Tell us about your work in your community
I am passionate about developing opportunities for community members to generate social, economic, environmental and cultural sustainability.
Recently I spearheaded the Fraser Lake Eco Co-Operative Project, a community renewal project in central B.C. and a partnership between local rural and indigenous communities.
As the project’s Coordinators I’ve been actively building networks and collaborative partnerships with various stakeholders who’ve displayed a keen interest in developing a first of its kind community-cultivated cooperative centre of excellence.
The “Eco Co Op”, as a non-profit community service co-op will be an eco-innovative and inclusive community centre/training facility designed to educate and empower.
Tell us a story about a time you brought people together to improve your community.
At eight years old my daughter decided endangered species and the pollution problem needed our attention so she enlisted my help. Together with her school we created the “Mouse Mountaineers Save the Earth Club” and invited students from Kindergarten to grade three to join. Through our combined efforts this tiny school managed to raise $1,200 which was donated to the World Wildlife Fund. Through sponsorship from our local businesses we were also able to supply our community with canvas shopping bags. It was so rewarding to be a part of this initiative knowing that our children had taken the lead and that that they now understand that it takes action to make a difference.
What problems are you trying to solve?
The Eco Co Op aims to address a number of challenges within our rural and indigenous communities. It will proactively respond to our food insecurity issues, our inability to retain youth after graduation, our aging farmer demographic, dwindling wood fiber supply, social, economic and cultural disparity and lack of innovation. Fraser Lake needs new local options and opportunities, goods, services and support systems. The Eco Co Op concept offers and all-inclusive approach to community renewal and sustainability.
What do you need to learn how to do in order to solve those problems?
I need to learn how to access and mobilize resources efficiently and build capacity within my community. I need to know who to turn to and how they might be able to help advance plans. I’d like to learn from others who understand rural and indigenous challenges. I’d like to learn how to better organize, manage and network.
What is the most powerful question you need to ask right now?
The most powerful question I need to ask right now is, “How can we as members within our community create meaningful and impactful change”? How can we address our challenges and meet our needs? Our community wants to know if we have the capacity and resources to organize and manage such a complex venture. We need to know our potential market share, if supply will meet demand, and which educational/training programs and incentives people will be most interested in. We need to know estimated start-up costs, organizations that might help fund the project and what individuals as members can do to help.
If we all worked together, what do you imagine that we could achieve in the next five to ten years?
As collaborative leaders in the pursuit of progress and change we will continue to seek and provide opportunities for empowerment. By combining our unique perspectives and capacities we will become more interconnected and self-reliant. Those who value connection will be inspired to create and motivated to contribute. Together we can design a future where diversity is celebrated and biodiversity is protected, a future where cooperation and creativity are fostered, economic disparity is alleviated and social justice matters. Together we will equip people with the tools they need to create thriving local economies and sustainable communities from the ground up.
Check out Shellie’s initiative, The Fraser Lake Eco-co-operative Project, on Facebook.