Do you know a social innovator or nonprofit leader with conviction?

If they are plodding forward, helping create the change they wish to see in the world through public opinion, education, and policy…they are being political.

Maybe not in the traditional political-party-partisan-campaign-voting sort of way (well, maybe they do that, too!) but they are civically engaged in public work. Perhaps they have veered into other political acts such as protests or petitions or letters to the editor or community organizing.

I want you to consider nominating at least one of these people for the Everyday Political Citizen contest (#EPCitizen) put on by Samara Canada, a non-partisan charity promoting democracy and civic engagement.

Everyday Political Citizen Contest logo

This year I’m proud to sit on the jury of the contest with well-known Canadian personalities such as Rick Mercer, and Shad, the new host of CBC’s q. And some amazing lesser-known folk of all ages and backgrounds working to create the change they wish to see in the world.

What do I need to nominate?

Not much!

  • Your and your nominee’s info: eg name, email, town, Twitter
  • Nominee’s age group (<18, 18-29, >30) and photo
  • 150 words on what makes your nominee a great Everyday Political Citizen

That’s about it! I’m especially interested in some great nominations from BC, so nominate someone or help me promote on social media! Just share this post on Twitter, Facebook, or your other favourite app!

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.


Incomplete Thought #3: Which comes first: next generation voting, or civility in politics?

Next generation voter turnout rates are bad in Canada at all level of elections – student government to federal government.

I think this is for a combination of many reasons. Some logistical: it’s a bit of a pain for university students who live and/or spend the majority of their time NOT in their home riding. Some apathetical: there doesn’t seem to be a direct impact on their lives, and their one vote wouldn’t change anything. Some related to frustration: being so disgusted with the decorum of politics that voting for anyone makes their skin crawl.

Note to politicians

Ads target

Because youth don’t come out to vote like other age groups, the youth vote isn’t targeted (and if it is, it would seem that all the next generation cares about is marijuana and tuition). Sure it might be pandered too, but not properly courted. I used to argue that in order to attract the youth vote, politicians needed to make politics more civil, more engaging. But now, I think I’m with Rick Mercer. Youth need to turnout to vote first. Eventually, the pandering will follow.

It is the conventional wisdom of all political parties that young people will not vote. And the parties, they like it that way.

So please, if you are between the age of 18 and 25, and you want to scare the hell out of the people that run this country, this time around, do the unexpected. Take 20 minutes out of your day and do what young people all over the world are dying to do. Vote.

So which should come first? Young voters turning out? Or civil, engaging, relevant politics? Who owes what to whom?


The Incomplete Thought Series is, well, a series of incomplete thoughts. These are thoughts I have not researched, but which have popped into my head and am interested in discussing. Your incomplete or complete thoughts are encouraged.