What does CJSW mean to me?
In June of 2013 I met Cailean David. We both happened to find ourselves in Ghana at the same time; he was on a field school and I was there on an internship. Also present were several of my close friends who I had met in my development studies program at the U of C, and within minutes of arriving they were all telling me about this guy I had to meet. It didn’t take long before Cailean and I were deep into a thought provoking conversation about singularity, economic trends, and what our changing world might mean for the human spirit. And when he strongly encouraged me to join CJSW upon returning to Calgary, I knew it must be worth looking into. I signed up for a volunteer orientation, and soon enough had a chance to get involved at the station.
Those first few months after returning to Calgary were really tough for me. My friends were working or in school, and I spent a lot of time wishing I could be with them. I was having no luck finding a career, so I got a job setting up tables and scrubbing toilets. I felt isolated, directionless, and depressed; I had been living a life of purpose while making a difference in the lives of others, and now I was just another underemployed university grad with little self-esteem. And during what was the hardest time in my life, I found CJSW. Every Tuesday I would get so excited to volunteer at this place that is so full of life and connection, this place where everyone feels empowered to contribute to this community that is so much bigger than any one person. That’s what I noticed from day 1; it was so apparent how much people care about this radio station. I saw the way that this station activates its members; how this society encourages everyone who walks through those doors to get creative, and make a difference in a way that is personal and meaningful to them. It did that for me, and for that reason I fell in love with this community called CJSW.
After a few months of volunteering I was offered production training, and shortly afterwards Joe Burima sat me down to talk about what kind of content I might want to create. I had fallen in love with podcasting, and I knew right away that I wanted to create a spoken word program that explored lived experiences. My life purpose is to support the personal development of others, and this was an amazing opportunity to take another step on that journey. It wasn’t long before I was working with Marc to develop a concept and work on the first episode of The Road Ahead. And I wish I could say that I lived up to the opportunity I was given, but I failed pretty badly. I got really down on myself for not living up to my own expectations, and I felt like I had wasted everyone’s time. But throughout this whole learning process Marc and Kai continued to encourage me, and with their support I was able to work out the kinks and build towards something I could be proud of. Earlier this year my show Flourish won an NCRA award, and learning that Kai and Kendra had taken the time to nominate me will go down as one of the coolest moments of my life.
The point is that CJSW gave me opportunities, and it didn’t give up on me. Even when my show was going through its existential crisis, I still felt welcomed at social events like the Coalminers Retreat and the Christmas party. That inclusivity and compassion sets this station apart, and I really got a greater insight into that last year when I began volunteering during funding drive. Having the opportunity to answer phones and hear from others who love CJSW and want to support it is so amazing – it really grounds you to the value we create for our communities. And then hearing personal stories from programmers about the role CJSW has played in their lives, that’s my absolute favourite. This place touches the lives of so many people, and I hope to build on the amazing work that’s already been done.
As time goes on I keep discovering more ways that CJSW is making an impact, and my love for the station grows with it. This year we are raising money to make CJSW one of the Canada's only stations powered by clean energy, and if we hit our stretch goal of $250k we will set up a gear loan program that will provide free use of equipment and training to Calgary youth looking to set up local all ages shows. How amazing is that?!
Now, you’ll be hard pressed to find me without some piece of CJSW gear on, and I love to share all of the amazing things that this station does for our city with my friends and colleagues. Help me spread the love! Get your hands on some amazing merch and help us continue making radio forever by pre-pledging your support to CJSW at fundingdrive.ca. And if you're feeling inspired, please consider writing in Flourish for the show you support so that I can tell everyone how much I love you on air on October 25th!