Changing Systems


You can’t change a problem with the same thinking that created the thinking in the first place.

Albert Einstein

Systems change involves changing the system dynamics that create social problems in the first place. This means getting at the belief systems, routines and power dynamics that are the underlying causes. Living in Community sees that many of the conflicts about sex work have to do with power inequity, poverty, racism, colonization, and stigma. We believe that we need to look at sex work issues in a systemic way so we can make the kind of change that is needed.


Systems change looks like:

  • Really good policies that shine the light on sex worker experiences and uphold their rights to health and safety. The City of Vancouver’s Sex Work Response Guidelines are a good example of municipal policy that promotes a respectful, non-discriminatory and consistent approach among all employees who interact with anyone in the sex industry through the course of their duties.
  • Working with the media to change how sex workers are portrayed in the media.
  • Strong housing strategies that address the unique needs of sex workers.

Policy Change

Living in Community understands that band-aid solutions do not adequately address the big social issues of our times. For example, food banks are important – but they don’t fix poverty. That’s why Living in Community is focused on helping to create policies that shift bigger systems and transform how society thinks about sex work and how we all interact with sex workers.

For example, the City of Vancouver’s Sex Work Response Guidelines provides a balanced approach to safety, health and well-being for sex workers and neighbourhoods where sex work occurs. Through both our advocacy and education, we work with other municipalities, organizations and institutions to develop their own policies that get at the root issues that create inequities for sex workers.

Advocacy and Civic Engagement

One of the key ways that Living in Community changes systems is by engaging in advocacy and civic engagement. We advocate with governments, politicians, and other decision-makers to keep sex work issues on the table, ensure adequate support for sex work support organizations, and educate those in power to understand sex work. We work with the media where there is negative coverage of sex work, and we help the public to better understand the lived reality of people who engage in sex work.

Click on each title below to learn more about our advocacy and civic engagement work: