Interview with Christine Martin, Former Director of Volunteers at Evergreen
Christine Martin has known Andrew Simpson for over fifteen years through their connection to Evergreen Brick Works. They share a mutual passion for sustainability and the power of mobilizing passionate individuals to affect positive change.
What has been your own journey with sustainability?
I’ve always been passionate about nature and cities. I first ran the Toronto Botanical Gardens’ volunteer program, and then subsequently Evergreen. I was actually a volunteer myself until about twelve years ago, when I assumed the role of director for that department.
What drew you to volunteerism specifically?
It’s funny because my background in university was biochemistry, but I really love working with people and I’m kind of an organizational geek. I also enjoy big picture thinking, as well as fine detail strategy. I had also been doing volunteer management in the refugee sector, so my skill set was perfect for Evergreen at the time. I believe that volunteers play a crucial role in supporting organizations’ work — they are really the heartbeat, and that’s truly what I love about it.
Name a couple of Evergreen initiatives that you would highlight?
In the past four years one project at Evergreen that was extremely pivotal was helping get the Don River Valley Park project off the ground. That was a brand new initiative.
It was really exciting, allowing volunteers to contribute to the whole program design. We wanted to draw on their expertise to bring this project to life. We had a core group of twenty to thirty people working on this at any given time, and then every four to six months, we would refresh the team. They would help us bring kids and families into the valley to lead walks, to have festivals and celebrations, and develop educational programs.
The second goes back to when I first met Andrew, when we were figuring out how to mobilize members to try and get a farmer’s market and children’s programs happening. We did a lot of testing and modelling, and this subsequently grew into what became one of the biggest markets in the city
When did you first meet Andrew?
I first met Andrew when we were both volunteers fifteen years ago, in the Brick Works design stage. We were helping research some of the social enterprise pieces, looking at for instance in a retail setting, what kinds of things would help drive sustainability. Andrew was leading some of that community outreach.
I remember Andrew was also one of the core members who worked on Saturdays at the market, early, early in the morning. And he’s continued to help with that for years. It’s amazing.
How did Andrew contribute to Evergreen?
What stands out for me is Andrew’s sense of dedication. He is really committed. He also helps mentor other people, because he has so much experience and knowledge. He’s that person you can depend on.
In recent years, he has been a great resource and asset to draw upon in terms of his knowledge in the sustainability sector, drawing upon that knowledge for special projects and thinking about the site itself, low waste programs, or future cities work.
What is your next chapter?
I’ve been pursuing a Masters of Design at OCAD, the Strategic Foresight & Innovation Program, for the past two and half years. It became obvious to me that I needed to move on in order to focus on finishing that. My hope of course is that this will allow the opportunities to look at new things.
Eventually, I would enjoy working for a small social good organization or consultancy, where I can contribute strategic thinking, possibly with a focus on city building and civic engagement.
About Evergreen: Evergreen is helping make cities flourish.
Cities that are low carbon, inclusive to all and sustainable at their core. Cities to live, move, work, play, learn and thrive in.
Since 1991, we’ve been facilitating change. Working with other city builders to convene, collaborate and catalyze ideas into action. Our teams connect with many stakeholders to lead with a mindset focused on solutions. We collaborate to develop innovative ideas and catalyze change by testing solutions, developing prototypes and scaling projects.
Through our award-winning suite of programs, we have actively engaged Canadians in creating and sustaining healthy urban environments in our schools, our public spaces, in housing and transit systems, and communities themselves.
Flourishing cities start here—at a site, in a neighbourhood, on the ground— where spaces become great places, and have a real and lasting impact, creating a better world for all.
Volunteering at Evergreen
Evergreen’s volunteers are vital to make our cities flourish. They are city builders who support a host of projects and programs at Evergreen Brick Works (Toronto) and across the country (primarily Metro Vancouver).
Through volunteering, you can take action and make your city better:
- Learn, grow and share your expertise and skills
- Get active, connect with nature and improve your health
- Build connections and be part of an amazing team
- Have fun while giving back
- Our volunteers will receive training and learning opportunities, regular communications, ongoing support and appreciation. Volunteers have opportunities to provide input and to grow, with opportunities for leadership roles.
Read the full report here: