re thriving within a really highly corrupt and competitive capitalist landscape. And those folks have a large interest in keeping things the way they are.


Tash Koster-Thomas 4:34

That sense of loss, right. And that’s often a lot of the challenge I get in sessions is,  what am I giving up in order for somebody else to have? And it’s a much bigger conversation, and that it’s a much bigger goal, if you want to make it that it’s not even a goal, much bigger benefit than you losing anything. I guess my next question is, everybody I use this term really lightly is in this work in inverted commas, has absolutely had a journey to getting to where they are and their understanding of it. And I’d love for you to share some of your own journey with IDEA and understanding it and getting down into the trenches, I guess, in doing the work.


Ashley Proctor 5:12

It is definitely connected to themes that run deep and are so essential just to sort of me and my vision and my values, as long as I can remember, and it’s based on a huge part of who I am is centred around equality and equity, justice and fairness. And that’s been since I was a child, and I can’t explain where that comes from. It’s just the drive for almost everything I do. And I also think that I had a really incredible example from my parents growing up in terms of their community service and community leadership. It wasn’t particularly political or controversial, or being an activist or progressive in any sense. But it really did show a deep rooted caring, and caring for the community and the children in the community and the neighbours in our community and treating everyone equally, and ensuring that everyone had what they needed to survive and thrive. And I think that was a really incredible example of growing up without knowing it at the time. And then I can see, sort of as I’m growing, I’m just thinking back, transitioning through my punk rock years as a teenager, and really feeling connected to the anger, and the disillusionment, and the frustration with current systems, and the way things were being managed, and the man really. Why is this system built this way? Why does it have to be this way? Why did we decide to create such an unfair and unjust way of being? Why do we even carry that forward when we know better now? so these questions are really boiling and brewing through those angry years. And that, of course, turned into direct action and activism and advocacy in my college years. And I feel like just as a natural problem solver or organiser, as a entrepreneur at heart, I’m always looking to provide a solution and a way forward or organise a container, or manage a space, or hold space for solutions that are community led and so all through college, I did union organising, and direct action with students for the issues that mattered to the student body. And luckily moving to a big city and being in a really diverse population, exposed me to hundreds and 1000s of different perspectives, cultures, religions, all these backgrounds, and it was so refreshing, it was so inspiring and I’m just like a Knowledge Seeker. I’m constantly looking for knowledge, I always want to be learning and growing, and to be surrounded by people who are different from me and had different experiences. And I really recognised quickly, the strengths in diversity and the diversity of thought and experience IDEA and what these folks brought to the table. It is as if we have been intentionally excluding knowledge and progress and all of this, it’s absolutely ridiculous, and so it was so refreshing to be in community there and be in community with other organisers and people fighting for justice in the streets and and also at City Hall and and becoming more engaged in terms of policy change and becoming entrepreneurs and treating their employees differently. People directly taking action that really inspired me. And of course, I also have my own experiences with domestic violence and discrimination and police brutality and trauma and loss and disability and poverty and hunger and homelessness. And these are not badges, I’m not proclaiming them to be that way, but their experiences that really give you a taste of what it’s like, what the impacts are of these systems. And I’m a straight white, English woman living in Canada, I have universal healthcare, and a family doctor, and social services and food banks to rely upon and an amazing emotional support system behind me. And those experiences were still absolutely terrible. And the solutions were mostly inaccessible to me. So if that’s what my experience was, and thinking very clearly about what other people would have to go through in any of those situations, layering upon other identities, it’s not acceptable to me that people have to work so hard just to survive. It doesn’t make sense to me that people are not treated equally, it really just, I work really…


Tash Koster-Thomas 09:14

I can hear the frustration in it. 


Ashley Proctor 09:21

This is a part of this work, I think. My biggest entrepreneurial success might just be a screaming booth for activists and organisers. They just go in and let it go. And I mean, just rebrand a phone booth from coworking to the screaming booth for activists and organisers. 


Tash Koster-Thomas 09:41

It’s so interesting to hear. I think, sometimes we don’t necessarily connect all of the dots in terms of when we speak about that journey. We often are generally connected to – I personally have felt some form of injustice based on the identity that I hold- or those close to me. And I’ve witnessed something in my immediate life, and that’s almost been my call to action. But that often doesn’t acknowledge all of that foundational work that was happening from a really early age in terms of the values, the behaviours that were being rolled out to you at that young age. And then that slowly blossoms into what it looks like today. In that feeling of, I cannot say… I can’t leave this alone, I’m witnessing this, and it’s not okay just to walk away, I can’t just be a bystander, I have to take action in whatever form that comes in. And it’s just really fascinating to think of… I don’t think we often give ourselves credit for that long journey, but also those influences around us. There’s a lot mirrored in my own experience and what you’ve just shared there. In terms of equally, the values that were taught to me when I was younger probably explains why I’m in this space now. And ironically, I found out recently that my mum was the diversity lead at the hospital back in the 90s, when I was tiny. And the first time it was just diversity then there wasn’t an inclusion and equity and accessibility we hadn’t got that far. And it was just diversity in the hospital. And she was one of the leads on that team, the first ever team in that hospital. And I was like, That’s really fascinating to find out because I never knew that. And then here I am 20-30 years later, doing the exact same thing. This is all connected in a funny way. And you mentioned, in terms of some of the things and some of the work that you do now, and that you’ve experienced over the past few years. And I think that maybe one of the positive things is that I do think that we are at a tipping point, I think globally, but also potentially locally and nationally in terms of the types of conversations that are happening publicly. And now, even since I’ve been in this space, sort of officially the idea of bringing up diversity and inclusion would be like an old “hmph” or  that’s what I did would be like, “Well, what’s that then?” and now it’s like, “Oh, you do that?” And there’s an understanding and a knowledge towards it. What would you like to see going forward now that we are kind of at this tipping point, it’s more mainstream, as it were in inverted commas.


Ashley Proctor 12:05

I think I want to see more people actively engaged, I know there are a lot of people who are scrolling through Instagram and see a statement and go totally. And they like it, and they know it, and they believe it, and they scroll on by. The action that comes with those values is really important to me. And I think that we are at a tipping point, as you say,this is a real opportunity. And I think it’s slipping away as the conversation slips away from the pandemic as well that we’re still currently experiencing globally. I think that this is an opportunity to disrupt the status quo and to rebuild differently. And I think that we’re on this threshold between the old and the new. And we actually have to choose to actively build the future that we want, we have to choose to hold the space for the conversations, we have to choose to create a brave and a safe space to talk about these things, and to work collaboratively with our neighbours, we have to step up and take on roles and at City Hall and leadership roles in our own organisations. Stepping up might look like stepping aside and making room for a new leadership for mentorship opportunities for reverse mentorship, and really listening and engaging the youth. So I’d love to see more people taking up the church to start with speaking up and getting involved in actually doing something to keep this momentum going. Because another key part of the strategy really, for great systemic or social changes that we have to prevent burnout, as well. And that collaborative nature is what allows that to be possible. And so I say this all the time, I’ll say it again, I love this quote around, activism being like singing in a choir. And we can all take a breath, because the note will be held by the other choir members while we take our breath, and then continue on singing the note. And we need to take a break in our work to be able to continue doing the work, we need to take a breath to keep singing. And that’s only possible if other people are going to be there to keep singing in our absence. And so we can’t create systems where we have powerful leaders or singular individual leaders making decisions or running organisations, we need a real collective effort and the ability to step down and step up and step down and maybe step back and step in or to prevent that burnout. And the last thing I think we need is around philanthropic culture, I think we need a change there as well, to a solidarity mindset. We treat things as charity and we’re doing good by donating to poor people in need. We’re doing the world a disservice. We’re even doing our work a disservice. What we need is people to say that is a human being in need. And that is a thing that needs to change. And I have just as much responsibility as anyone else to change it. And I have just as much responsibility as anyone else to make sure that that person has everything that they deserve. We all deserve these opportunities for safety and shelter. And the most basic human rights and so I really, really want to see that shift from charity to solidarity.


Tash Koster-Thomas 15:01

Some really key things in terms of, I think, bringing up the fact that social media has been a massive part of that tipping point in terms of how we’re able to have conversations at a global level, versus relying on one source of media, to steer a conversation or to have it. And it’s really that idea of a… I’d remember when I first started initially really getting into sort of the advocacy space from an LGBTQ standpoint. And I remember back in June 2020. And we’re having that as well conversation around the murder of George Floyd and absolutely feeling that sense of burnout from the fact of, if I don’t step up and speak or answer to this or or put myself forward for this or say yes to this then the opportunity will be lost and it may never come around again. And absolutely there is that need for knowing that there is that collective support. So when I’m taking a break, and recharging, or resetting, or just absorbing and processing that there is somebody else that can lead the charge because I think a lot of people feel guilty, right? When I’m not doing something, I’ve been so active and now I’m not doing anything. And now, I feel like I’m letting people down, I’m letting my community down by not being in that position. So yeah, I really like pushing forward, finding that sense of community and collaboration in order to be able to do the work in the first place.


Ashley Proctor 16:23

Yeah, activists and community organisers, educators, caregivers, parents, and elder caregivers, for example, experienced burnout at such high rates. And they’re holding space, they’re doing so much emotional labour. On top of that, being connected to these issues, personally and really directly, if you’re doing frontline work, for example, and firsthand in the Downtown Eastside, it’s an entire other category of labour, you are doing just to be in those those roles and to be in doing that kind of work. And it comes from a service mindset. But there’s a line, and I’m trying to figure out where that line is, because at some point, it stops being productive, and it starts to be at the expense of your own well being and that in turn becomes an expense of the collective if you’re not there, to carry someone else’s note. And so we owe it to our organisations, and we owe it to ourselves, and we owe it to our families and to our ancestors to rest, to take breaks that this self care is really essential for the collective good, we all need to be able to do this. And every time I feel this guilt, or self doubt around resting and stopping, or have to remember that that was a created feeling that feeling is intentional, someone wants me to feel that way. So I’ll get back to work. And that’s not what we need to create healthy, collective collaborative movements and a better future for everyone. So I think it’s really important to put people’s health and well being first. And that includes our own.


Tash Koster-Thomas 17:51

Yeah, it’s so funny, when I deliver sessions and maybe I’ll have someone come into that space, who I can feel resistance from, some of that resistance, is that this is new, I don’t really understand it, I’m not really sure why I need to be here. And then I see those penny drop moments and those light bulb moments for them as they connect to the conversation and start to understand it in a different way. And part of me is like, “yes!”, that’s a little bit less of my energy that I have to give knowing that that person is going to leave this space and have a little mini ripple effect in their community, right, that’s like that one times one, times five, times five, times five kind of feeling. And it’s exactly like that, finding those ways that you obviously won’t get everybody to be necessarily as passionate or as driven as you around a particular topic or a movement, but finding people at least to feel somewhat connected to it, or inspired by it, to then go away and even have small conversations is still doing something, and connecting. Do you have a vision? And I can maybe whittle this down a little bit, I guess, both for your immediate community thinking to that and the communities that you work with? Do you have a specific vision for the coming future of what you’d want it to be or look like? Or your work to look like?


Ashley Proctor 19:09

Yeah, that’s an interesting one. I actually spent the last month reconsidering my vision and values. I try to use January every year as an opportunity to realign myself with to realise my work and myself with my personal and professional values. And so I’ve been thinking a lot about what we’re trying to do. And so I think probably the best summary right now would be a just recovery or collective path forward. I really feel this has to be a collaborative effort. So even though there’s a lot of work to do, like a lot of work, we know this right, we know the solution, the actual solutions, is very very simple. And it’s just a collective agreement between human beings. We just have to agree on the basis that we all deserve clean air, you know, freshwater. We all have to protect and care for the land if we can just agree. We have to protect and care for the wildlife, and we all have a right to healthy food and shelter and safety and medicine and education and equal rights. These are very basic agreements, but it has to be a collective agreement. And right now the agreement we’re operating under is that it’s okay for a few select people to be extremely wealthy and powerful, and the rest of us to work to serve that interest at the expense of our health and well being, and safety and medicine and education and equal rights. And that’s an agreement we need to change. So my vision is that we come to that collective agreement, and there are many, many ways we can work towards that. So I am extremely appreciative of work that is done at an internal level, just people working on these issues in themselves thinking about it, reading about it, they don’t have to be participating outwardly, but just just thinking about it. And really becoming aware. There are efforts you can take within your own organisations, within your own families and private groups, changing things, there are changes we can make, at a policy level, working through politics, in the government relations, there are things we can do at the philanthropic level, where we have connections to funders, there’s things we can do in the nonprofit level, there are things we can do in entrepreneurial spaces, like social enterprises, and coworking communities, there are so many ways that we can contribute towards getting to this collective agreement and putting the systems in place to sustain that set up the model that we currently have. And so I’m really grateful for every little piece that people do in service of that work.


Tash Koster-Thomas 21:23

And in terms of like… it’s such a beautiful vision it is one that I completely aligned with, in terms of and you boil it down, and it’s when we put it in that simplest form, right? This is the vision that everybody has those really basic human rights. Why haven’t we all collectively agreed to that? What is the challenge there? And I guess, obviously, understanding from what you were saying earlier, there is a key small core demographic of people who hold on to a lot of both the decision making, but also the financial power, the commercial power, everything else behind those decisions. But I guess what pieces do you think are missing? From that vision becoming true? At more of a grassroots level? What would you say to the everyday person in terms of reaching that bit, because I also believe that whilst we have that vision as a global thing, and I think often we focus on trying to shift the mindset of that number one person sitting at the top of the pyramid. And it’s really around the mindset of those, that much broader demographic of people at the bottom of the pyramid. What do you think are the missing pieces in order for that vision to happen?


Ashley Proctor 22:30 

I think a lot of people forget how powerful they are as an individual. And then I also think a lot of people underestimate how powerful we are as a collective of individuals working towards a goal. And so people really just need to trust that when they take an action, there will be a ripple effect. And also be courageous. I think people need to be more courageous in the sense that there are real consequences for putting some of these changes in place for some people who hold power and privilege. And there are real consequences for speaking up for the right thing in a room full of people who disagree. Yeah, there are real consequences to your work, to your career, to your income, to your housing, to your stability to your reputation, there are a lot of people who will push back. And in some cases, it’s not safe yet to speak up fully. And so we can’t expect people who are being discriminated against and oppressed and persecuted and marginalised to be the ones to carry this load. As people who are privileged in some sense, whether that be just that we live in a country that is currently stable, we have shelter, we have food, maybe that’s currently our state. We have an opportunity as well with that stability, we have an opportunity to become a contributor in a positive way towards solving an issue. And I think we really need to focus on our own commitments and accountability, if we can commit to taking a bit of time each month reflecting on this. I think it would expand into taking some time each month to do more work, or to make a decision that’s aligned with those values or to help out in some way or to have a conversation with someone that affects the change. But also just the remembrance that small actions ripple out if you stop tolerating certain jokes in your friend group, if you don’t allow a conversation to continue at the dinner table that is coming from your racist uncle. If you stand up on social media and say, “That’s not acceptable”, even messaging someone privately and saying, “I’m here standing with you. I know this is, this is not fair. And I’m here with you publicly and privately.” There are small ways that have big, big ripple effects, we really need to believe in that. And we need to hold ourselves accountable as well, we can’t say we’re going to do things that we wish things would change that we want things to change, and then back that up with nothing, we have to back that up with action, we have to back that up with money, we have to back that up with time and energy, and commitments. And that’s not just lip service from organisations, or tokenising speakers at conferences and events. It’s a real representation. Real involvement is really thinking about how we elevate leadership, real, incredibly talented, diverse leadership. And I also, I think a big piece that’s missing from this vision,  missing from the reality right now for decisions to happen is having a real focus on indigenous rights and stewardship of the land. A lot of the issues we’re experiencing, are directly related to colonisation, are directly related to removing indigenous people from the land. And just placing people and ignoring established and proven techniques for stewarding the lands and the wildlife and caring for the gifts and natural resources that we have on planet Earth. So I think a big piece of moving forward is work reconciling with indigenous people and land back movements and stewardship of the land. And another piece is, I think the missing engagement with our youth. And so looking to ancestors and looking to our youth. I think it is essential, and a lot of the youth are growing up knowing the way it needs to be. Not a hope, not a vision. They know. And they’re very aware of how we’re getting it wrong. And I think they’re empowered, and they’re going to be incredible leaders as soon as we get out of their way. And so I think anything we can do to engage meaningfully with the youth and empower them and learn from them and put their ideas and practices into action now, before they have the power will be advantageous as well. 


Tash Koster-Thomas 26:19 

I think especially, in terms of speaking about youth and young people, the type of tools at their disposal. Now since the internet and social media, and just the fact that everybody is certainly thinking more so western world walking around with a mobile phone, right? And being able to make that connection and have that influence literally being known as influences. But let’s use that in the most powerful and productive way possible. Rather than just “I get lots of free stuff for taking pictures of myself.” But yeah, there’s so much to it. But I think that what you’re saying there around that sense of action, like it always comes down to action. And there’s so many people who you can sit around and “oh, wow, you really had to go through that, oh, my gosh, I can’t believe this is happening. That’s awful full stop.” Continue with the rest of my day. And where does that go? What is it that is the thing that sparks you to then do something, whatever that doing is, maybe it is and I also think action can be that you just take the time to learn. And to understand more it doesn’t necessarily have to be the action is you start protesting or you’re writing hundreds of letters to MPs it can be letting me really understand this challenge, or whatever this injustice is so that I can really add to that hate for it in the spaces that are operating as a huge part of that. Now I know that you are the queen of resources and ways of supporting and there is one very big resource that we can not have this conversation and not talk about anyone who doesn’t know about it. What resources can you suggest for the audience to learn more? In terms of how they can take action?


Ashley Proctor 27:57

Yeah, I would suggest really the coworking IDEA Project website as a great starting point for organising and resources. In coworking communities and beyond. It’s really designed to be used for multiple industries and teams and alliances. I guess to clarify, for those who don’t know, the coworking IDEA project is really an informal organisation. It’s bound together by a group of collaborative coworking leaders and alliances and consultants, ourselves included, who are really committed to inclusion, diversity, equity and accessibility in the coworking movement, and beyond. In terms of my own role in the project, I manage the project. And I ensure that it happens and I do fundraising and sponsorships behind the scenes and some of the challenge production and co hosting. But to be very clear, I am not an IDEA expert by any means. That’s just not my experience. And what I am, is really committed to the cause. And so that’s one of the ways that I take action in the world. And what we do though, through the project is each month we bring in a facilitator, or co host, to issue a challenge to the coworking world into other organisations, to really think about a specific topic and think about different questions, do audits in your own organisation, in your own space, and think about ways to improve and there may be some resources or templates or guides to use, it’s a starting point to launch a deeper conversation. So that these issues are front of mind as we move through the year. And that way, we’re always reminded to be doing the smaller incremental work. None of us can wake up tomorrow and overhaul our entire organisations or we can’t create a non racist system tomorrow, that’s not going to happen and takes time. And it takes small movements by everyone to get there. And so this is what the project is really designed to do. But because of that format, we get to actually share the knowledge of experts in the work and we have special guests come in each month to share their knowledge and expertise. And then they also share their networks of resources and links to really well designed supports for those challenges. So I’d suggest everyone go to And check that out the past challenges will stay up for a while as well. So you can go back and take a look at some of the other challenge topics. And we always link out to the IDEA professionals as well, because we want you to follow up with them directly. If you’re looking for experts to come in and work directly with your organisation. Or if you want someone to come and talk to your group. That’s what they’re there for. We’re trying to bring their knowledge and them as experts and facilitators out to a larger audience, in the hopes that you’ll all learn from them and take advantage of those opportunities to connect and to meet and work together.


Tash Koster-Thomas 30:48

It’s such a cool project. I have had the honour of being involved in it on multiple occasions and leading on challenges. And it’s funny, I actually had a small organisation reach out to me recently, they’re based in the Netherlands. They’re a team of 30 people. And they were at the point where we understand the need to have these conversations in our company. And we’re trying to put together a DNI strategy. And this is completely new to us. And we have a limited budget right now. But we want to be able to start this conversation and are there any resources and I was like, “Go to this website, IDEA project. Don’t be put off by the fact that it talks about coworking because it’s relevant for you. And there’s monthly challenges and I would suggest that this is a great starting point for you as an organisation to trial some of these challenges within your team.” And they were like, “wow, this is super helpful. This is exactly what we were looking at.” And it feels like it’s possible for us to do, it doesn’t feel overwhelming or daunting, but it feels like a way for us to get other people involved and understand sort of the buy-in of where people are at in terms of their own understanding of this conversation. So yeah, as we’re saying, it doesn’t necessarily have to be that you own a coworking space, you can just simply work for a company and say, I’ve seen this and I think it’d be really valuable for us to do as an organisation. Because like you said, you’re getting connected to experts in specific fields, whether that’s around disability, neurodiversity, menopause, anti racism, like all of these different key topics, you get to speak to people who know what they’re talking about and have that experience.


Ashley Proctor 32:28

Yeah, it’s a real entry level conversation starter, but then it gives you options to dive deeper. And I think that’s what’s nice about it being customisable. So if that’s the first time your organisation’s thinking on these topics, it’s a great way to start. And if you’re more experienced, or perhaps you’ve been through trainings, and you’re really looking to extend it, it’s a great reminder that these conversations need to be had over and over again, just like managing a community, the work is never really done, you’re always looking at ways that you can improve and things change over time as well. The more we unlearn and learn standard best practices improve. And by collaborating internationally, we’re also accelerating this. I’d suggest there are some places around the world that are having very specific conversations around race, around gender equity. And, when we share those conversations internationally, when we share what we’re learning and how we’re managing, we accelerate, and we can take that knowledge back to our own region, and put things into place. And so we’re always updating our code of conduct, we’re always changing language to be more inclusive, we’re always learning more, and so we’re always doing better. And that’s what I really love about the project, because you just take it as you will. And I know you’re right about it, working for other nonprofit working initiatives, because I run in organisations. And when a challenge comes out, I put on one hat, and I take the challenge off, I put on another hat, I take the challenge. And it really can be applied to a nonprofit organisation to a small volunteer team, to a coworking space to a multi location company. It really just is about the intention and taking the initiative and time to think about it.


Tash Koster-Thomas 33:59

And you highlight something really key there is that it’s not location specific. I think a lot of the conversations are happening, where it’s like, we’re talking about racism in the context of the US, which is very different to the context of the UK, which is very different to the context of Eastern Europe, right. And actually, it’s a conversation, the conversations are happening at a global level, just by way of the people involved in it, but also the audiences that are coming and being part of the conversation around each challenge means that you get to understand it at a much broader scale than you normally would, I think when we have these discussions.


Ashley Proctor 34:33

Yeah, and I also think that the beauty of the project is the collaborative nature of it . We sort of launched the challenge in the formats that we do on YouTube, because it can be captioned in multiple languages in the blog post, because it can easily be translated online. And also because that gives our alliances around the world, something to start with, to work with, to then translate and adapt and share out in their own regions as well. So oftentimes, we’ll see the challenges translated in German and the German Coworking Federation shares them out, and there may be a different discussion in their timezone in their language that makes more sense regionally, or it might be more relevant to an incident or something that just happened locally. Then the global conversation, but there’s opportunities for both and so that’s what also feels really good about the structure of the collaboration between partners in the idea project. 


Tash Koster-Thomas 35:24

I feel lighter from this conversation. I know it doesn’t feel like just having a conversation with somebody who… we understand these challenges, but it’s still holding true and fast to the vision and I’m prepared and ready to be in the trenches and do the work that always feels like I step away lighter after speaking with you, Ashley. Thank you so much for today. The IDEA project is also featured at the end of the handbook as part of our resources. And we also allude to some specific challenges there to support with some of the activities in the handbook itself as like an easy way for you to access certain things. Where can people find you is most important at this stage?


Ashley Proctor 36:03

Yeah, if you’re looking for me, you can find me at or But find the IDEA project at And I want to just say thanks to you to Tash, and congratulations on the handbook. It’s a really incredible resource, and I’m so excited that everyone’s gonna get a chance to get their hands on it as well. And I also, just before we leave, I really want to acknowledge that there is just so much of the work that was done before us. That was done by bipoc leaders, and it was most likely and absolutely done without pay equity or any kind of understanding of all that uncompensated, emotional, and physical labour. And so I really want to just address that, that the work we’re doing today is because of all of those people that came before us, and we’re really hoping to carry that work forward. And I see that and all the work you do as well. So thank you for all you do and for having me here today.


Tash Koster-Thomas 36:56

Thank you so much. So they have everyone be amazing. Ashley proctor. Thank you.


Tash Koster-Thomas 37:05

Thank you so, so much for joining me for today’s episode and a massive thank you to Ashley for joining me as well and also for getting up so early to be on this call. Thank you for sharing your wisdom, knowledge and vision with us all today. Please make sure you check out the notes so you can get connected to the IDEA project and hopefully start some challenges in your place of work and your community. And of course please feel free to connect with me via LinkedIn. Tash Koster-Thomas. Koster spelt K-O-S-T-E-R – Thomas.Until next time, have a wonderful day.        

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