An Open Book

Meet Shannon Clarke, Chair of ECF’s Education and Learning Sub-Committee

“It’s important to feel connected to your community,” Shannon Clarke says.

She knows that from experience: As a community librarian with Edmonton Public Library, and a dedicated volunteer in the city, Clarke has done plenty of connecting over the years.

Her involvement with an early childhood coalition led to Clarke meeting a former chair of an Edmonton Community Foundation (ECF) committee, who thought Clarke would be an asset to the Foundation. Clarke had heard of the ECF before, and decided to give it a shot.

“It seemed like a really good fit,” she says.

It was. Four years later, Clarke is the chair of ECF’s Education and Learning Sub-committee, where she helps appraise the project proposals that come to ECF in those categories.

Getting involved with ECF had expanded Clarke’s idea of what education, and its community impact, can entail.

“When you think about education and learning, maybe the first thought is about schools,” she says. “Maybe you wouldn’t think about how, a food-security program […] where kids learn how to plant seeds, could therefore impact communities in general.”

As chair, she also attends multi-committee meetings, and hears about projects from every other focused sub-committee. For Clarke, it’s an inspiring look at the full spectrum of ideas happening in Edmonton, and a reminder of how projects outside personal interests can still impact and improve Edmonton as a whole.

“Some people might think, well, arts and heritage doesn’t affect me because I don’t go to theatre,” she says. “But that enriches our society and makes our communities and Edmonton a much more lively and strong, inspiring place.”

Which circles back to Clarke’s own passion for volunteering: how giving back, in whatever ways you can, causes a positive ripple effect in the broader community.

“I have kids in elementary school and I want them to know that the world is not about them — you can help and you can make a difference,” she says. “Even if it’s really small, just to contribute and to be part of something.

“You have to care about the world you live in.”