Leadership Calgary: An Insider’s Story

What is it like to participate in the Leadership Calgary program? In this post, Mariette Sluyter , a Leadership Calgary alumna from the class of 2008, shares her experiences and the impact of participating in the program on her work in the community.

 Name: Mariette Sluyter

Program Year: 2008

Current Occupation: Artist & Community Developer: The Foundation Lab/Seniors Action Group

 How would you describe LC to someone who has not yet participated?

Liberating, hard, important and the best, most exciting journey of discovery you could ever go on and it just keeps getting better. It is the gift that keeps on giving.

What is the greatest change in your life (professional and/or personal) since completing the program?

Among other things LC has helped me shape my understanding of human & societal learning so that I can better assess the kinds of projects I engage in and how I plan my programming. I am more focused on building cultural assets, ensuring the work is documented in order to be built upon.

 When you hear the term ‘community leadership’ what are the first 3 words that come to mind?

Not words but phrases: Capacity Building, Trans Generational Learning, Responsibility

 What are your volunteer engagements in the community?

The line between volunteer and paid employment became quite blurry for me after Leadership Calgary. The work that needs doing on the planet simply needs doing whether it is paid or not.

So that is how I gauge my engagements.

My skill set is in group facilitation, theatre and performance, so my volunteer experiences tend to be limited term skills transfer & capacity building for organizations and groups trying to extend abilities. I have supported organizations such as Mount Royal University’s Sustainability Club & David Swann’s Leadership Campaign.   

That being said, I have two ongoing relationships that are highly valuable to me as I see the need in long term support and capacity building through them; Seniors A GOGO & Leadership Calgary Program Committee. Through my volunteering with the Leadership Calgary Program Committee I am able to work with leaders who are focused on expanding their strengths, caring and responsibility to a trans generational process that plants seeds into the future.

What is something you have accomplished in the past year that you’re really proud of?

A group I have been working with for over 5 years, The Seniors Action Group, has recently developed into it’s own society. Their work engages the community in conversation about human issues through theatre and digital story. They are currently involved in a capacity building process called The Wise Journey, an exploration of Eldering. In five years I see their voices getting stronger, their vision expanding and their caring extended. It is an honor to stand along side that.

The pilot of Food For Thought: The Bread Project with Calgary Family Services is also a highlight. This is a project that brings otherwise isolated older adults from diverse communities together to share bread recipes in order to bake and break bread together. Through the stories of the grain that conquered much of the Northern Hemisphere we start to understand our complex relationship with food, food production, resource allocation and the potential futures. This pilot has sparked an underground bread revolution and these baking grannies have been  sharing their stories, recipes with younger generations in hopes to inspire the same connections and caring they made through this process. As well we are capturing the spirit of the project with an NFB digital documentary set to be launched in Summer 2012 called Bread.  

 Is there a particular quote that continues to inspire you?

One thing the program, and Ken Low, does so well is reminds us that we are special and beautiful snowflakes just like all the other special and beautiful snowflakes. Although for some, this may be a disappointment, for me, this was liberating. I could then begin getting the work done. The quote below comes from Albert Einstein & is my reminder of this.

“A hundred times a day I remind myself that my inner and outer life depend on the labors of other people, living and dead, and that I must exert myself in order to give in the full measure I have received and am still receiving.”

 What is your favorite memory of the LC program?

It seems pretty hard to come up with one from my program year as every moment seems to build upon itself exponentially. I can say that my learning group experience was one of the richest group learning experiences I have ever had. Because of the guiding, the dynamics of the team and the challenging opinions of the group, I was very much able to explore the curriculum material and was pushed to think outside of my existing frameworks.

Are you looking for a learning experience like this? Apply for Leadership Calgary before May 17. Join us at our April 15 workshop to find out what it takes to be a wise community leader and how Leadership Calgary can equip you to take up the challenge. Call 403-265-5633 or email registration@volunteercalgary.ab.ca to register.


About Propellus

Propellus is a non-profit organization that has been empowering organizations since 1955. Through a dynamic range of consulting, training and member services, it helps organizations envision and realize new paths, practices and possibilities. Propellus guides, mentors and educates clients, arming them with tools and resources to help boost organizational effectiveness. Propellus strengthens organizations; in doing so, it leads the way toward building thriving communities.
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