Alumni: Next Up Calgary 2010-2011

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Annie Phillips

Annie’s formative years were spent with her family on a small farm in Nova Scotia, raised on home-grown produce, honey, blueberries, maple syrup, good books and with great neighbours. With the help of her father she built a semi-subterranean octagonal cabin, loosely based on the winter houses of the Salish people of interior British Columbia. Her initial urge to turn her back on the world and live the life of a hermit in her cabin changed, ironically, after her rich experience of life as a monastic at a Buddhist abbey in northern Cape Breton. This experience, of living in a supportive, respectful community of committed and like-minded people, lead her to seek out an intentional (or cohousing) community in Calgary (Prairie Sky Cohousing, where she was honoured to live for the past 4 and a half years. Her volunteer efforts both at home and abroad with Habitat for Humanity in Honduras, the Calgary Women’s Resource Centre, The Mustard Seed, and Calgary Harvest have strengthened her belief in the power of community to create positive change in the world, and her desire to be part of that change. This one-time hermit loves to travel and learn about new places and perspectives, loves to stay home and support local food, music and community, cook for crowds, garden, hike, and make things with her own hands. Currently Annie works as a piano technician privately as well as for a local keyboard instrument museum, Cantos Music Foundation, teaches adapted piano lessons to students with special needs at a music therapy clinic, and provides musical accompaniment for the local Unitarian Church.


Chelsea Pratchett

Chelsea woke up one morning and realized no amount of money; fancy clothes or large house in the suburbs was going to make her happy.  She began to question conventional norms like speciesism, consumerism, and birthdays.  When she realized she was living in one of the most capitalistic cities in Canada, she promptly backed her bags and headed for greener pastures.

Just kidding.  She stuck around to help contribute to a city that she hopes will one day accurately reflect the values and beliefs of its inhabitants. Chelsea can often be found asleep during city council sessions or pontificating about food justice to anyone who will listen.


Erin McFarlane

Erin has mixed feelings toward her hometown of Calgary. On the one hand, she is deeply troubled and frustrated by its decidedly corporate culture and close relationship with the Tar Sands; on the other, she is energized and excited by the growing momentum towards an alternate path for Calgary, epitomized by burgeoning urban agriculture, Civic Camp, the Bow River Flow, and the election of a new mayor. A self-described on-again/off-again MSW student, Erin hopes to further contribute to the emerging field of “eco-social work” upon her eventual return to school. She firmly believes that environmental and social justice are forever intertwined and is thrilled to be working at the Arusha Centre, where she can put this view into action. Erin feels that social change work can take so many varied forms, each with its own value. However, she also feels that that the importance of including fun in the process is too often under-appreciated. Erin is entirely passionate about community and about our role as stewards of this earth. The Rocky Mountains and digging in a garden are the only things that genuinely relax her. Erin feels very lucky to be part of this first Next Up group in Calgary!


Kathleen Worton

Kathleen is a born and raised Calgarian who has watched her city change and grow over the past few decades. Armed with a degree in psychology from the University of Calgary, she has been active in community efforts to reduce stigma surrounding mental illness and promote strategies for healthy living. As a researcher with a local non-profit organization, Kathleen works to promote inclusion and enhance community supports for individuals with developmental disabilities. As a result of working and being actively involved in her own community, her future goals are focused on supporting communities to be inclusive, vibrant, and sustainable. She is particularly interested in exploring how community organizations can work together to develop strategies and solutions that address complex social issues. Kathleen enjoys spending her downtime out and about in the city and loves walking by the river and reading in cozy coffee shops. With a performance background in music and drama, she tries to take advantage of the art scene in Calgary by attending events showcasing local music, dance, and theatre.

Katie Rasmussen

Bio forthcoming…









Nancy Bedingfield

Ever since childhood, Nancy has had a determined curiosity and passion for social justice. This has resulted in a fascination with politics, world events as well as a career in Public Health Nursing. These life long interests culminated with a Masters Degree in Public Health, focusing on Global Health from the University of Alberta in 2008. The dual highlights of this degree were a strong focus on world economics and several months spent in Uganda to think about these ideas. Throughout that wonderful education, Nancy came to the awareness that in order to affect the health of individuals all around the world she must act locally to develop and promote inclusive, sustainable communities. Nancy has become involved with the Parkland Institute and efforts to support women and children through local breastfeeding advocacy. Working as a Public Health Nurse in some of Calgary’s more culturally diverse communities has made Nancy excited about the wonderful resource that multiculturalism is for Calgary. This work has also made her fully aware of the day to day challenges faced by newcomers to Canada. She hopes to work to build a community that can support and engage, while helping all members to reach their full potential.


Olivia Tarasewicz

Olivia graduated from the University of Alberta with a Bachelor of Science in 2005 with a major in biology and minor in sociology. After graduation she attended Mount Royal University where she received her ACE TESOL certificate. For the past 5 years she has been working as an ESL instructor in Calgary. This opportunity has allowed her to teach students of all ages from around the world and has opened her eyes to various cultures. Currently she volunteers for Green Calgary in the Ecostore and in Commercial Environmental Services. She has also worked as a social media consultant for a recycling company. In the future Olivia plans on finding a career in the environmental sector at the community level. Another passion she has is food. Most days you can find her in the kitchen cooking up a storm and experimenting with new recipes.


Philip McCutcheon

Born and raised in Calgary Alberta, Philip is impressed with the beauty and vibrancy of his city. Since helping to organize demonstrations against the G8 summit in nearby Kananaskis in 2002, he has grown to appreciate the power of people to affect change and to determine their own futures. Philip cut his teeth as an activist working with Food Not Bombs, a youth based anti-poverty organization. In 2006 Philip joined the now closed Haymarket Cafe, a worker-owned cooperative which operated as an Anarchist bookstore, Infoshop, cafe, and social space for music and art in the heart of the city. Philip has been a member of the Calgary Anarchist Bookfair committee for 8 years which continues to offer key insights into how and why people organize themselves for collective self-betterment.

As a recent graduate of Development Studies from the University of Calgary, he is currently exploring what community development can look like in a city like Calgary. A strong supporter of the Arusha Centre, a grassroots environmental and social justice organization, he continues work towards creating a sustainable and progressive community in Calgary.

Philip has never been as hopeful or felt as capable working in Calgary as he is now. Philip loves his city is staying in put!


Robyn Luff

Robyn Luff is an, educator, ecologist, music lover, yoga enthusiast and life long learner. She grew up on Vancouver Island, constantly awed by the beauty of nature around her, though also constantly upset at all the rain. She completed her undergrad in Biology at the University of Victoria, and immediately headed south to sunnier climes. She spent two years in Puntarenas, Costa Rica, where she taught a self-designed curriculum at a bilingual elementary school. Her time in Costa Rica helped her to discover the transformative nature of education, and lead her to apply to the Master of Teaching Program at the University of Calgary. During the program, Robyn became increasingly interested in the shifting paradigms of education- from a linear, industrial model to a more cooperative, constructivist one. She believes that education is one of the most inspiring and vital ways to create social change. Robyn’s life is also strongly intertwined with water- she has worked with the Alberta Wilderness Association, Trout Unlimited Canada, and other community organizations to raise awareness of water issues through education. Robyn is currently very pleased to call Calgary home, and is excited and optimistic about the prospects for social change in our city.


Selena Gignac

Affectionately known as Chicken, Froot, or Pecosita (Little Freckled One), Selena’s adventures to date has been as diverse as her aliases. Selena’s international experience includes work as a community Archaeologist in Peru working to foster sustainable cultural communities, as well as assisting groups of students and youth on exchanges to both Peru and Mexico.

In her current role as Northeast Program Coordinator for the YMCA Youth Achievement Program, Selena has put her passion for inclusive communities to work. As a Certified Immigration Practitioner, Selena is passionate about refugee and immigrant rights and capacity building for Calgary’s young newcomers. She is a guiding committee member of Social and Community Responsibility through Education, Art, and Music (S.C.R.E.A.M.), which equips local high school students to take action for environmental and social justice in their own communities. She is also a strong advocate for Canada’s social responsibility to provide a safe and welcome home to the oppressed and persecuted, no matter where they are from.

Selena is greatly motivated by her ever encouraging husband Nathan and plays mama to the cutest dog you could ever imagine. Seriously – the cutest. In what little free time she has (thank-you, Next Up!), Selena can also be found learning to hoop dance, eating tacos, or listening to Stuart McLean – probably all at the same time.


Sonia Edworthy

Sonia Edworthy is a community activist practicing in a variety of mediums such as office administration, public art, gardening, radical queer organizing, self-publishing and bicycle maintenance.  Born and raised in Calgary, Alberta, Son has roots where the prairies meet the mountains.  She has a passion for creating and sustaining vital spaces where people can come together for synergistic social-change work.  As a co-founder of Anchor Archive Zine Library, Inkstorm Screenprinting Collective and Roberts Street Social Centre, she enjoys initiating collaborative projects, planting seeds and helping them grow.  Son completed a Bachelor of Community Design through the School of Urban Planning at Dalhousie University with an honours thesis exploring the social and environmental benefits of Community Gardening in Halifax.   Son has worked as a trail guide in the Yukon, horse wrangler in BC,  and in Halifax as a prep cook, film technician, trail mapper, support worker with persons with disabilities, art workshop facilitator with marginalized youth and women in prison, and co-founded a worker’s cooperative landscaping company.  Insatiable curiosity and eclectic work experience has diversified her skill-set and strengthened her sense of purpose: to resist planetary collapse by supporting cultural and biological diversity.


Tim Olynik

Tim spent his formative years playing basketball. When his height maxed out at 5’6, his basketball career abruptly ended, he finally read a book, and began to think about social issues.

Tim he convinced his parents to allow him to attend a school in Sweden. It was here that he first witnessed a fully functioning Social Welfare state: not a crazy left wing idea, but an effective, fair, and a just society where leisure, arts, and enjoying life were valued.

Tim reluctantly returned to Calgary, but spent summers coaching basketball camps in Alaska, Montana, and Idaho – using basketball as a tool to teach diverse youth to recognize their potential for success, express their creativity, and work together for a common goal.

During the last year of his Kinesiology degree at the University of Calgary, Tim realized he hated Kinesiology but was too close to convocating to justify quitting. It was at this time he also fell in love. Two years later he got married and left for Taiwan. Three years after that, Tim and his wife returned reluctantly to Calgary once again, with a really cute dog and a passion for social change.
He currently works at the Developmental Disabilities Resource Centre of Calgary. He has the biggest office in the building, though it is also the file room. He coaches a high school basketball team with ‘lots of potential.’


Travis McIntosh

In early 2010 Travis completed his Bachelors of Applied Policy Studies from Mount Royal University; this degree focuses on the disciplines of Economic Theory, Political Science, and the study of Public Policy theory.  Through the course of his undergraduate education Travis constantly sought ways to utilize the skills learned in the classroom by seeking opportunities both through volunteerism and paid employment.  Over the past four years Travis has had the opportunity to perform research on senior’s healthcare for the Parkland Institute, be employed by the Economics Society of Calgary as an event planner, sit as the New Professionals Representative for IPAC (Institute of Public Administration of Canada) Calgary, serve as chairperson and treasurer of his condominium board, and run and successfully win and serve as President of the Students’ Association at his University. Each of these experiences have given Travis insight and focus in the area of Governance and the Fiduciary and social responsibility of elected leadership; his passion is within these areas as he seeks to demystify these arenas so that more citizens and emerging leaders may participate more freely and confidently within the political sphere.


Vivian Trinh

Vivian was born and raised in Edmonton and has a Bachelor of Commerce degree from the University of Alberta. Attracted to the idea of studying abroad, she majored in International Business and did an exchange to Guadalajara, Mexico. After graduating, Vivian pursued her passion for a shoeless lifestyle with beachfront shacks and non-stop reggae by embarking on several backpacking adventures through Western Europe, Central America, and Southeast Asia. Her love for travel landed her a job for Hostelling International where she helped spread the importance of travel and the knowledge of responsible tourism. She also spent a year teaching English in rural public schools in South Korea where she perfected the art of charades. Wanting to learn more about sustainable tourism, she lived for several months in Cochabamba, Bolivia volunteering for a grassroots NGO working on “dual tourism” projects. She currently works as the Fund Development Officer at the Developmental Disabilities Resource Centre of Calgary. Although life can get pretty busy, Vivian always makes time for friends, family, yoga, snowboarding, camping, and daydreaming.



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