Tell us about your work in your community.
I have been active in the Strathcona community for over 15 years, both as marketing and promotions lead at Carscadden Stokes McDonald Architects, and through various volunteer positions. I am current President and Chair of the Strathcona Business Improvement Association board of directors and Secretary of the Strathcona Community Centre Association board.
Tell us about a time you brought people together to improve your community.
The Strathcona Community Centre Association must fundraise over $1 million annually and operates constantly at the razor’s edge. During negotiations with the Park Board for a new Joint Operating Agreement, we realized we could no longer accept our unsustainable funding model. We took our message to the commissioners, organizing the community to speak at special Park Board meetings. Strathcona became the strongest voice in the room, and through this, we influenced the Park Board to pass a motion in support of finding a sustainable funding model, which will have a lasting, positive impact on the community.
What problems are you trying to solve?
I’m most interested in trying to solve not the “problem”, but the puzzle of how to foster a holistic community that offers opportunities and services for each and every person who lives, works, visits, and is a part of the community.
What do you want to learn in order in order to tackle these problems?
To solve this puzzle, I want to learn how to build not just bridges, but lasting connections between the often disparate groups that make up a community like Strathcona. I also want to learn what other communities and organizations are doing to make an impact in their communities, no matter the economic makeup and challenges they face.
What is the most powerful question you need to ask right now?
Strathcona is a changing neighbourhood, and I often hear people asking who is responsible for the change and how can it be stopped. While these may be important questions to some, they are not my primary motivators. Instead, I want to explore questions like:
Why is this change happening now?
What role have we all played in bringing about change?
And the most powerful, most critical questions for me are:
How can we effectively, meaningfully, proactively, respond to the change?
How can we not simply adapt, but be agents of the change we want to see?
How can we maintain the connections and character of the past while looking to the future?
If we all worked together, what do you imagine that we could achieve in the next five to ten years?
I have incredible confidence in the ability of organizations of dedicated people to have an impact on their neighbourhood. Even in the face of seemingly insurmountable and systemic obstacles, bodies like the SBIA and SCCA are able to focus intention and energy, tackle issues, and create change at all scales. Together, we have a greater impact than we ever could individually. Now imagine what more we can achieve when these organizations come together to collaborate, share wisdom, build capacity, and advance common goals.
If we work together, in 5-10 years, I see a balanced Strathcona, where: the streets are walkable; people and goods move comfortably and efficiently; businesses are open and accessible; services exist for people of all needs and income levels; city infrastructure is maintained and enhanced; and investments are made in parks and recreation. I see a Strathcona that is leading by example, becoming part of a network of communities that share the common vision of a Vancouver for everyone.
Connect with Emma on LinkedIn.