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I am excited to develop a network of individuals who are passionate about CED. I have always believed that the most creative and innovative projects result from working in a collaborative environment, which fosters participation and engagement from all individuals.
Tell us about your work in your community
I have been working in the film and television industry for the past four years. Primarily, I have worked on the corporate side of the industry reviewing contracts, coordinating shoots and communicating with external stakeholders. However, I realized that the work I was doing was not fulfilling me or making a positive contribution to society nor was I creating a better community, which are all things that I value and want in my professional career. In June of this year, I decided to quit my job in film and I spent the summer learning about different industries and careers. During this time I realized that what I am most passionate about is working to make the communities I live in a better place. Through social innovation, social enterprises and community development. I have spent the summer volunteering with the Executive Director of the BC Association of Farmers's Markets creating a survey which will be used to determine how the association can better support its members. I have also recently joined the HiVE a social impact co-working space in Vancouver, with the hopes of collaborating and learning from other members.
Tell us a story about a time you brought people together to improve your community.
Prior to starting my final year at university, I watched the documentary "Miss Representation" which explores "how the media and culture contribute to the under-representation of women in positions of power and influence." The documentary highlights the significant impact the media has on how society values women. The documentary ends with a call to action, for women leaders to take an active mentoring role and to create opportunities for conversation with younger females who want and need to see positive female role models who are not like the women the media portrays.
The film had a large impact on my life. When I returned for my senior year I knew I wanted to create some form of event within the Business faculty to highlight female leaders in business and to hear first hand how these women have dealt with societies norms and expectations as they progressed through their career. I used my position as an executive member of the Women in Business Society to create and organize the first annual "Conversation with Successful Business Women" event. I reached out to four women who were in different careers and life stages and invited them to come and share their triumphs and challenges in an intimate and honest environment. Getting students to come to events on a weeknight is not easy at university, especially when the topic is based on gender. However, we were successful in filling the event with students of all years, across all faculties, including a few male students who were interested in learning about the difficulties that women face and how they can support their female peers. The reaction we received from the Business faculty was incredible! They were all very impressed with the turnout, and how the evening came together. The feedback from senior students in the room was that they had wished this type of event had existed before because the lessons they learned, and the advice they received that evening was incredibly valuable and they wished they had heard it early on.
What problems are you trying to solve?
In today's society it can be easy to look around and see a myriad of problems and social inequalities that need to be addressed. For me, there are two problems that keep me up at night, the first being social isolation/loneliness. Social isolation/loneliness has become an epidemic that targets individuals from all walks of life and increases the likelihood of developing mental health disorders and impacts an individuals physical health. The other problem that I am constantly thinking about is how to take economically depressed small towns and create vibrant and sustainable communities that not only attract individuals of all ages but also allow people to work in their chosen career field outside of the city.
What do you need to learn how to do in order to solve those problems?
I am able to see and acknowledge that there is a problem and coming from a creative background, I often find it easy to visualize what the ideal outcome or solution to the problem would be. However, the area that I struggle in and need to learn the most in, is how to create the bridge from problem to solution. I know the first step is creating an environment/space where individuals feel secure in engaging in conversation and sharing their stories in order to gather information. But once you have this information what steps do you take? What metrics should be used along the way to track progress and help determine if you are on the right course or if you need to make adjustments in order to achieve the desired outcome? I believe this is of high priority because as you progress towards a solution other factors may be uncovered and challenges are often complex and change along the way and you must be able to quickly adapt. The biggest learning opportunity that I look forward to, is understanding how you get individuals engaged in working towards a solution and not just seeing the problem especially when it may be a problem that they do not feel affects them. To me learning how to engage the outliers or naysayers is vital because answering societal problems requires a holistic approach and needs these individuals to support the solution.
What are the most powerful questions you need to ask right now?
The most powerful question that I need to ask myself right now is what can I do today to make a positive and sustainable contribution in the lives of individuals around me? Often times I find myself seeing the big picture, knowing what I want but not how to get there, or getting frustrated with the process and time it takes to arrive at a solution. I find that the way this question is framed helps to reinforce the fact that solutions and results take time. There are no quick fixes, and to go from problem to solution requires taking several steps that cumulatively create a solution. When you include sustainability in the question it helps to reinforce the fact that ultimately the solution to the problem cannot be a quick fix that you impose on the community but rather the community/individual needs to be able to take ownership in order to achieve long lasting results and to do that they need to be consulted at an early stage to ensure that the plans are something they can manage.
If we all worked together, what do you imagine that we could achieve in the next five to ten years?
I am excited to develop a network of individuals who are passionate about CED. I have always believed that the most creative and innovative projects result from working in a collaborative environment, which fosters participation and engagement from all individuals. Furthermore, taking a collaborative approach to work means we can go from a good project to a great one.
By working together, I believe there are endless possibilities of what we can achieve in the next five to ten years, but what I hope we achieve is the following:
- Build communities that are inclusive, diverse and innovative.
- Use diversity to create and sustain thriving communities.
- Increase awareness in CED among lay people.
- Ensure that the voices of individuals who are marginalized, and under represented are involved in the early stages of planning.
- Remove labels and stigmas that have been attached to individuals by society in order to see every individual as an equal human being.
- Foster robust, resilient and sustainable economies which support the quality of life of its residents.
- Create awareness and strong support for social enterprises and innovations that are accessible to all individuals.