Canadian gender equity advocate, social entrepreneur, and writer Char San Pedro is possibly the most aspiring personality we’ve met so far here at L&J! With her non-profit organization “GOOD TO BE GOOD”, Char and her team follow the mission to serve women and marginalized communities. In short: She is an advocate for an equal world. Most importantly, to those around her, she is simply and significantly: A good friend.
Meet Char San Pedro below and check out the photo story shot by photographer Maureen Im.
Aloha! My name is Char San Pedro, and my pronouns are she and her. I was born and raised in Toronto/Tkaronto, covered by Treaty 13, Canada and now live in a multicultural gem of a neighbourhood called Parkdale. Like you, I am many things and, simultaneously, a work — or space for consciousness — in progress. So no day is the same. You can find me organizing, consulting, sharing a meal (and stories) with loved ones, listening, studying, cooking, travelling, volunteering for local organizations, reading various books and articles, creating art, walking the city, questioning, and marvelling at nature.
I think of myself as a friend and eternal optimist. I believe these two identities are often summarized as just saying that I'm human.
I'm also a social entrepreneur, gender equity advocate, and writer, and I serve as the founder and executive director of a grassroots non-profit called GOOD TO BE GOOD. Our work is in advocacy, humanitarian aid and development, and advancing gender equity, in which we employ an intersectional and community-based lens to our approach to realize our vision. We serve our communities through several programs and initiatives that speak to the core of the work and the communities we aim to serve. Our mission is two-fold: we provide empowering support and care services to diverse women, gender-diverse and non-binary folks and their communities experiencing the impacts of marginalization and systemic gendered injustices. And we bring awareness to the underlying causes that continue to devastate and perpetuate these harms. It's essential that we see and understand the bigger picture when addressing conflicts.
Our vision for a gender-equal world is ultimately rooted in the constant work of activating more compassionate and equitable people-powered communities. We are a values-driven collective, which means we approach work with a deep commitment—and being part of our communities and listening to women and gender-diverse folks who have informed much of our work and continue to guide us today.
Women, trans women, Black women, and Indigenous women have always been at the forefront of resistance and the larger struggle, leading to change. Yet they—we—continue to be rendered invisible by structures that conserve conditions of oppression and abuse of power and deny complete transcendence. But the good news is this: increasingly, people realize that our collective progress is intertwined with women's liberation, and we need to act as if there is no way around it.
Most days, I wake up inspired to make things better and a little more beautiful and loving. Most nights, as I rest my head on my pillow, I feel grateful and lucky for trying.
What does power mean to you?
True power is a force within us that which is above us and makes it possible for us to see our light—a light that we contain and a light that we share.
And knowing power is also to experience our darkness. Power gives us the ability to see things for what they are—good, bad and everything in between—and for what they can be, thus granting us the brave admission to live a worthy life.
It's also an exercise that comes in several forms and has multiple outcomes depending upon its use. The conceptions of "power to," "power over,' "power of," and "power with"—all of which have their ramifications. I believe that when power is exercised for good, it can be generative, inviting, active, and cooperative among all individuals within any social context, like an offering.
One of Martin Luther King Jr's guiding instructions explains this well: "Power without love is reckless and abusive, and love without power is sentimental and anemic. Power at its best is love implementing the demands of justice, and justice at its best is power correcting everything that stands against love," which I take as an invitation to explore every possible line of power that comes from within.
The action or decision you're most proud of?
To be proud of one thing means to acknowledge all the other parts of my life that have shaped its coming into sight. I feel proud of many things, and I'll be damned as I don't say, think, or know this enough! Don't we, at some point, all struggle with this question or longing?
I am proud to show up for my life, and I am of being exactly who I am with all that I am, ascending to my own agency. But life doesn't automatically bestow confidence upon anyone just for showing up. I work ceaselessly to become who I am and willingly participate in this world. Like you—or maybe like you—the safest, healthiest, or exceptionally compassionate cards weren't dealt to me, but I'm here.
I've come to trust that deep inside, the best and wisest part of me always rises and says, "I am." And I count this a miracle in itself.
Which woman do you admire the most?
There are many positive things I can say about her as a person, as a woman, a leader, a positivist, a fighter, a community-builder, an educator, and someone's neighbour. I will say this: if you have the opportunity to know her in this lifetime, count yourself one of the lucky ones!
My grandma has made markedly different choices than I have, yet I've witnessed this truth in her, too: that it was not without a certain level of enthusiasm and endeavour that we get to enjoy the freedoms we have today.
She is extraordinary and blesses this world with a lot of love.
What do you love about your L&J pieces?
I respect brands and designers that combine innovation and levity with ethical practices to create beautiful, timeless pieces while empowering the people, the team, and the staff that make it happen. I believe that fashion can and must have a conscience that desires to be ultimately "good" in many ways.
L&J, as a company, has an inner "voice." Like any voice, it can change to reflect the nuances of a given situation. Their voice serves as their compass for the work they do. They care deeply about their people and customers (lucky us!) and have committed to protecting the planet's natural resources by pursuing a goal to become carbon neutral by 2030. The results are invaluable (and necessary) when companies devote themselves to serving beyond making a profit. They should go beyond the status quo and see themselves as part of an intricate system in which everything is connected. I hope that their impacts are sustainable, tangible, and consistent.
I love that my L&J timepiece reflects their values and love for the work through attention to detail, quality design, and fine craftsmanship. Like me, these pieces hold many personalities. Functional yet fun. Classic and versatile. Artistic still steadfast. Youthful, yet full of character.
Wearing this watch allows me to visually say how I feel when wearing it: bold, splendid, and timeless.