For as long as I have been working in the field of community development, the CCEDNet Gathering has been an annual event that I look forward to. I attended my first Gathering almost a decade ago; at the time still a university student just beginning to appreciate the importance of community-led strategies for economic, social and environmental resilience and sustainability. The Gathering introduced me to the innovative work being done across Manitoba and the people leading this work in their communities. As a student, the Gathering provided me with valuable connections as well as new ideas about the kind of work I wanted to pursue. Each year, I have returned to the Gathering while working for a number of different organizations in a variety of roles. I always leave feeling more grounded in the work that I am doing and with a renewed sense of purpose after spending the day celebrating the innovation and successes that are being generated in our communities.
The Gathering is often described as a reunion, and it now feels that way to me. Every year I look forward to connecting with former colleagues and mentors, learning about the new initiatives in community development and community economic development and making new connections with people. I love the range and quality of workshop content – it can often be hard to decide which workshops to attend because they all sound so interesting. More than anything though, I love the sense of community that I feel when I am at the Gathering. Many of us work for small non-profit organizations with limited resources and demanding workloads. Working to address systemic inequities and advocating for social change are long-term projects that at times can leave us feeling drained. There is no better remedy for this than being surrounded by people who share your commitment and passion for building stronger, healthier and more just communities and being reminded that you are not alone in this work.
Almost 10 years after attending my first Gathering, I have found myself working as the Events and Engagement Coordinator at CCEDNet and helping to plan this year’s event. It has been a privilege to be a part of the planning team and very exciting to watch it all come together. Being an organizer is a bit different than being an attendee – for example, I don’t have to worry about choosing between workshops because I’ll likely be too busy running around to attend any! But it feels pretty special to get to play a role in planning an event that will hopefully leave people feeling inspired, energized and part of a large community of folks who are working together to build a better future for all. There are some incredible workshops planned for this year and I can’t wait to see everyone come together on October 20th!
Registration is open! Find more information here
Jenna Drabble Over the last 10 years, Jenna has worked in different areas of community-based programming, including youth recreation, youth and adult literacy, food security and housing. This diversity of experience has given her an appreciation for the many different ways to approach and understand community economic development. She is thrilled to now be a part of the CCEDNet team.
Jenna holds a BA in International Development Studies from the University of Winnipeg and an MA in Geography from the University of Manitoba. In her research and work at the community level, she prioritizes building relationships, working collaboratively and facilitating meaningful engagement. In her spare time, she is a beekeeper and is working on starting up a small honey business.