Celeste calls herself a Jack of All Trades, and we would agree! From writing articles for our blog to organizing events and webinars, to leading adjudication of our grants and of course, working in our partner communities, Celeste's diverse skill set shines in her role here at BC Healthy Communities. Read on to learn about the unconventional path that brought her to healthy communities work, and share in the wisdom she's garnered in the last decade of working in community development.
In my teenage years when I started traveling, I knew I wanted to work in an industry that helped to improve our planet. To be honest, I thought my calling was to save the earth! I got a degree in tourism management as I had done a good amount of traveling and had seen the negative impacts that the tourism industry could have on local populations and environments and I felt compelled to work at improving the sector. Working in the non-profit field, I began to see a world where local governments and policy seemed to have the greatest influence on environmental heath, community heath, and many of the areas that I was most passionate about. It was a natural progression to focus on greater community health right here in BC, where I call home.
There are a lot of considerations when doing this work, but one core pillar is to build trust with those you are engaging. I know it's much easier said than done, but focusing on relationships as an outcome, as well as on the quality of those engagements, will generally produce more positive results. Always go into the work without any preconceived expectations or outcomes in mind and allow for things to emerge. Understand that plans change and things often take longer than anticipated; don't get upset when you can't stick to your original timelines. Listen to what is being shared, and don't be afraid to pivot the approach if you find there are better ways to engage with the audience you are hoping to engage with—meet them where they are at. Lastly, if you are genuine in your approach and express openly how you plan to proceed, people will hopefully see that you are authentic. And complete the feedback loop, so that communities know what you did with their responses—even if it was no the outcome anticipated, this will help them to understand why you chose the course of action.
I don't think I have any real superpower. I have always been more of a jack of all trades dabbling in everything and anything I could, both recreationally and professionally. I would say that I have a keen enthusiasm for all things water-related. I have always felt a deep connection to the ocean even though I grew up in Saskatchewan and therefore it wasn't around as part of my upbringing. Maybe that was part of its intrigue. I don't think I could ever live far from it now as I love to be on or in the water, sailing, scuba, kayaking, etc. as much as possible.