Collective Strength, Collective Wisdom

by Patricia Williams


We decided to work as a collective, which we feel is a ... process that acknowledges our collective wisdom and experience. We gather strength from each other, we learn from each other, and we see this as a way all women learn. ("Guest Editorial Collective," inside front cover, WEdf, vol.9 no.4).


This is about why and how four women
formed a collective to guest edit an issue of Women's Education des femmes.

Feminists debate whether or not there is a "woman's way" of behaving in groups. There is persuasive evidence that women are no better able than men to put aside a desire for personal power in order to achieve a collective goal. Many of us have been in groups with women who seem mainly interested in achieving power or getting their way; their behaviour contradicts the view that women are able to work collectively.

On the other hand, many of us have been part of highly successful groups and collectives. One such collective, formed in 1972 with the goal of discovering and writing about the history of women in Canada, is still active. Individual members of the Saskatoon Women's Calendar Collective have come and gone over time, but the collective still creates Herstory: The Canadian Women's Calendar.

We have just published our 20th issue. So much for predictions that Herstory would soon run out of subjects or that a group of women, working as a collective, could not create an annual publication. Past and present collective members speak of the skills and knowledge they acquired, of the friendships they formed, of the strength they .gained. There are other on-going collectives with equally distinguished stories.

Sometimes a collective is created to accomplish a single, one-time job. This article is about why and how four women, who lived in Saskatchewan, who were members of CCLOW and who were interested in various aspects of women's education, decided to form a collective to guest edit a special issue of Women's Education des femmes (WEdf). By describing what we learned and how we functioned, we hope you will become interested in the collective process and use it for other projects.

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