Queen Alexandra, Edmonton
EPSB School Trustee Candidate – Ward F
Julie Kusiek is the past president of the Queen Alexandra community league, a mom to four, and a fierce community advocate. She has a master’s in political science focusing on youth engagement and believes that gardens are a great way to bring youth and other generations together. Gardens are a great way to encourage active citizens as they grow up.
“I grew up on an acreage and just love the smell of the air when you find yourself in a thick bush or forested area. While we’ve chosen to raise our family in the middle of the city, our tiny yard is full of fruiting trees, gardens and other plants. My happy place is the large garden we still have out at my parents’ acreage. One thing that’s important to me is finding more ways to give urban kids an experience with plants and trees. Connecting communities and schools is so important. I’m pleased to support Shrubscriber and the work that Dustin does.”
Julie has been involved in various city and community advocacy building initiatives for more than a decade. She has been at the forefront of saving Scona Pool and getting the Rollie Miles recreation centre built. Julie advocates for accessible, small-scale, multipurpose facilities that maximize park space while minimizing parking. These are important for building accidental bumping places for neighbours and for providing young people positive choices for their free time, accessible by foot and by bike.
When her neighbourhood came up for renewal, Julie led the charge on the bike lanes and community-centred design of streets that would benefit everyone – not just motorists. Julie believes that we need strong advocates throughout the city, creating great spaces for children – including school and community gardens. Hear Julie about YEG Core Zone, playground speed limits, and child-friendly city call on episode 44 of Speaking Municipality.
Julie ran a grassroots engagement called Thrive YEG during the last municipal budget to counterbalance increased calls for austerity. Hear Julie talk about Thrive YEG with Ryan Jespersen (630 Ched).
Julie Kusiek On The Power Of Community
“I’ve always been a believer in the power of community and in individuals to work with the people around them to make the world a better place.
It wasn’t right that our community was losing a local rec facility that facilitated community connections/relationships/support networks. It wasn’t right that the city was repaving roads in the exact same way that wasn’t creating a space for everyone (QA Crossroads/Engage 106-76).
It wasn’t right to move to a zero percent tax increase in 2018. That would have meant a significant cut to the city public programs, services and infrastructure that are important to so many different people – all for different reasons. That’s why I stepped up to create Thrive YEG.
It’s not right that we have so much unrest in public education right now. We need to elect trustees who have a strong value for public education and who can bring people together to make sure public education stays strong in Alberta. There’s lots of divisiveness and concern, for good reason. It’s important to me that we can cut through those emotions and can get to work towards a more positive, stable and equitable future for students in this province.”
Julie Kusiek For School Trustee Ward F
Julie is a strong advocate for education and is running to become an Edmonton Public School Board Trustee in Ward F, believing that public education should be grounded in the community. You can read Julie’s full platform on her website, but here are some key points:
Advocate for a strong curriculum and equitable education.
Creating greener school and community spaces.
“Julie will focus on collaboration and community partnerships to create gardens, schoolyard forests and permaculture experiences for students.”
Advocate for active school travel – walking, biking, and wheeling to school.
Offer local program choices that meet the needs of students and communities.
Augment learning through community collaboration.
Advocate for Infill that supports schools
Advocate for affordable childcare (in schools when possible)
Check Out #KusiekChats
Julie is hosting a series of special events called #KusiekChats, where she invites guests to join her to discuss issues in education. You can view a conversation that we had about schools and community gardens, along with other past episodes, on her website. The next event is scheduled for August 25 at 7 pm with special guests Dave Colburn and Michael Phair. They will be talking in greater depth about the role of school board trustees and opportunities for school board/city/community/province collaboration.
Why Julie Kusiek Joined Shrubscriber
Julie has memories of planting trees on the acreage growing up and is excited by the level of expertise within Shrubscriber and the potential to work with schools/students on education and tree planting.
“Shrubscriber is a goldmine for being able to bring to life the idea of a forest, trees, and permaculture to students.”
Julie supports school gardens and tree planting to create intergenerational ties and build community while mitigating climate change by providing shade and improving air quality. Recently, Julie encouraged the City of Edmonton to invest in planting trees around the perimeter of Mount Carmel Schoolyard to make up for trees lost due to neighbourhood renewal and help create a windbreak and beauty for students. Julie is excited that one of Shrubscriber’s mandates is to help marginalized communities as she would like to help get trees into communities that need them the most.
“My biggest hope for Shrubscriber is that we get lots and lots more trees planted in communities across Edmonton, including school/community areas so kids can be involved. While I didn’t always like it at the time growing up, planting trees, watering them and learning to use a spade is a pretty basic but valuable life skill, I think! The trees have so much value for themselves, but they also are a vehicle for other values. That value we get from working together, teaching one another and giving opportunities to practice new skills.
Via the online community interactions, I think building networks of really committed folks who want to see those same things happen and deepen our ability to clean our air with more trees and shrubs and to teach urban kids about food and trees/nature/growing things. Wouldn’t it just be fantastic if every child in Edmonton knew how a carrot grew or how absolutely delicious a fresh pea, cherry tomato or raspberry is straight from the bush? I want to bring that magic to more kids so it’s not a unique urban kid experience but one that all kids get in Edmonton.
And I know I’ve said this at other times, but cleaner air. The really dusty or unclean-smelling air near my place makes me feel like I’m in a clean air desert sometimes. It’s too far to reasonably walk to the river valley for a reprieve, so I have to rely on walks on neighbourhood sidewalks. I want more trees so the air around me feels cleaner more often, or another outdoor clean air refuge close by.“
Julie Kusiek’s Community Ask
If you want to have a school board trustee who advocates for climate change action and building a sustainable future through gardens, trees, and bushes, consider getting involved in Julie’s EPSB School Trustee Ward F campaign.
You can volunteer, donate, or get a lawn sign by visiting JulieKusiek.ca. And of course – whichever riding you’re in – cast your vote on October 18th.