We want you to get to know a little bit more about our powerful speakers, because we (Ribbon Rouge Foundation) see media and storytelling as a way to build an intentional community for social change.
Allow us to introduce you to one of our Speakers on the episode and the first in our series of OtherWise Speaker Bank interviews! :-)
A little bit about Who David Shepherd is:
I’m the MLA for Edmonton-Centre. Previously, I was an active part of the Edmonton music scene as a musician (piano/keys) and studio engineer. I went back to school and got a BA in Professional Communication through Royal Roads University and spent some time volunteering & doing advocacy with the local cycling community.
His thoughts about community:
Community, to me, means a group of people who share something in common – a particular passion, vision, concern or experience – that brings them together to offer mutual support, enjoy activities together and work towards common goals. I find it in a lot of places – with family, with long-time friends, amongst people who share common politics, in my neighborhood and with people I work with. I think community is essential to our health, well-being and growth as human beings. It’s the lynch-pin of all social progress and can be one of the most powerful forces at our disposal in creating change.
His Identity in community and how that came to be:
I often find myself stepping up to help clarify and amplify the voice and vision of the communities I’m in or working with. I love stories and narratives (hence my studies in communication) and find that often the biggest obstacle to getting things done is a lack of clarity and focus. I’m good at drilling down to core objectives & goals, developing processes and strategies to get there and explaining them in a way that brings people on board and inspires them. It started with a love of essay writing in high school & university and I refined it through jobs as a salesperson & Taxpayer Service Agent.
Which communities he influences:
Obviously in my work as an MLA in Edmonton-Centre. I work a lot within our government caucus. I’ve been very outspoken in working to end stigma around substance use and mental health and spoken often about my own struggles with mental health. I’ve been active regarding addressing issues of homelessness, on supportive housing and support for approaches that emphasize harm reduction. I’ve also made it a priority to work with African and Caribbean communities in Edmonton and across Alberta to help them build capacity and get more politically engaged.
How does his public identity compare to his personal identity?
I try to be utterly authentic in all my public work and be genuine and honest about my flaws as well as my strengths. Probably, the biggest difference is I’m much more of an introvert out of the spotlight than I might appear to be in public.
What makes him a leader in his community?
My belief is that leadership is about being willing to do the jobs no one else wants to do – to serve your community in every way you can. I look for the gaps and the needs and start looking to see what I can do to fill them. I believe in collaboration, bringing others along with me, leading by example and helping empower people who haven’t traditionally been given a voice to be heard and develop the ability to advocate for themselves.
What keeps him up at night about communities in Alberta?
How can I inspire more people to step up and get involved? How can I empower people to do the work they want to do?
What his hopes are about communities in Alberta?
That people will begin to develop a different view of politics and advocacy. That they’ll come to recognize that good people can make a difference by getting involved, inspiring others, learning to use the systems and resources that exist to do good things and working to build new and better ones where needed.
What he values?
I think I answered a lot of this above. One thing I’d add, is that I value people who go above and beyond – who take pride in doing their work well and hold themselves to a high personal and ethical standard in both their work and how they treat other people.
You can find MLA David Shepherd on social media:
Listen to the OtherWise Podcast Here.