Author: Karen Copeland
It’s been a busy few weeks around here with our family finally being reunited after many months apart, getting our son back to school [sort of] and a number of commitments that have simply happened mostly all at the same time. It’s been … exhausting but exhilarating.
I finally hosted my first big event Ignite Abbotsford on October 3 at the Phoenix Ballroom. It was as I was preparing for this event that I created my new favorite slide:
You see, I very much believe that we all need to be in the same room sharing our stories with each other. I was reflecting on the barriers that can prevent this from happening – the silos of the systems we dwell in, time and money. I think one of the biggest barriers is sometimes, we simply don’t want to sit in our discomfort. It can be overwhelming to consider doing so, especially if we have not had overly successful or positive interactions as past experiences.
We might crave this feeling of safety by choosing to interact with ‘our own people’; to be comfortable. And don’t get me wrong we NEED this too. These connections can fuel us, recharge us and reassure us that we are on the right path.
But change doesn’t happen when we sit in a place of comfort. Comfort doesn’t challenge us to consider our assumptions and opinions we have about one another. Comfort doesn’t provide us with the opportunity to reflect on our perspectives and expertise. Comfort might not allow us to consider ‘other elements of the story’.
With Ignite Abbotsford, I wanted to create a space where we could sit together in a relatively fun and informal way … to bridge that all important gap between discomfort and comfort. The evening was about connecting with each other, not for the purpose of making decisions or problem solving which is often how we DO come together to connect, but to simply learn more about each other. To have the opportunity to hear ideas and perspectives that we otherwise would not necessarily know about.
To that end, Ignite Abbotsford was all about creating a village. Our Mistress of Ceremonies was a local youth #Champion. The speakers were parents, community business owners, educators, and professionals. The guests attending the event were just as diverse in their roles. It was an evening of storytelling; of learning from, with and about each other. It was powerful.
Feedback from the event was overwhelmingly positive. Before the evening was over I was already being asked when the next Ignite would be (stay tuned!). For me, this speaks to the hunger we have to make a difference; to have impact, to know each others’ stories. To have the opportunity to set aside our titles or roles for just a minute to get to know and believe in each other.
Ignite Abbotsford was all about strengthening our community through the sharing of our stories and ideas. I would like to extend my gratitude to all who attended the event and shared in the evening. Thank you to the speakers who so willingly shared their ideas (check the Ignite Abbotsford page for more information – coming soon!), and to the volunteers who supported me before and during the evening.
Thank you to Trevor Eros and his team from the Phoenix Ballroom for making my first venture into event planning less stressful and for providing the perfect venue for this evening.
Thank you to the Abbotsford Local Action Team (LAT) of the Child and Youth Mental Health and Substance Use (CYMHSU) Collaborative for supporting this event by ensuring speakers and guests had delicious appetizers to munch on throughout the evening.
Until next time…
#BeKind #BeCurious #BeInformed #BeAChampion