By Julijana Capone
CALGARY — When the owners of the Good Will Social Club received some bad press prior to their opening last fall, they didn’t react, instead they started to listen.
The negative press about offensive drink names—among them a potent beer with the label of Plan B, also the name of the morning-after pill—was apparently a misinterpretation by the venue’s collective of all-male owners, including well-known Winnipeg DJs Tyler Sneesby (a.k.a. DJ Hunnicut) and Tim Hoover (a.k.a. DJ Co-Op).
The names were immediately changed. But the incident served as a catalyst for the owners to widen their scope, and create a safer, more inclusive space for their patrons.
“It just made me think that we need to start looking at things through a different lens,” says Sneesby. “We can’t just think that our good intentions are enough… It’s been a lesson in listening, which I’ve now applied to all aspects of my life–even my marriage.”
With guidance and restorative justice training from Winnipeg sex educator and activist Jodie Layne, the venue developed its House Rules, a safe space policy and zero tolerance approach towards discrimination of any form, including racist, sexist, homophobic, transphobic, fatphobic or ableist comments and bullying at their venue.
It’s a gesture that speaks volumes about the kind of place the venue is working to be, and the kind of inclusive community that the Winnipeg music scene wants to try and build.
“I think people want to know what a place stands for,” says Sneesby. “Since we’ve put the House Rules up on our wall, it’s been an eye-opener to see how many people have said: ‘This is why we’re here.’”
Sneesby says that he’s since had other organizations reach out to him about doing something similar—among them Manitoba Music and the TD Winnipeg International Jazz Festival.
While there’s still work to be done, Sneesby says the Good Will is committed to making the venue a more inclusive space through its everyday programing—be it nights that prominently feature women performers, the LGBT community, or attract any of the diverse groups that live in their West End neighbourhood.
“As it stands now in the community, the ratio of who’s performing is still heterosexual male-heavy,” he says. “Whenever we see opportunities to diversify our programming we jump at it, but it’s tricky when you look at the current landscape. We also have to try harder in that regard, too.”
Visit thegoodwill.ca to view the House Rules in their entirely.Good Will Social Club, inclusive spaces, LGBT, Manitoba, MB, Tim Hoover, Tyler Sneesby