WHY SHE’S TOP 40: Causing played a key role in turning Edmonton’s NextGen into a City-funded program, and has helped sustain it through the years.
KEY TO SUCCESS: “Most people would say, ‘I am done for that day,’ but I am not like that … I like to be on top of things.”
In 2003, Christine Causing was ready to start an exciting career in community development. She had just earned a master’s degree in environmental studies from the University of Waterloo and wanted to move to Toronto.
But after a year of commuting between Waterloo and Toronto, and only finding dead ends, she finally took a job in her hometown with the Edmonton Economic Development Corporation — but on one condition: she was moving back out East in two years. “I even had all my stuff in storage [there].”
Seven years later, she owns a home here, and has a renewed appreciation of the city. “I really truly believe that Edmonton has great opportunities for young people who want to develop their career and make a difference.”
Causing’s involvement with NextGen, an organization giving young Edmontonians a say in how their city is shaped, has given her a strong sense of purpose that she believes she wouldn’t find anywhere else.
She started volunteering with Edmonton’s NextGen Initiative in 2005, back when the initiative was a one-year City of Edmonton task force. Other volunteers and city officials were impressed by her ability to engage young people and the fact that she always brought out twice as many people to her consultations than her task-force partners. So, when NextGen became a permanent fixture, she took a full-time staff job restructuring and then maintaining it.
Today she is the heart of the initiative, involved in every beat of the process from financial planning to promotions.
It’s made her feel more rooted in the city she almost abandoned.
Causing says it’s easy for people to “get a little bit down on Edmonton because they often compare it to other cities, but Edmonton is unique in itself.”
And the more of them who get involved in the city, the more theirs it will become. “It is all about building a young community, so people will have a sense of place here, a sense of community, so they will stay.”