In Conversation with Stephanie Shulhan

By: Scott Douglas Jacobsen (GNH Community Journalist/Blogger)

 

Tell us about your brief background – family, education, and work.

I’m from Calgary, Alberta. My family’s small but close. Growing up, I always loved having little family card game nights, dinners, going for walks in Fish Creek Park, and I still love simple dinners and going for walks with my family.

I studied Anthropology and Development Studies (in Calgary), and Integrated Studies in Land and Food Systems (UBC). I love studying and consider myself a life-long learner. Education isn’t just about school, and I learned a lot from the jobs I had while I was in school: I worked at a Drop-In Centre in Calgary and learned about how many of us don’t manage to earn a living even when working as many hours as possible, and then at Immigrant Services, which was eye-opening as I met new Canadian residents, refugees, and Temporary Workers with a huge range of life experience. In Vancouver, I loved learning about bees and pollinators during an Internship at UBC Farm, while I was studying issues of (popular) food culture and how we form our definitions of ‘good’ food.

How did you find out about Gordon Neighbourhood House?

I got connected a bit to other N.H.s during my work with the Think&EatGreen@School Project during my studies at UBC.

What interested you about us?

When I saw Gordon Neighbourhood House was hiring, I thought it looked like a fabulous opportunity. I liked its Food Philosophy, range and scope of projects, and the fact that it was so well connected with so many other organizations and initiatives.

Now, you’re the Community Programmer for Gordon Neighbourhood House. What tasks and responsibilities come with this position?

I see it as being mostly about making connections between people, programs, and resources, to respond to real needs/dreams of our neighbours. I help to connect a lot of great volunteers with opportunities to work on projects they’re interested in, share their skills and talents, and to connect with each other and with other members of the community. I like when volunteers and program participants can learn new things or make connections that help them in their personal and career goals.

Where do you hope Gordon Neighbourhood House moves forward into the future?

I think we’ll keep building on our partnerships to reach more people. I’m excited to see more spaces downtown for Good Food initiatives, and to be involved in animating those spaces and helping to bring awesome people into those spaces so they can do amazing things.

 

Scott Douglas Jacobsen is the Gordon Neighbourhood House Community Journalist/Blogger. He founded In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal and In-Sight Publishing.


In Conversation with Matt Schroeter (Board Chair)

By: Scott Douglas Jacobsen (GNH Community Journalist/Blogger)

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Tell us about your brief background – family, education, and work.

I’m from Washington State in the USA, and I’ve been living in Vancouver for a little over 8 years now. When I was growing up, I always wanted to be some kind of artist—I just wasn’t sure what kind!

I ended up getting interested in graphic design and got an Associate’s Degree from Centralia College in that. I then got really interested in film, and earned a Bachelor of Art’s Degree at the University of Washington in Seattle. I eventually found my skills more aligned with digital design, so I pursued a Master’s Degree up here in Vancouver—at the Centre for Digital Media.

Throughout high school and university, I was working as a photojournalist and doing freelance design work when it came up. Now I’m working at a small agency making apps and websites, mostly for healthcare and technology companies based in the USA. Outside of that, I’m constantly taking photos around the city, working on personal art/design projects, doing freelance design work, and volunteering with GNH.

How did you find out about Gordon Neighbourhood House?

I was brought into GNH by a mutual friend of Paul Taylor’s about 4 years ago. I was so interested in what was going on there, that I asked Paul how I could lend my skills in the best way. They really needed a new website at the time, and that was something I loved doing. I thought it was a great chance to help out the community and start getting involved.

What interested you about us?

So many things! I liked the sheer diversity of the programs and the people they served—from youth to seniors, and every age group in between. The friendliness of the staff and the willingness to open their doors to the people in the community was especially nice to feel.

Now, you’re the Board Chair for the Young Ideas Steering Committee, Young Ideas Communications Committee & Neighbourhood Small Grants Advisory. What tasks and responsibilities come with these positions?

Currently I’m the board chair for the GNH Community Advisory Board. I’m also member of the Young Ideas Communications Committee and GNH Fundraising Committee. Previously, I served on the Neighbourhood Small Grants Committee for 2 years, but this year I decided to give it a break.

Outside of reading and organizing materials for those meetings, I try to make it to as many events related to those groups as I can. For all of those positions, it’s really important to have a sense of what’s going on in the neighborhood. Making a habit of getting involved in the wide range of GNH events has been the perfect way to get that sense. Often I’ll go to the events as a photographer, and while I’m there I meet people from the community.

How did you come upon, and earn, these positions?

For the Community Advisory Board, I served on the board first—and was elected once the previous chair stepped down. For the other committees, I just expressed my interest to Paul once I heard about them. I’m always looking for new ways to help out GNH, and it’s been so fascinating seeing the it change from those different perspectives since I got involved.

Where do you hope Gordon Neighbourhood House moves forward into the future?

First, I hope GNH can continue doing all this things it’s been doing. I think we’re incredibly fortunate to have a space, staff, and volunteers that make all of the current programs possible. Looking further, I hope that GNH can grow the connections it has in the community and in the city. Thinking about all the work GNH has done, especially around food—the potential to implement similar models in other neighborhoods is very encouraging.

 

Scott Douglas Jacobsen is the Gordon Neighbourhood House Community Journalist/Blogger. He founded In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal and In-Sight Publishing.

Photo by David Arias.


In Conversation with Agata Feetham

By: Scott Douglas Jacobsen (GNH Community Journalist/Blogger)

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Tell us about your brief background – family, education, and work.

I am originally from Poland. I moved to Canada when I was 8 years old with my parents and younger brother. We were very fortunate to have a smooth immigration experience and have been living in Vancouver since 1989. I went to UBC and got my Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology and then a Diploma in Guidance Studies (through the Faculty of Education). I have been working for Gordon Neighbourhood House for a total of 15 years and currently I am the Program Director.

How did you find out about Gordon Neighbourhood House? 

During my first year in University, I started volunteering at my local neighbourhood House (South Van NH) and there I came across a job posting for a child care worker at GNH.

What interested you about us? 

As a psychology student, I was very excited to gain experience working with children in a community setting.

Now, you’re the Program Director for Gordon Neighbourhood House. What tasks and responsibilities come with this position? 

As the Program Director, I oversee the majority of programs that are not food initiatives (we have a Director of Community Food Initiatives). This includes program coordination, program evaluation, and overseeing a number of community program staff that run and supervise a wide variety of programs.

How did you come upon, and earn, this position?

I took part-time classes throughout university so that I could work part-time and gain experience. I started working in different positions with children and youth (e.g. Out of School Care, Summer and Spring Break Day Camps, etc.) at Gordon Neighbourhood House in 2001 and 3 months after I graduated from the Diploma program in 2005, I was offered the position of Child, Family, and Youth Program Coordinator. Since then, my position and title have changed a couple of times and I now work with GNH as the Program Director.

Where do you hope Gordon Neighbourhood House moves forward into the future? 

My hope for GNH is that it continues to grow and expand the wonderful work that it already offers. I am extremely proud and honoured to be part of an organization and staff team that truly makes a difference in the lives of our neighbours. GNH is very dear to my heart. I have witnessed hundreds of examples over the last 15 years of how essential GNH is to making the West End a vibrant, healthy, and active community.

 

Scott Douglas Jacobsen is the Gordon Neighbourhood House Community Journalist/Blogger. He founded In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal and In-Sight Publishing.


In Conversation with Chantal Denis

By: Scott Douglas Jacobsen (GNH Community Journalist/Blogger)

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Tell us about your brief background – family, education, and work.

I was born and raised in Ottawa, and lived there until I left to attend Western University in London, Ontario. I started out in biomedical sciences but ended up graduating with a degree in psychology, with the goal of teaching primary French immersion. During the summer of 2012, I had a rather sudden change of heart and realized that I wanted to pursue food. Vegetarian at the time, I found a job at one of Ottawa’s most well known vegetarian restaurants, a pay-by-weight buffet called The Green Door. That was where my cooking career began and where I was first introduced to the kind of large scale cooking I now do daily. I spent 3 years working there, including while I was taking a post-graduate certificate in Event Management. Last summer, I cooked for a tree-planting camp and after that I decided, on a whim, to move to Vancouver in pursuit of a better life as a commuter cyclist. Only a month after my arrival, I was lucky enough to land a job as Vega’s Office Chef, where I prepare a daily vegan lunch for 100 employees at their headquarters in Burnaby. So far, my life on the West Coast has been pretty dreamy!

How did you find out about Gordon Neighbourhood House?

The weekend after I officially moved to Vancouver, I met a friend of a friend on a trip to Salt Spring Island. She lives in the West End and had been involved with GNH. She told me about the Nourish photo series and suggested that I be photographed. That photoshoot led to an in-depth conversation with Matt (the photographer and chair of GNH’s Community Advisory Board) about food philosophy. He introduced me to Paul and the rest is history!

What interested you about us?

I think the first thing that really drew me to GNH is the incredible energy of the space. It’s a hard thing to describe, but I suppose the best way to put it is that Gordon has very, very good vibes. After such a good first impression, what sealed the deal was the fact that Gordon’s food philosophy so closely mirrors my own. Their radical stance on food security really resonated with me and I absolutely love how community-minded all of their food programming is.

Now, you’re the Cooking With Chantal and Veggie Soup-a-Stars Coordinator for Gordon Neighbourhood House. What tasks and responsibilities come with these positions?

Cooking With is a plant-based cooking class that I have the absolute pleasure of teaching once a month. For this class, I am responsible for choosing a theme and then developing/selecting recipes that we will be making. Once all that preparation is done and the ingredients have been acquired, I am responsible for facilitating the 2 hour class with my goal always being to empower people to cook by providing as many new skills and laughs as I can.

Veggie Soup-a-Stars is a weekly community kitchen that is much more low key than the cooking classes. I am responsible for leading a group of amazing volunteers as we prepare a large meal Sunday evenings that will be served for “Meatless Monday” – a pay-what-you-can lunch program that usually attracts around 25 people. I don’t prepare recipes for this group but I do have to plan the menus and gather the ingredients. I am also responsible for weekly reminders to the group and coordinating things if I happen to be away for a weekend. During the community kitchen, I assign tasks and provide tips when applicable. We’ve developed into a really strong team and I am so impressed by how efficient we are and by what a lovely community we’ve created!

How did you come upon, and earn, these positions?

I feel very grateful that these positions were more or less created for me by Paul and Chantille. I expressed interest in getting involved with GNH and wanted to put to use my large-scale cooking experience as well as my passion for making plant-based cooking affordable and accessible. After a few chats with Chantille, they created these programs that were a great fit for me to facilitate as well as very complementary additions to the existing programming at GNH.

Where do you hope Gordon Neighbourhood House moves forward into the future?

I hope that GNH never lets go of its radical food philosophy and keeps pushing the boundaries of the current food system in Vancouver. I believe that food programs are such an integral part of the work done by Gordon and I hope that they continue to evolve in a meaningful and community-minded way. I think that Gordon being involved in the creation of a Community Food Centre would be a huge step towards a better, more just food system in Vancouver.

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Scott Douglas Jacobsen is the Gordon Neighbourhood House Community Journalist/Blogger. He founded In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal and In-Sight Publishing.