“I feel like I'm this people connector. That's what I do. I'm this human Facebook.”
I met Krystle quite a few years back at Capitano University in the Tourism and Outdoor Recreation Program. She said she knew we would hit it off when I introduced myself to the class and said my interests included taking long romantic walks along the beach. She knew I was “the goofball.” I always knew Krystle would create change as she is truly a community connector, a social butterfly and not to mention, has an infectious laugh.
Krystle now works at Quest University Canada as the community and sustainability program manager in Squamish. She co-chairs the Squamish Food Policy Council, and was the former president of Squamish Climate Action Network where she would manage food initiatives.
What does passion mean to you? When I hear the word passion, I think of something that you have to be fuelled by to keep you going. Yeah, you have to enjoy what you're doing, that's for sure.
What is your most meaningful passion? People and connections; seeing how what I'm doing is changing or bettering the lives of my fellow community members.
How are you fulfilling this passion? I think my work through Squamish Climate Action Network (Squamish CAN). I’m fulfilling it by finding out what the community needs, and bringing different partners or people together to try to develop a vision for change. This can be seen in our environment, climate change, food security and waste policies.
A recent example is the Mamquam Edible Schoolyard. The first phase is what you see today. It's thirty garden beds, one garden shed, a water station, a worktable, a compost, a bear-proof and critter-proof compost, and community benches.
Phase two will be an outdoor classroom with an indigenous garden attached to it, and then the third phase is a greenhouse. We're exploring right now what the greenhouse design should look like through interviewing teachers, the principal and the kids.
We want everything to be interconnected and integrated together. We want you to play, and run through the garden; instead of distinguishing the playground and garden as two separate spaces.
What moment in your life influenced you? I grew up on a little hobby farm which had fruit trees, blackberries, cows, pigs, chickens and ducks. I had responsibilities growing up, and I could see where my food came from.
When I was younger I didn't like getting my hands dirty. I didn't want to go clean the shit out of the chicken coop. I didn't want to collect the eggs, and I didn't want to garden. I didn't want to do those things, but I had to. My dad wanted to raise his kids on a farm so that we had those life skills and learned how to work hard. We learned what responsibility was, and so I didn't really realize how lucky I was until I started learning about food issues; now I'm like, "Oh wow, my experiences are already ahead of the game."
How has your passion changed over time? Well, right from the start I had always been really passionate about food issues in particular, but I didn't know a lot about the issues. Food issues to me were personal choices. How do you get ethical meat? What is ethical meat? Where do you buy your food from? When I first got into it, it did sort of evolve because it was very specific on my own impact that I had with my consumption on my personal food items, but then it slowly transitioned.
As Squamish Can started to get funding, I started seeing the other side of things, food sovereignty, food services, support systems, the food bank; and then I started learning about gardens and community gardens from social enterprise farms, and this opened a whole can of worms.
What struggles keep emerging with your passion? The one thing that I struggle with is that I have so many connections and so many ideas that just keep coming up for me, but I don't have the full funding or support to be able to do what I want to do full-time.
Also I don't feel like I currently have a mentor and I would like one. I realize that there's a lot of power in direct mentorship, I think for all people, all genders, but in particular, for me, I think I would really benefit from learning what other people have overcome. Also you don't have to reinvent the wheel, or make the same mistakes, you get to build off of their power and experiences.
Do you have any recommendations for others finding their passion? I often hear people say, "I really enjoyed this; I really like doing this; or I used to do this." I think too many times, people expect the world to come to them, and I think you need to grab it by its you-know-what, and I think you need to go to it.
It might be awkward, you might fumble, you're going to flail, it's going to suck for a bit, you're going to feel totally out of the loop. Whatever it may be, I think in the long run, knowing that you were able put in the effort, you're going to get so much back, so try, try something!
“I definitely connect my food passion to my upbringing for sure. I'm down to do anything. I'm kind of a Jill of all trades.”
~krystle l tenbrink