Finding a sense of community is difficult when people would rather concentrate on their smartphones than talking to one-another in person. It’s common to feel alone as you pass your neighbours, co-workers or fellow students whom you see often but don’t actually know. Feeling that you only have yourself to depend on is an understandable side effect of the world we live in – but these Edmontonian women are bringing their city closer together and proving that not only can people rely on each other, but they can do great things when they collaborate.
Creative Edmonton, a group of community organizers working to support local causes, has been putting on events for a little over a year now, and the response has been stellar. With the mission of bringing together artists, local business owners, tech companies and musicians at market-style events, Creative Edmonton is quickly becoming the catalyst for a tighter-knit community. In a city where it’s winter more often than not, Founder Saniya Ghalehdar is getting people off the couch and attending events that benefit everybody.
“Creative Edmonton represents everything that I care about,” says Saniya. “Small business owners, creative geniuses, artists, musicians and local charitable causes. My family owns a small business and I saw the joys and struggles of hardworking people every day. It means the world to me to be able to build a community in Edmonton.”
Saniya, who’s working on a Bachelor of Arts and has a major in History, loves organizing social gatherings and giving back to the community. The founder recently partnered with the MacEwan Bookstore to bring Mini-Markets to the university and build a community on campus. Their upcoming Holiday Mini-Market features many local, female businesses such as Tamiri Bites which caters to raw desserts, Death on Two Legs, a rad clothing company and Brickbubble, an art based engraving business. They’re expecting at least 12 vendors to help students and working Edmontonians alike find inexpensive, thoughtful gifts for their loved ones.
“I knew Saniya was the most passionate business owner out there when it came to vendors,” says Kristen Reinhardt, a customer service representative of the MacEwan Bookstore who was given the task of finding vendors to come on campus and connect students with their community. “The quality and uniqueness of who she worked with was outstanding, so I knew she was the perfect person to help me start making these connections.”
Kristen, who graduated from MacEwan University with a diploma in Child and Youth Care, has attended many Creative Edmonton events in the past, and she says that Sonya continues to impress with her work ethic each time. It should be no surprise, then, that once the two collaborated the MacEwan Mini-Markets have been a hit.
“The students have been extremely supportive of the Mini-Markets. They continue to come every time and are appreciative that we’re bringing in vendors they can afford to buy from and get quality items,” says Kristen. “We all know how tough being a student can be, so it’s great to see them take time from their busy days to enjoy the market we put on and leave their stresses aside for a moment.”
Aside from halting their studies to shop, Kristen says that multiple students have joined the Mini-Market as vendors to sell passion projects and acquire extra cash. “Nothing makes me happier then working with our students and watching them be successful in an environment where people are always growing.”
Creative Edmonton’s Holiday Mini-Market takes place November 24-28 and December 1-2 at the MacEwan Bookstore. But if you can’t make it for those dates, the next upcoming event will be February 10-12 to help students find the perfect Valentine’s Day gifts for their bae – or themselves.
“This quote by Walt Disney explains how I feel about Creative Edmonton and why our work is so important,” says Saniya. “We keep moving forward, opening up new doors and doing new things, because we’re curious…and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.”
And that’s exactly what Saniya and Kristen are doing: Providing a place for the community to come together, rely on each other and collaborate to create something amazing. The duo encourages vendors – even first time ones who are curious about how to set up shop – to email them at firstname.lastname@example.org for a vendor application form or just to find out more information.
To learn more about Creative Edmonton, follow them on Twitter @CreativeYEG.