One of the best things I've done since moving back to Edmonton is make an effort to get involved as much as I can in my city's small but vibrant arts community. Volunteering is a part of my lifestyle, and something I've done in some capacity since I was a teen - from soup kitchens with my church youth group in high school, to door knocking for my political party, and, most predominantly, volunteering at arts institutions and festivals. As I've posted a few times over the past year, I took my volunteering to the next level in late 2014 by joining some committees to gain some more hands-on experience and to have more demanding tasks. One of my major commitments has been joining the Special Events Committee at Latitude 53, one of Canada's oldest and longest running artist-run centres. On the committee, we do everything from organize events such as Parka Patio and The Fine Art of Schmoozy - the two galas at Latitude in the winter, the summer patio series currently happening every Thursday until the end of August, and also help secure sponsorship and assist in fundraising. While actually on site, we supervise volunteers and are in charge of making sure the events go smoothly. Latitude has about a hundred volunteers and only four permanent staff, so the organization relies on and appreciates its volunteers immensely.
And do I ever feel the love! I've gained so much CV enhancing experience over the past year, and met some great friends. Joining the committee was a big commitment and takes up a lot of my time through out the year, but I am enjoying it more than I thought I would. Latitude really is an inviting and exciting community to be a part of. I feel lucky to be surrounded by welcoming and like-minded people. I love that we all come together from such diverse backgrounds and age ranges. Just last Saturday I was out with pals from Latitude with ages ranging from 18-32. At actual events, age ranges from 18-70!
Here are some photos from the last Thursday patio I was "working." ALL photos taken from the Latitude 53 facebook page, and photo credits to Owen Murray.
Ivana, Karen and I.
Shannon, myself and committee member Jordan.
How great is this portrait? I love it!
One of the current exhibitions. The artist created these images all from photographs they found at random.
Sapna, dude with an awesome smile, and Karen.
This man. OH MY GOODNESS. He was from Texas and sure let you know he was proud of it! He's my favourite... He comes to most Latitude events head to toe in western wear!
Moira and Jordan.
Love this one!
Megan and Adam, two of the four lone employees at the gallery.
Ivana eating Jalebi in the kitchen.
Ivana, Derek, and Sarah. Sarah joins Latitude as a summer student employee from Guelph, Ontario where she went to university, via New Jersey. Her parents are Canadian, but she was born and raised in the US. She's now got her PR (permanent residency card) and will be staying north of the border for good!
Karen and Jordan getting engaged.
This year I also did an internship at a major health and wellness non-profit helping with events and sponsorship, coordinated the student gallery at my university, and just started volunteering at another small gallery as an attendant, salesperson, and soon they want to have me write for their blog which is so, so neat! Even if my career goals don't work out in the arts, I know the non-profit sector is one for me, especially after working at multinational corporations for so long. I gel more with the culture and spirit of community building and serving, compared to the hallow pressure of an industry built on increasing sales and being accountable to shareholders. Feeling lucky and blessed I found something I want to do, that I am pursuing fervently, that satisfies me so deeply, and that I know I will be good at. If you have time, get out and volunteer somewhere in your community. Good for your resume and the extra help certainly does go a long way in the non-profit world!
If you're in Edmonton on a Thursday, come down to Latitude for a drink! Our DJs this summer have been on fire.