Everyday Political Citizen shortlist + my focus on community engagement

Late 2013 I was notified that I had been nominated for Samara’s Everyday Political Citizen project, in which Samara sought nominees from every federal riding in the country.

The Everyday Political Citizen project showcases a more human side to politics, and provides role models for those who are considering engaging politically themselves.

I had the best intentions of nominating some amazing people in my life, but, alas, I was in the throes of pneumonia at the time, and well, I didn’t. I still don’t know who my nominator was, but I have a few suspicions. To the anonymator (a new word I just made up), thank you.

Miriam Lapp nominates Trina Isakson
Source: Samara

And today, Samara announced that I have been shortlisted as one of 13 Canadians. Miriam Lapp, Assistant Director, Outreach and Research at Elections Canada, was the juror that selected me, and I am… well, I don’t know how I feel about it. It’s definitely an honour, but I’m generally not one who likes to talk about myself (I’m more likely to talk about my work or the organizations I work with) so being nominated as a individual is kind of cool but also uncomfortable. (But the fact that Rick Mercer has probably read my name, even just in his own inner voice, is pretty exciting.)

Which is why my focus on community engagement is largely about helping and promoting others, and staying out of the spotlight myself (though I am happy to speak publicly about issues and knowledge that are important to me). This is a trend I see pretty clearly as I look back on some of the key jobs and projects I’ve been involved in over time.

When explore what drives me, my purpose is clear.

I challenge the status quos of how people contribute positively to their communities.

I call this a blend of social innovation and community engagement. My consulting work (i.e. how I earn a living) focusses on things like emerging trends in volunteer engagement, ways individuals are using consumerism, investing, and technology to help vulnerable Canadians, explorations of community-university engagement, and critiquing how young people are investing in their communities (and vice versa). My volunteer work involves getting more women engaged in the electoral process through campaigning or advocacy, and helping nonprofit organizations rethink the ways they engage the people that support them. My side passion project at the moment is writing a book on how introverts can and do create social change.

I will admit I’ve thought about a future involving elected politics (i.e. the “spotlight”), but in reality, I know this is not for me. For one thing, I’m quite clearly introverted and I love my quiet days spent at home alone reading, writing, researching, strategizing, and thinking, scattered with the odd phone call, meeting, or event. I see my mark being made through strong (and fairly silent) ripples.

So providing new venues for people to do in the world, that’s me. Congratulations to the other shortlisters!

PS. There is another great opportunity to nominate (women) community leaders with the deadline this Friday.

2014 is a historic year on Prince Edward Island, a year we celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Charlottetown Conference, and the resulting vision that led to the formation of Canada. The Charlottetown Conference was a meeting which enabled 23 men to create a bold vision, form relationships and begin conversations about what our country could be.

We want to know what 23 women will do with that opportunity.