Meet the Spur Calgary Public Fellow

I am thrilled to be Spur Calgary’s Public Fellow. Last year, I attended the national festival of politics, arts and ideas, in Ottawa where I shared my progressive Albertan perspective. It was a truly engaging experience. I am thrilled to part of this year’s Spur in my home town.

This year’s festival is timely with the provincial election on May 5, 2015 and Spur is sure to be buzzing with ideas and engagement.

What you can expect?

  • Stimulating talks lead by experts, public figures, and artists on issues facing our society from a multi-partisan lens. Topics include: poverty, global pandemics, income inequality, austerity and much more.
  • Opportunities to share your ideas during robust Question and Answer Periods. I, along with RBC’s Emerging Scholars, some of Calgary’s best and brightest, will be there to stir the pot.
  • Meet engaged Calgarians, and speak with presenters one-on-one. The thought-provoking sessions will spark interesting conversations with other festival goers and lead to discussions beyond the festival.

As Spur Calgary’s Public Fellow, I have the opportunity to capture the pulse of our discussions and work with other Spur Public Fellows from across Canada to record our ‘national conversation’. Together, we will identify similarities and differences in regional priorities, identify national themes and identify ways to turn our ideas into actions.

I eagerly anticipate hearing from leading thinkers such as Robert Oxoby, Eldar Shafir, and Mark Lowell at their Saturday session: The Scarcity Trap. I am eager to learn how this paradigm manifests and how we can encourage more forward-thinking thought and policy decisions.

These are interesting times for Alberta. This year, our first minority government is predicted and the Progressive Conservative party which has held power for 43 years is in decline. What does this mean for Calgary, for Alberta, for Canada? At the closing session: The Future of Alberta Politics Danielle Smith, former leader of the Wildrose Party, will make her first public appearance following a political deal that went sour. What will Smith say about her experience in politics? Will she be back?

With the outbreak of Ebola which caught the international community off-guard, Infectious Diseases and Public Health will be notable. Dr Natasha Crowcroft, Dr Ubaka Ogbogu, and Moderator, Judy Aldous, make the case for global concerted action.

The unique on-line play, Rihannaboi95, by Jordan Tahhahi, will provoke thought on bullying and queer identity. The impact of bullying in its various forms is an issue we are only beginning to address meaningfully as a society.

Mental illness is costing us billions of dollars in social and economic terms. How do everyday living conditions impact this and how can we alter? To be part of this conversation, come to Keeping Neighbours in Mind: Calgary’s Mental Health.

I look forward to engaging with this year’s theme, Alone, Together. The digital world we live in is having both positive and negative social impacts. The trend is characterized by greater connectivity with more people yet weaker social connections resulting in isolation at the community-level.

I believe the festival will show us that this theme links to each issue and is made worse by the move to neoliberalism in the Western World which has led to inaction on key policy issues of our time including; climate change, gender inequality, and child poverty. In spite of this, I believe that there is a appetite for connection, and collective action. We need leadership, engagement, and smart policy changes at the local level. Technology is tremendous tool of a mobilization, we just have to harness it properly; engagement at Spur is part of the solution.

I believe the experience of Calgary is unique in the Canadian landscape. The impact of the 2013 flood brought the community together in crisis. We renewed our sense of community and sense of a common purpose. As a result, I believe Calgary will see more progressive policy change and community building efforts in the years to come.
There are so many great sessions this weekend. Join me and contribute to the national conversation!

Stephanie is a blogger on Alberta politics with a progressive perspective. This year, she returned home to Calgary after working as a Labour Policy Analyst for two years with the federal government in Gatineau, Quebec, and finishing a bilingual Master’s degree in Public and International Affairs at Glendon College, York University. Here, she gained a theoretical and practical knowledge of trends impacting Canadian public policy, such as rising income inequality and austerity. Most recently, Stephanie acted as volunteer coordinator for Julie Hrdlicka’s successful campaign for Calgary School Board Trustee.

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