I earned my BSc in Biology from the University of Calgary in 2007. I always intended to take my knowledge of life on the planet and apply it to environmentalism. This background gives me both experience in scientific thinking and the ability to explain natural processes and environmental issues to a non-scientific audience.
From 2011 to 2013 I worked for Cambridge Carbon Footprint as their Volunteer and Events Organizer. I managed the organization’s 100+ volunteers, as well as organized 3-4 events per month for their busy events calender including workshops, talks, stalls and large events themed on different aspects of low-carbon living. These included swishings (clothing swaps), panels on topics such as collaborative consumption, and a full-day skills swap festival.
in 2011 I created Growing Spaces, a project with Transition Cambridge that aimed to take small pieces of wasted land within the city of Cambridge and improve them with edible landscaping. Over the course of nearly 3 years and with the help of many volunteers, the project transformed 18 spaces around the city, including 6 community gardens. The project received a Sustainable City grant from the Cambridge City Council in 2012, won P&G’s Future Friendly Award for East Anglia in 2011, and received positive media attention throughout. Growing Spaces has its own website with complete photos of all the spaces and links to news articles at http://cambridgegrowingspaces.tumblr.com.
I was a Games Maker at the London 2012 Olympics. Over 240,000 applications to be a Games Maker were received, of those 70,000 volunteers were chosen. I thoroughly enjoyed my 16 day role in the Venue Communications Centre (VCC) for the North Greenwich Arena, which hosted Artistic Gymnastics and Basketball. My duties included monitoring radio transmissions and acting as the point of communication between the VCC and various department managers roaming around the venue.
In 2007 I became the Outreach Director for the Southern Alberta Chapter of the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS). Primarily I was responsible for managing the chapter’s volunteers, as well as connecting with the public through the bi-annual newsletter "Green Notes" and providing a presence at community events. I also took up responsibilities with executing the local activities for two national CPAWS campaigns, Caribou and You and The Big Wild.
As part of The Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society’s (CPAWS) national Caribou and You campaign, I led the efforts of the Southern Alberta chapter to gather signatures on postcards for delivery to Ottawa. With the help of many volunteers, some of whom dressed up as the campaign mascot, we collected over 700 cards, which was the highest number contributed by any of the 13 chapters across the country. On the ground, each chapter’s organizer was responsible for finding events and places for Woodland Caribou to visit, partially to gather signatures and conduct general outreach, but also to generate some excellent promotional photos.
I was the first to introduce our mascot to social media and started a Facebook profile for Caribou, realizing that people enjoyed taking their photo with the mascot and could tag their photos on Facebook, thus allowing their own social networks to be exposed to the campaign. Facebook has evolved since then and Caribou’s profile has since been converted into a “community” page.
In university I ran for a Students’ Union External Commissioner position against 10 other candidates. I won one of the 4 available places and held the position from May 2006 to April 2007. Primarily, my responsibility was to lobby provincial and federal governments on post-secondary issues along with my 3 fellow commissioners and the VP External. I was also part of the team who worked to draft the Students’ Union’s first sustainability policy, and helped to organize several campus-wide events.
In 2006, through my role with the Students Union, I had travelled to Ottawa for a week with the lobby organisation Canadian Alliance of Student Associations (CASA). After receiving basic lobbying training I met directly with MPs and Senators to discuss Post-Secondary Education Issues. These photos are from our main event for the media, presenting a map of Canada filled with footprints on which students across the country had written what Post-Secondary Education meant to them.
I grew up in Calgary, and lived there until 2009, when my partner and I moved to Cambridge, UK for the pursuit of his PhD. We spent 4 years there before returning to Canada in late 2013.
I have always been fascinated by nature and during my university years I decided to make environmentalism the subject of my career. To that end I earned a BSc in Biology and became a skilled organizer through a variety of positions, from President of the University of Calgary EcoClub, Outreach Director at the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, and most recently Volunteer and Events Organizer at Cambridge Carbon Footprint. I also have an interest in politics, which started with an elected role in the Students’ Union at the University of Calgary. This continued through volunteer campaign work with the NDP and a local organizing role for a national referendum campaign in the UK.
I have extensive skills in campaigning, organizing, volunteer management, event management and social media, coupled with determination and creativity. I am looking forward to continuing my work in improving the interactions between people and the rest of the environment in as many unique ways as I can. Browse the below entries to learn more about me, and feel free to contact me at slaferguson (at) gmail.com.
A highlight of my time with Cambridge Carbon Footprint was the “Second Hand Fashion” project that I managed. A small amount of funding was awarded to CCF for the promotion of second hand clothing and textile recycling, including a large event in late 2012. Due to time constraints of the funding, the project needed to be fully executed in less than 3 months.
Immediately I formed a working group of volunteers, who used local charity shops (second-hand stores) to create fashionable looks from used clothing. A photo shoot was organized and executed within 6 weeks, including assembly of the outfits, recruitment of models, securing a photographer and location, organizing fittings, and providing hair, make-up and catering on the day. The photographs were given two-page spreads in the local Style magazine and the Cambridge News, and they were also on display in the city centre for two weeks.
In the 6 weeks following the fashion shoot, we organized a large event which received over 100 attendees, including a full fashion show of the photographed outfits, and a swishing (clothing swap). You can see a video of the fashion show here.
Key to the project’s success was forging a partnership with a local modelling agency (Catwalk Cambridge). This project is an excellent example of my resourcefulness, creativity and my ability to manage both a team and many details under pressure and tight time constraints.
Photos by Chris Loades.
In 2011 the UK held a national referendum on reforming its voting system to adopt the alternative vote over the current first-past-the-post system. The “Yes to Fairer Votes” campaign established local campaigns for the “yes” vote all across the country, and in Cambridge I was selected as local organizer (job-shared with one other individual). Together my colleague and I established a great working relationships to managed a phone bank, a facebook group and organize volunteers for phone and door-to-door canvassing. I also took on the responsibilities of assisting a group of volunteers to organize a debate in Cambridge as well as information stalls in the central market square. Finally, I also represented the local campaign in the media, including print, radio and television (see screencap above from BBC Look East’s Politics Show).
The referendum overall resulted in a “no” vote, however a handful of constituencies in the country did have a majority “yes” vote, including Cambridge.
During the final push of the “Yes to Fairer Votes” campaign for a yes vote in the 2011 alternative vote referendum, comedian Eddie Izzard toured the UK over the course of a few days to promote the yes vote. Local campaigns in the chosen cities were tasked with developing and organizing and activity for Mr. Izzard to engage in which would capture local and regional media attention. For Cambridge I chose rowing on the River Cam, a very popular activity that is characteristic of the city. I arranged for rowers from two Cambridge colleges to help host the event and lend the other 7 rowers for the boat. Timing was extremely important as Mr. Izzard was only scheduled to be in Cambridge for one hour in order to make his next stop on time, but the event was executed on time and provided some excellent images. It was covered by two regional television stations, local radio and local newspapers.
For the national launch of The Big Wild, a new partnership between CPAWS and MEC, media events were organized across the nation. In Calgary I partnered with staff at the local MEC store to organize a “Canoe Commute.” For the event MEC employees and CPAWS volunteers canoed and kayaked down the Bow River into the city centre, in a more adventurous version of a morning commute. Simultaneously, more MEC and CPAWS volunteers would travel through the downtown core wearing outdoor sporting gear and passing out information to Calgarians. We would meet up with our canoe commuters and the media at the river for a camp breakfast. I was responsible for leading the downtown contingent of the event and I also handled the on-shore media interviews, including CBC Radio, Calgary Herald and a television interview for the Global TV.
I am passionate about the NDP in Canada. I have campaign experience from managing my partner’s campaign in Calgary West during the 2008 federal election, as well as contributing as to his Calgary Bow campaign in the 2008 Alberta provincial election. I gained a multitude of experience from these campaigns, from maintaining the database to putting up and keeping track of sign locations, to assisting with fundraisers and training volunteers. I find election campaigns to be an exciting and satisfying challenge. I was unable to campaign in Canada during the 2011 election as I was living in Cambridge, but I did return to Canada in order to attend the 2012 leadership convention in Toronto, and am looking forward to contributing to the next federal election in 2015.
While at the University of Calgary, I became President of the University of Calgary EcoClub in 2004, a post I held until I graduated in 2007. During that time I initiated a number of campaigns including a successful push for improvement of campus recycling services, as well fundraising through film screenings to purchase wind power for a campus computer lab, and several other awareness raising campaigns and events. I led a team of between 6 to 10 other students who were responsible for areas such as finance, communications, membership and events. With the help of other extremely talented students on the executive, I created a more professional image for the EcoClub and forged effective partnerships with the Students’ Union and campus staff.