Sebastian Barerra has been with the Parkdale Cromdale community for seven years and he continues to be an integral part of the change in our neighborhood as we continue to grow. He will be acting as our new Program Director here at the Parkdale Cromdale Community League and will work to provide different events and classes for all of us to access.
In turn, we have decided to interview him for you to get know him better!
First a little background information; Sebastian has a daughter who is seven years old. His hobbies and work melt together, as he finds that community development is not only his responsibility but passion. He is not only a Program Director, but a Youth Program Coordinator, and a musician, playing guitar for local and widespread shows.
Now let’s get to the questions:
Tia: If someone were to summarize who you are in three words, what would they be?
Sebastian: Incredible...I love impossible, so impossible, and I don’t do anything I don’t want to do. So I’m hard to deal with.
T: Stubborn you might say?
S: Yup. *Laughter* Yes I am.
T: What drove you to become a part of the board for the community league?
S: The vision. When I came to Edmonton the first time, I noticed there was not as much community. You can have community spaces and community engagement, but at the end of the day, everyone goes home and that’s it. I was looking to create a space where we can have ongoing relationships and where people can meet to create community building.
There was a group of people working, they were trying to redevelop the space and open the doors for new members to come through. I was invited by Martin Bandura, who used to be the President of the community league, and he brought me here and said: “Sebastian, I would love you to bring your energy and vision to help me set up this community.”
I think that was what engaged me - I saw the community league as an opportunity to develop a grassroots movement through community development.
T: You have taken over the position of the program director, what drew you to that rather than other positions and what will you be doing as programs director?
S: I think I’ve done a lot of program development already - It has been a key element in engaging people. I strongly believe that the programs build capacity in people, not only through the guitar lessons but also programs working with other non-for profits. It allows us to maximize services and create smart economies. I see programming as a tool for community engagement and community building capacities.
T: If we’re sitting here a year from now celebrating what a great year it’s been for you in this role, what did we achieve together?
S: As the President of the community league for the last year, I think one of the things we’ve succeeded in is creating a large board and the process took quite some time. The status quo of most community league boards is 5-6 people, but in this case, we want a large group, 16-18 people. We want people to come to our board meetings to provide different opinions and points of view. We need people to be taking the lead. My dream is to have subcommittees coming to report what they’re doing with the board and inviting them, rather than having them ask permission. I want them to have freedom and empowerment because then they can focus their passion where they would like to. Do you know what I mean?
T: Absolutely. They feel motivated to be a part of the community.
S: Right! If I ask you to be a part of the community garden, but your passion is the playground - Then you will leave the community garden. The key and my goal is to match the passions of the community members with the needs of the community. At the end of the day you’re volunteering your time, so what do you love to do? I always ask people what they love to do because I want to connect with them. When you allow people to do what they love, you make people happy.
T: Is there anything you want people to know in this blog post? What would your takeaway message be?
S: Get involved and take over the communities more! Don’t ask for permission; just go and do it. Don’t be afraid to take it over.
A warm thank you to Sebastian for taking the time to be interviewed and we hope that this provides you with an understanding of who he is and what he will do for our community.