Meet The Board: Jared Wesley
As an academic, and expert in polarization, Jared Wesley hopes to put his skills to good use on the REACH Board.
“I look for ways to make contributions, and this is one of the most interesting and valuable ways to spend my time in community service,” says Wesley. “I’m bringing the perspective of concern for my community, backed up by some of my academic experience and knowledge because I study Alberta politics and Canadian politics in particular.”
As many important social issues have slid into dvisive and polarized debates over the past few years, Wesley feels his expertise can help find the middle ground when it comes to addressing complex problems.
“There’s room for finding some workable common ground,” he says. “I see the REACH board as as safe space to have those difficult conversations. I think I can contribute to finding that common ground, since I have expertise in working with groups that, at least publicly, seem to be diametrically opposed.”
While opposing groups may not be able to agree on specifics or tactics, Wesley believes they can usually find a way to agree on outcomes.
“I think my interest in this comes from being a member of a biracial family, where you can’t really pick sides because both sides are a part of you,” he says. “My life path is almost a metaphor for the community generally. We want to come to a consensus on what the major problems are and how we want to solve them together, and REACH does a good job at that.”
Wesley says he’s also interested in the learning and networking opportunities associated with sitting on the board.
“I’m interested in meeting people from different parts of the community I haven't had a chance to work with,” he says. “REACH is one board that provides that opportunity. I’m excited to see where the experience takes my own research and how my research in public policy and resources from the University of Alberta can help with the problems REACH is trying to solve.”
While Edmonton faces some complex challenges, public appreciation and understanding of social issues is on the rise.
“It’s not that the public safety challenges Edmontonians face are becoming more acute, necessarily. We’ve always faced these types of challenges. But they're becoming more salient,” says Wesley. “We’re starting to see more of it, and it’s reached a point where traditionally marginalized communities feel safer to bring forward some of these concerns.”
Wesley feels REACH has a role to play in helping the current attention on problems become fuel for solutions.
“It's a positive thing and REACH can be a part of mobilizing that energy,” he says. “I think together we can all identify and take steps to solving some of the challenges.”