Our Voices: Youth Building a Connected City

Cities, Community Building, Summit Alone Together Connecting in the City, 2012

If you could create a city where people felt connected and not isolated, supported and not alone, how would you do it?

Designed for youth, by youth, the Our Voices: Youth Building a Connected City conference explored issues related to isolation and disconnection in Metro Vancouver, and offered you the chance to help come up with solutions.

Youth between the ages 15 and 26 were invited to take part in this exciting, interactive day-long event! Conference participants shared their stories, discussed strategies for change, and helped craft recommendations for Metro Vancouver’s decision makers to build a more connected city.

Wed, 19 Sep 2012

9:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. (PT)

The Roundhouse Community Arts & Recreation Centre
181 Roundhouse Mews, Vancouver

About Alone Together: Connecting in the City

In this inaugural SFU Public Square Community Summit, we explored the issue of civic disconnection and discussed ways of strengthening engagement across community and cultural divides. Over six event packed days, we heard from citizens, artists, librarians, businesses, film makers, and mayors in our region, we learned how youth would create a more connected city, and we celebrated the extra-ordinary people who surround us and work to make our lives better, bringing neighbourhoods and communities together.

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Advisory Committee

Wendy Norman

An original Vancouverite, Wendy Norman runs leadership programming through Student Services at Simon Fraser University. She has over 10 years experience teaching, advising and developing engagement programming in the post-secondary environment. Wendy considers it a great privilege to provide opportunities for students to critically explore leadership and civic engagement and tell, write and re-write their stories. Her time is otherwise spent playing squash, baking and occasionally performing as a singer song-writer in the local folk scene.

Sally Lin

Sally is about to enter grade 10 at Lord Byng Secondary for Byng Arts Visual Arts and Literary Arts in September. She was the Social Events Coordinator at the Vancouver District's Students' Council 2011-2012. Sally has had lots of experience volunteering in her community, including as a peer educator and peer facilitator for a Prevention Fair, and helping to plan events such as Vancity Idol with the VDSC. She is learning music theory and Latin dances as extracurricular activities (and volunteers at he dance studio as a demonstration partner), and is passionate about photography and fencing. She has enjoyed working with her fellow advisory committee members, and hopes the conference motivates other youths to do some connecting in their own community. 

Aateka Shashank

Aateka is a third year student at SFU studying international environmental development. Her love for Vancouver spawned from her work where she researches Vancouver’s history of becoming a green city. Her search for a socially sustainable Vancouver led her to join the Advisory Committee for the Alone Together conference. Eight years ago she came to Canada with the dreams and hopes of a young teenager. The city she saw and the people she met changed her perspective of first world countries. She not only saw the way people connected over different aspects of life here, but she also saw the disconnect between people in their daily lives. She is extremely interested in what connects people socially and spiritually. What could my neighbour possibly be comfortable saying to me if I took some cake over? Is cake even a good idea? These are the thoughts that she is sure go through the heads of so many people just looking to make friends. She is extremely excited to learn, appreciate our diversity of connection and share experiences living in Vancouver at this youth conference

Britany Wong

Britany is a student at Eric Hamber Secondary School. Her favourite colour is green, specifically pistachio green. Music is her passion and, currently, she is learning how to become a piano teacher. She knows how to speak fluent Cantonese since her parents were born in China. However, she was born in Vancouver and absolutely loves this city. She finds that the majority of people in this city are incredibly nice and she has had many experiences that make her love Vancouver even more. She joined the conference advisory committee to help create an even better Vancouver with others who want to build a more connected city together.

Kirk Wong

Kirk is a student at Eric Hamber Secondary School. In addition to English, he can also speak Cantonese fluently. He enjoys playing video games, skiing, badminton, and playing piano. He teaches piano as a part time job. Kirk has had a great experience working with the advisory committee to help plan this conference.

Eric Brown

Eric Brown cut his teeth in youth-led development during his last year of high school as Chair of the Campbell River Youth Advisory Committee. He has always had a keen interest in politics, sustainability and working with youth. Eric studied Sustainable International Development at the Institute of Interdisciplinary Studies at Carleton University, receiving his Honours BA in 2007. For completion of this degree, Eric wrote his undergraduate thesis in collaboration with Oxfam Canada on the sustainability of agricultural change in the Benishangul-Gumuz Region of Ethiopia. During his degree he also spent a year living in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania where he interned with Industry Canada on the Sustainable Cities Initiative and attended classes at the University of Dar es Salaam. Prior to Sustainable Cities, Eric worked with Big Brothers of Greater Vancouver where he focused on including a youth perspective in program development. Eric is currently completing his Masters in Urban Studies at Simon Fraser University where he intends to focus his research on the inclusion of a youth perspective in municipal decision making and the ways urban space can be made more inclusive of young people. Eric is also a member of the Canadian Commission for UNESCO Youth Advisory Group. 

Jennifer Liu

Jennifer Liu, a freshman at UBC’s Sauder School of Business, is passionate about youth engagement particularly in environmental justice and gender equality. She shares her love for social activism with her peers around the Lower Mainland by facilitating workshops in schools and various events with Check Your Head. At any given moment, she can be found volunteering with non-profit organizations, sitting at the library with 15 books by her side or watching re-runs of Gilmore Girls. Helping to plan the “Our Voice” conference has been nothing less than exciting, giving her an opportunity to explore what it means to be connected in a city, and she hopes that this will be a positive and enriching experience for all!

Vince Terstappen

Vince Terstappen is currently the Project & Operations Coordinator with Check Your Head: The Youth Global Education Network. In that position, he feels extremely privileged to be able to engage young people in discussions and actions on a wide variety of social and environmental justice topics. Before arriving in Vancouver a little over one year ago, he lived in Victoria, Saskatoon, and Calgary and worked in a variety of popular education, youth engagement, and research positions. He has a background in community health and, through that training, has come to see social isolation and disconnection as significant contributors to inequality and poor health. Vince firmly believes that building a more connected community is vital in order to create a healthier, more vibrant, and sustainable planet and he is excited to have the opportunity to contribute to that as a member of the Alone Together Advisory Committee.

Elinor McNamee-Anne

Elinor is a third year student at Simon Fraser University's school for International Studies, and is also pursuing a minor in legal studies. One of Elinor's biggest passions is community development, which she had the opportunity to pursue this past summer with an internship in East Van as a Community Garden Facilitator. Elinor has volunteered on multiple boards and with many organizations such as the District Youth Advisory Council, the Red Cross, and World Vision. She has also taken on multiple charitable projects in her own time such as a series of soup kitchen dinners in Whalley and clothing drives for Covenant House. One of her biggest passions is to travel, which she will have the opportunity to do with field school to Southeast Asia next Spring. Elinor is really looking forward to being inspired by her fellow youth on the topic of disengagement in Vancouver, and has greatly enjoyed planning this conference with the rest of the advisory committee!

Hawa Mire

Hawa Mire is involved with a number of youth social justice organizations on a local, national and international scale. Hawa was recognized as an outstanding youth leader at the City of Vancouver’s fourth annual Youth Awards. She is a member of Vancouver Foundation’s Youth Philanthropy Council and previously, Youth Vital Signs Leadership Council. 

Tahia Ahmed

Tahia has always been involved in social and environmental activism and has made it an addition to her list of daily nutritional servings. Tahia passionately believes that everyone has the ability to be an agent for change by actively engaging our skills and knowledge. To express this to the world, Tahia began a youth engagement initiative called ArtQuake where every youth is empowered to pursue their artistic passions and are enabled to apply them to creating social and environmental change. As a young person, Tahia identifies with the diverse skills and capabilities that youth possess. She also recognizes that often, the world around us fails to acknowledge our capacity to be creative, innovative, and bold in our approach to making the world a better place.

Reports and Resources

Alone Together: Connecting in the City Events

  • Alone Together: A Mini Film Festival

    Cities, Community Building, Summit Alone Together Connecting in the City, 2012, Arts + Culture

    Films from across the globe, exploring the issue of isolation in the urban environment, was screened at the Westminster Savings Credit Union SFU Surrey Theater for the Alone Together Film Festival.

    Read More →

  • Rain City Chronicles – Extra Ordinary

    Arts + Culture, Cities, Community Building, 2012, Summit Alone Together Connecting in the City

    An evening of storytelling and music, this event featured extra–ordinary community folks sharing personal reflections on how they have brought their neighborhoods and communities together.

    Read More →

  • Urban Conspiracy Cabaret

    Arts + Culture, Cities, Community Building, 2012, Summit Alone Together Connecting in the City

    CBC Debaters Charlie Demers and Richard Side hosted a unique and eclectic night of comedy, music, arts and poetry.

    Read More →

  • Lonely in Vancouver | City Conversations

    Cities, Community Building, Summit Alone Together Connecting in the City, 2012, Series City Conversations

    As part of the SFU Public Square Community Summit, City Conversations will feature a dialogue on the Vancouver Foundation report on isolation in the region, featuring the foundation’s Catherine Clement, Vice President, Public Engagement and Communications, and Daphne Bramham, award-winning columnist for the Vancouver Sun.

    Read More →

  • Creating A Connected City: The Role of Business in Addressing Urban Isolation

    Cities, Community Building, Summit Alone Together Connecting in the City, 2012, Economy, Future of Work

    Metro Vancouver's business leaders discussed the role that the business community plays in building urban connections.

    Read More →

  • Big Ideas for Libraries in Communities

    Cities, Community Building, Summit Alone Together Connecting in the City, 2012, Arts + Culture

    Community spirit thrived at libraries – virtual, cooperative, academic and public! We heard the top ten ideas submitted by community members, on how libraries can contribute to building stronger and more meaningful connections.

    Read More →

  • Our Voices: Youth Building a Connected City

    Cities, Community Building, Summit Alone Together Connecting in the City, 2012

    Designed for youth, by youth, explored issues related to isolation and disconnection while helping develop solutions at this interactive daylong conference.

    Read More →

  • Opening Night at the Orpheum!

    Cities, Community Building, Summit Alone Together Connecting in the City, 2012

    Where it all began! Featured some of Canada's innovative minds discussing how we can create more connected communities. With special appearances by Bend Sinister and Shane Koyczan.

    Read More →

  • Alone Together: Connecting a City with One Voice

    2012, Summit Alone Together Connecting in the City, Cities, Arts + Culture, Community Building

    The SFU Public Square ONE VOICE Music Project is an exciting initiative that harnesses the power of music, media, performance and collaboration to bridge across differences and inspire meaningful connections between (and an appreciation for) our diverse community members.

    Read More →

  • Open Space

    Cities, Community Building, Summit Alone Together Connecting in the City, 2012

    A public square is not only a place for SFU to engage with the community, it is also a space where individuals and community groups may self-organize. We were excited to offer free open space at our three SFU campuses as part of the Alone Together Community Summit.

    Read More →