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Alumni Profile: Leah Karlberg, Summer 2018

March 15, 2019

What semester/theme did you participate in?
I joined the Summer 2018 Semester in Dialogue cohort, where we explored the future of energy in Canada from a range of perspectives - social, indigenous, political, you name it.

Tell us about one of your projects in the Semester and why it mattered to you? In what way did the project have a positive impact on the community?
We hosted a dialogue at the end of the semester where we invited friends, family, city staff, and experts in various fields to come together. It was remarkable to see how the diversity of backgrounds contributed to an incredibly insightful conversation on how the future of energy impacts us. In the space we created, professionals were able to learn from nonprofessionals and vice versa. I have a hard time imagining many other spaces where a conversation - about a topic that is often very heated and political - could be explored so openly with such a range of input. 

What was one highlight from the semester?
One of many highlights from the semester was to learn practical facilitation skills from our amazing instructors and to have the time and space to practice facilitation, for instance when hosting thought leaders (professionals and experts) in class. Another highlight was definitely hosting thought leader Laura Jane from HUB Cycling, where I ended up working this past year!  

How do you plan to use what you learned in the Semester in Dialogue in your future career?
I loved learning facilitation skills, which have already come in handy both in work and school. After taking the Semester in Dialogue, I am way more aware of how I present myself and how I can help facilitate conversation through my actions and contributions. This skill and others, such as interdisciplinary communication, will continue to help me excel in the future where I hope to enter the field of urban planning, focusing on community health and resilience.  

What are you doing now/planning to do that you want to tell the world about?
Over the last two years, I have helped form Neighbour Lab, an urban planning and design lab focused on co-creating resilience within neighbourhoods, alongside an amazing team of two industrial designers and a fellow geography alumni. Our goal is to work with local government, organizations, and neighbours themselves to build shared community infrastructure that provides critical resources both for day-to-day use and in the case of an emergency, including water, energy, and means for communication. We are thrilled to be in the process of incorporating as a cooperative and installing our first ever Neighbour Hub in Victoria, BC as of this spring! I hope our work can prompt residents across the Lower Mainland to start important conversations about their communities' unique strengths and opportunities to understand what they can do to foster resilience together.  

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Semester in Dialogue 2016 brochure