Steps Forward: Persephone Brewing
One of Diversity In Brewing’s key goals is to further conversations about inclusivity in the craft beer industry. We view our role to be facilitators of dialogue and not an authority with the purpose to endorse or approve breweries. It is our hope that the discourse shared in “Steps Forward” pieces is encouraging to industry leaders ready to take their next steps.
“We all have a sphere of influence...there are many problems to address, and we cannot avoid them indefinitely. We cannot continue to be silent. We must begin to speak knowing that words alone are insufficient.” - Beverly Daniel Tatum
In January I noticed the above photos shared on Persephone Brewing's Instagram page and reached out to their team to learn more...
Who are you and what is your role at Persephone Brewing Co?
Brian Smith Co-founder/CEO
On the wall inside PBC, there is a large written land acknowledgement. Why is this important to you?
We see the land acknowledgement as a starting place to a change in how the land, we occupy, farm and share with our community is seen and talked about. Inspired by the 94 recommended calls to action contained in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, land acknowledgements are a necessary first step toward honouring the original occupants of a place. They also help Canadians recognize and respect Indigenous peoples’ inherent connection to the land. This falls right in line with our beliefs that the land needs to be cared for, for future generations as well as this one.
"Persephone Brewing Company acknowledges that it farms, brews and builds community on the unceded territory of the Skwxwú7mesh Úxwumixw (Squamish Nation)."
PBC recently shared a "House Rules" sign. What has the feedback been from your community?
The first house rule is: “Persephone Brewing Co. is an inclusive community where everyone is welcome and safe. Disrespect or discrimination toward any employee, customer or neighbour will result in refusal of service and/or being asked to leave.”
This is us drawing a line in the sand. If you aren’t behaving in a respectful manner, to absolutely EVERYONE, we don’t want your business or presence on our farm. We won't accept any behaviour that doesn't reflect who we are as an inclusive, safe, welcoming, community-centred company. I’m not sure the feedback from our community has been all that dramatic as I think our community and the large majority of our customers have come to expect a high bar from Persephone.
In eight and a half years of business, we’ve never had a single act of violence at our brewery - I’m not sure many pubs or tasting rooms can say that. In part, it’s because we live in a progressive community. However, where there is alcohol there is that risk. We’ve set a tone and managed things carefully. We added that house rule not because we had a problem to solve but rather because we want to remind everyone who comes in that we are all responsible for caring, respectful relationships.
How are staff empowered to enforce these rules?
Frontline staff are hired for their experience and commitment to these values. They are trained and supported in day-to-day operations by our management team. All of our staff are encouraged to lead through example and model our company values in all areas of our business. In turn, we trust and support our staff in making decisions that best support the safety and enjoyment of our community members.
Why does inclusivity matter in craft beer?
Inclusivity matters in all businesses, including craft beer. Craft beer, like many sectors, has been traditionally dominated by well, let’s face it, white dudes. There simply are not enough female, non-cisgendered, differently abled, Indigenous and people of colour involved in our industry. Why it matters includes components of equity and social justice but, just as important is the need for more perspectives, diversity of viewpoints, different lived experience that inclusivity brings. With a rich cross section of our society the craft beer industry will get stronger, brew better and more interesting beer, convert our beer culture into positive impact in community and connect people to both the land that beer comes from as well as the people that make it and drink it.