Next Up Calgary 2013-2014

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Meet the current Next Up Calgary Year 4 group (2013-2014)!

 Carla Bitz  Carla Bitz

On Carla’s first big trip, she decided to backpack through Europe. Bold for an 18-year-old who hadn’t even seen downtown Calgary, but nothing crazy. That was, until she met a very inspirational woman who told her to travel somewhere “different”. On a whim, Carla decided to make the trek to Egypt, and she was immediately hooked on the world. Carla was not accustomed to talking about social and environmental issues, but after that first trip and all those that followed, her eyes were forever opened. This has led Carla to her current job at the YMCA working on community outreach and global initiatives, volunteering at the Sunnyside Community Association, the Next Up program, and now even considering becoming an all-season cyclist! Carla is passionate about holistic nutrition and is frustrated by the lack of proper nourishment in our world. She believes Next Up will help her learn the skills needed to spread awareness, turn ideas into action, and make the world a more just place. A self-described coffee snob and proud Sunnysider, she highly recommends black Americanos from Vendome or The Roasterie! If you don’t catch her over a cuppa joe, catch her in the mountains, at a yoga class, volunteering at Folk Fest, or cooking a deliciously alternative vegetarian meal. Carla is having the time of her life, and she’s simply excited for everything the future holds!






Erika Firebe Erika Firebe

Erika wants to see inside the shape of basic human interactions, the way we relate to our surroundings, the curve in the fundamental cyclic nature of things, the patterns of growth and change.  Furthermore, she wants this process to be conversational, engaging and a means of community involvement.  Erika is keen to explore the interactions of and intersections between socio-cultual and environmental inequities, and how these manifest as social determinants, informing health and health related behaviors.  Currently in her second year in the BHSc Health and Society program at the U of C with a concentration in Anthropology, Erika aspires for a career as a physician and medical anthropologist.

Erika is also passionate about the arts. Visual arts are an important for Erika and provide a unique platform through which she processes the world and shares her political, social justice and environmental views with a broader audience.


Erin Shumlich  Erin Shumlich

Erin Shumlich is not your average bookworm. In addition to her love of books and writing, this badass hockey-playing feminist challenges the status quo and brings new ideas to life with her passion and charisma. A native Calgarian, Erin’s academic journey has taken many twists and turns, which have enabled her to travel the world and combine learning with meaningful work. With a stint as Editor-in-Chief for the Gauntlet under her belt, she has also travelled across Asia and Australia. Most recently, Erin lived in Seoul, Korea, where she studied at Korea University. Erin is back in Calgary finishing up her honours degree in psychology and English at the University of Calgary, and she is already planning her next move. Her feminist perspective, cross-cultural appreciation, and sense of justice have led Erin to pursue a graduate degree in psychology that targets prevention and the root causes of pressing social issues in the fall of 2014.

Beyond education, Erin has built a unique outlook from her experiences and adventures. Through her life-long engagement with hockey, Erin has developed a rich definition of community. To her, sports are an important opportunity for community building. Within this frame of community, Erin embeds the values of equity, empowerment, and widespread inclusion. Community is not distinct from our environment; rather, Erin believes the two are deeply interconnected. Erin looks to build a world where our relationship with the environment is based on care, not resource entitlement.  Through Next Up, Erin is busy exploring the ways that social and environmental issues are entwined and how she can build communities that can work within this complexity and take these issues head-on.


Friederike Rischmann  Friederike Rischmann

Originally from Berlin, Germany Friederike came to Calgary via Peterborough, ON where she completed a double major in “International Development Studies” and “International Political Economy” at Trent University. This will be her sixth year in Canada and she is still excited to find differences between the two countries and watch herself slowly become a fusion of the two.

In her current job with an Aboriginal-owned consulting group she documents the history and uses of land by a particular nation in their territory. Friederike is impressed by the respectful and sustainable relationship many traditional societies have with the land. She first experienced this during a three month long learning/research project in the Northwest Territories and incorporated this realization in a concluding research proposal about the influence the built city structure has on city dwellers’ relationship to land and nature.

Friederike is interested in learning about ways to improve cities to lessen their impact on the environment and build conscious and active communities within them. Another desire is to work in the Global South to learn from and collaborate with local organizations to curb rapid, uncontrolled urbanization and install city structures for a dignified and sustainable future.

Some of her previous experiences include working on Project Neutral, a Toronto-based initiative aiming to transition neighbourhoods to carbon neutral and an internship with UNESCO where she helped organize events for the International Poetry Festival in Granada, Spain.

Friederike much enjoys travelling, photography, languages, socializing and tea. Having only been in Calgary for 2 months as of November 2013 Friederike is excited to find a community in Next Up which hopefully even persists after the program ends.


Jesse Russell Jesse Russell

Born and raised in Calgary, Alberta, as part of a large family, including three younger sisters, Jesse can be described in three words: harmonious, knowledgeable, and awesome.

Jesse is intimidatingly academically inclined, having obtained two Bachelor degrees in both Science and Nursing, and is well underway to completing her third, a Bachelor of Arts in Social & Cultural Anthropology at the University of Calgary.  Jesse currently works as a cardiac ICU nurse, volunteers with the Arthritis Society, and is interested in holistic approaches to healthcare.

Most recent travels took Jesse to a small South African town where she had an eye-opening experience volunteering with wildlife and members of the surrounding community.  Gaining a new perspective and re-prioritizing her life, Jesse returned highly concerned with issues surrounding oppression, poverty, materialism, and power dynamics that pervade our society.  She hopes one day to attend medical school and assist marginalized populations with their navigation through our healthcare system.

Her passions in life include music, travel, the outdoors, and LGBTQQIAASP equality.  When asked what she would change in the world, Jesse says equality across the board for all living entities, with the decimation of wage disparity at the top of her list.


Jordan Mang-WooleyJordan Mang-Wooley

Since graduating from high school, Jordan has discovered an interest in permaculture, holistic medicine, alternative solutions to basic needs, and human-potential-based radical mental health movements such as The Icarus Project.

Over the past three years, he has been searching intensively for meaningful connections between these burgeoning passions and his life experience. This journey has led him to the Process Work Institute in Portland Oregon, The Haven on Coastal BC and now to NextUp Calgary. From these experiences, Jordan has learned to continuously strive to look toward the root of disturbance, whether in his own life or in his environment, as a direct source of potential. He currently works with the United Church as a group facilitator for High School and University Students using his life experience to be a guide and encourage others to seek their own deep truths.


Laine Burlington Laine Burlington

Laine is currently working as a labour, social justice and human rights activist for a large Alberta union.  She found her way there in 2007 after completing her degree in law and society at the University of Calgary.  Laine is passionate about issues involving people and the environment.  She fundamentally believes that humanity is a cooperative species, but that many of the species have forgotten this.   She has four fur children – two dogs and two cats – and relies up on them regularly to maintain perspective.  At the end of the day, we all just need food, shelter, a little comfort and each other.







Laura-LeighMcKenzie Laura-Leigh McKenzie

Although her communities have changed, and grown to encompass many areas of Canada, Laura-Leigh is revelling in finding her voice in Calgary. Her narrative articulates a passion for sustainability, local initiatives, and environmental awareness. Her enthusiasm is infectious, and is expressed and disseminated through her work with REAP, an organization indentifying and celebrating local businesses and initiatives.

Experiencing firsthand the fundamentals of permaculture, and sustainable living in the context of the Canadian west coast, Laura-Leigh is exploring the medium of storytelling to facilitate the translation of the visceral emotions evoked by such experiences to a wider population.

Disillusioned and unable to reconcile herself to a job in government, Laura-Leigh has reoriented herself, a welcome change on many fronts. Back home in Calgary, she is positioned closer to family. Connecting, be it with family or friends, serves both as platform to transmit ideas, and provides a space to reflect.




Leslie Cramer Leslie Cramer

Always in the midst of an adventure, Leslie loves exploring new places, meeting new people, and learning new things. A social justice and human rights advocate, Leslie is driven to deconstruct power structures and build communities based on equity, inclusivity, and empowerment. She is occupied with issues of poverty, the criminalization of poverty, civil liberties, and political structures. One area Leslie is currently exploring is how arts-based methods can be used to bring about social change, empower marginalized communities, and overcome barriers to political inclusion and civic participation. Leslie has a degree in Development Studies from the University of Calgary and works in Calgary’s non-profit sector in the areas of social research, policy advocacy, and initiatives targeting poverty reduction.

Leslie was born and raised in Calgary, but she’s been travelled around the world: she has biked across Ireland, cross-country skied Norway, and hiked through Central America. While living in India and attending the University of Delhi, Leslie was able to travel throughout the subcontinent – one of her best adventures to date. Leslie spends much of her time engaged in visual and textile arts, blowing her money on vinyl, biking around the city, and exploring the mountains.


Leyland Bradley  Leyland Bradley

Leyland was unleashed into the world in Halifax, Nova Scotia, starting a journey that would lead her to the West Coast of Canada and eventually Southern Alberta.  Ready to spread her wings, Leyland enrolled at the University of Lethbridge (U of L), where she became actively involved in the Students’ Union as the VP Operations & Finance.  While in this position, her engagement with the community flourished, not only becoming well versed in balancing budgets, but also contributing to federal advocacy.  Leyland was on fire.  In brief, she served on the LPIRG board, became the News & Campus Beat editor for the Meliorist student newspaper, and captivated radio listeners with her contributions to the Coalbanks Dispatch and other programs for CKXU 88.3 FM.  Convocating with a Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Sociology, Leyland was motivated to expand her horizons and ventured North, finding herself in Calgary.  She currently attends the University of Calgary, pursuing a BA in Communication Studies, as well as spending some of her time blogging for the National Music Centre.  Leyland dreams of becoming either a journalist or a lawyer, in a place where humanity is sensitive to their youth, equality permeates every corner of society and oppression is no longer substantiated.



Madeline Hardy Madeliene Hardy

Madeleine discovered her passion for change-driven community while studying at the University of Lethbridge, through her involvement as a board member with the Lethbridge Public Interest Group (LPIRG). Since moving back to Calgary, Madeleine has been a strong advocate for the queer community. From producing short queer history films for the Fairy Tales Film Fesival, to producing the Coming Out Monologues, YYC, Madeleine has continued to build strong allies and focus on resiliency in the LGBTQA community.

Looking back, Madeleine attributes her focus on social issues to a number of personal life experiences. Her passion for social justice has been encouraged through the opportunity to travel at a young age. Experiencing other cultures, religions, and seeing how they affect social structure has helped to broaden Madeleine’s cultural perspective. At home, Madeleine enjoys an outdoor extremist lifestyle. In addition to having spent time working with Parks Canada, Madeleine identifies as a cyclist, runner, backpacker, climber, and alpine skier. Through these pursuits, she has experienced first hand, policy changes that directly affect her outdoor lifestyle.

Madeleine is all about protection of natural spaces, building community, feminism, anti-consumerism and conscious living. She is thrilled to have the opportunity to further develop her involvement in these issues through Next Up. Most days you can find Madeleine on her bike, canning, gardening or spending time with friends, family and her amazing partner.


Seth Leon Seth Leon

Seth Leon has roots in Nova Scotia and Quebec, but has spent the last five years in Calgary and southern Alberta. He currently works as a research officer for the Alberta Community and Co-operative Association. His focus is on supporting communities to  form opportunity development co-operatives that finance community owned businesses. Currently he is trying to get a handle on a handful of other co-op projects related to worker-ownership, local-food, and supporting Aboriginal led economic development. Seth finds this fun, and hopes it will contribute to creating a more co-operative, equitable, and democratic economy. Seth and his brother Ben also play in a rock and roll band called Jeremy Clarkson.Last summer they played twenty-four shows in twenty-four hours in twenty-four different locations. It was very tiring.






Thulasy Lettner Thulasy Lettner

Thulasy recently returned to Calgary after living in Zambia for the past five years where she worked on various projects that served economically marginalized Zambians, first with Engineers Without Borders and then with a technology company Zoona. Her experiences have drawn her to self-organizing people who care deeply about what’s happening in the world and are game to do something about it. While she has high hopes for the future – world peace and all that good stuff – she tries to live with intention, to be present and engaged, to learn, grow, and simply practice. Thulasy keeps herself busy spending time with her husband Graham and baby daughter Marya, bringing together friends around the dinner table, following her nose through good books, and making things happen with people who want to do the same.






Warren Greeves Warren Greeves

Warren Greeves is constantly searching for ways to challenge himself. He is a thoroughly involved student at the University of Calgary, a political junkie, and a social activist.

Majoring in Economics, Warren is passionate about social as environmental sustainability and is searching for meaning beyond the growth and profit model. This desire to change the yardsticks has Warren continually challenging himself to expand his knowledge while working effectively with others for positive change.

Warren is especially interested in the relationship between energy and the environment, and has been involved in the Solar Decathlon solar-home building competition and the Institute for Sustainable Energy, Environment and Economy Students Association. Warren is excited to see where his involvement in NextUp will take him.



Tess Van Den Bosch Tess Van Den Bosch

Tess is 27 years old which, according to certain belief systems, means she is experiencing the “turn of Saturn”. This is known to be a time of great change, where one may experience both significant challenges and also rewards.

Tess recently took a leap of faith in ending her seven year career in Oil and Gas, and comfortable lifestyle that came along with it, for exciting and uncertain new prospects. She has since spent time learning about Urban Farming, engaging heavily in the local music scene, collaborating with her neighbours in Cliff Bungalow, and most recently exploring social justice and activism through Next Up.

In addition to dedicating much of heart to various community initiatives, Tess is a self-described passionate socializer and holds her personal relationships (including her dog, Dash) to very high regard. Her preferred form of transportation is in a bicycle gangs, she enjoys writing poetry, and looks forward to volunteering at Folk Fest which she refers to as hippie Christmas in July.

The way Tess chooses to live her life stems from her belief that, “We live now, but we exist for the future; if we didn’t, why would we care about anything?” She looks forward to what exists on her horizon, and in the mean time she embraces the learning and growth that this time of change offers.