Leading a Vibrant Community Worklife

Hope Switzer interview

Interview with Hope Switzer

Brandon’s community development professionals work to support residents’ contributions to our city’s vibrancy.

Leadership is also part of the mix — they use imagination and creativity to launch new ventures with the help of like-minded volunteers and organizations.

Among the workers in this sector is Community Development Coordinator, Hope Switzer:

Left quotation mark A big part of my job at Brandon Neighbourhood Renewal Corporation is working with groups looking to access funding for their project through our Community Projects Grant.

Most of the time, the groups have a clear vision of what they want and just need a bit of help to fill out the application form.

People also come to me with an idea for a project and ask about funding options.

I tell them what’s available through our grant, and let them know about other funding agencies that I can also help them apply to.

Sometimes groups want to know where to go for help with their project and I can advise them about that.

Or, I might know of another group that’s working on a similar project, and suggest they contact them.

I don’t decide on the allocation of our funds. I take the applications to our funding committee, and answer any questions the members may have about the projects.

If I’m doing a project of my own, I’ll call on people who I think will be interested in participating. Last spring, I was inspired to start Incredible Edible Brandon after I saw a TED Talk about this popular urban community garden project.

I didn’t have trouble getting other groups interested in taking part. Members of the Environment Committee and the City’s Community Services became involved, and I received sponsorships from businesses.

People really liked the relationship between community development, businesses, and food security.

Overall, it was a success. We had twelve planters at twelve downtown sites. There was a variety of vegetables, fruits, and herbs for people to pick for free. We had a few hiccups but I’ll work on them this year.

We’re working with several organizations on a downtown mural project that is still at a very early stage. I’ll do a lot of the coordination.

It will involve advertising for artists to paint the murals, and talking to business owners to see if they would like to have a mural painted on their building’s wall.

I’ll help the artists connect with the owners, and talk to businesses about sponsorships.

I sit on the committees of several community groups. I believe in committee work. It’s what you do if you want to get things done.

But, I’m not interested in being on committees where people talk forever and don’t accomplish anything.

If I have an idea or someone comes to me with an idea for a community project, I look at what other municipalities have done to see if it would be viable in our community.

Even if that particular project isn’t workable it may relate to another project, so that the time I’ve spent is never really wasted.

A Brandon Environment Committee member brought up the idea of starting a car share coop in Brandon.

I read his proposal and researched car share operations in various cities, including Winnipeg, and Kelowna, which is closer to our city’s size. It’s something we might take on in the fall.

There’s a lot of flexibility in this job, but you can’t just come up with ideas and not follow up. You have to be willing to do the work to make it happen. Right quotation mark

by Brandon Now

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