Michelle Morton

Creative solutions are needed to tackle the big problems of our times. Because our climate is changing so rapidly we also need to change how our economies and communities function. I want to help make that happen.

Tell us about your role in your community or where you work

I’ve worked in a variety of different roles and am currently thinking about what direction to take next. I am the owner and co-founder of a social enterprise, launched with the help of the first LEAP! program on the Sunshine Coast. Share-There (share-there.com) is a free ride sharing and community event ticket sales platform. We are currently making some major upgrades to better meet the needs of our community. There are many steps we can take to develop the business in the coming year. I’m also politically active. I worked for the BC Legislature as the Constituent Assistant for MLA Nicholas Simons on the lower Sunshine Coast and before that I worked on his 2017 election campaign. I also served as the Alternate Director for Roberts Creek alongside Elected Director Mark Lebbell for 3 years for the Sunshine Coast Regional District (SCRD). This was an enlightening role to be in, especially since I was an SCRD staffer for 9 years before that. It's very different to sit in the Director’s seat, even if only as an Alternate! I’ve been interested in the SFU CED program for several years now but have not yet had the time to purse it. This may be a good time for me to jump in and gain some insight into how I should focus my professional energy. As our climate heats up, bold action is needed immediately and I need to figure out what my role should be now.


Tell us a story about a time you brought people together to improve your community.

I helped bring people together (over three years) to create a community plan for women's economic well being along the Sunshine Coast called "The Progress Plan". I designed and managed the project together with a small staff team, active board members and an advisory committee (of government, business and community leaders). We started by asking local women how satisfied they were with access to food, shelter, transportation, income and more. We brought the results back to the community (via a report card, theatrical performance and workshop) and brainstormed actions that could be taken. We then created "community action teams" to work on issues and test solutions. Several pilot projects were launched. During the final phase of community planning we reached out to women again to find out what (if anything) had changed since the initial research. The final community plan was completed in 2015 and I'm thrilled to say that it has made a difference. The planning process helped to improve our community and several initiatives have continued and grown since then. We now has an active Seniors Planning Table to advocate for change and to serve as a voice for aging women (and their families) on the Sunshine Coast. The Self Employment Womens Network (SEWN) also continued and is now a vibrant and growing network. The Progress Plan had other far-reaching impacts and has been described as "a game-changer in our community."


What challenges in your community or the world are you trying to address?

It's well known that we're rapidly undermining the conditions necessary for human life on this planet. According to international climate scientists, we have about 10 years left to take dramatic action on climate change. Since social inequality and environmental degradation are intrinsically linked I’m seeking the best ways to work on these issues simultaneously. These are the big questions of our times and I want to play a role in making positive changes, both locally and globally, whenever possible. I’m currently working to help enhance social contentedness while also trying to provide transportation options and reduce single vehicle occupancy through our social enterprise. (Share-There). Honestly though I’m not really sure if this is enough? Actually I know it’s not. More dramatic action is needed. Ultimately we need to change how our economies and communities function and I want to help make that happen.

What do you want to learn in this program? How will you use that in your work?

I want to update my skills and get a firmer grounding in the current theories and practices of Community Economic Development. While doing graduate and undergraduate study my focus was always on community development and the environment. It was cutting edge at a time when many thought it wasn’t possible to work for people and the planet at the same time (the jobs vs. environment fallacy). It's a long time though since I completed my degrees. I want to update my theoretical understandings and gain insight into the latest tools and best practices. I'm especially interested in community organizing for systematic change, economic resilience, reconciliation and sustainable economic development. I could also use some personal and professional development too!