Why she’s a 2019 Top 40 Under 40: She helps improve the health of both individuals and communities.
For Jenny McAlister, connecting people with each other, and their communities, is a simple equation: “The healthier an individual is, the healthier their community is,” McAlister says. “When you’re engaged in meaningful community, there’s a reciprocal benefit to both the individual and the community.”
While we used to have built-in communities because we never moved far from our families, our engagement in our communities has shifted over the last 100 years as people venture further away from their proverbial nests. “We know humans are built to be social creatures and exist in communities, but we don’t do that as naturally as we once did, so we have to be more intentional,” she says.
McAlister walks the walk when it comes to community building. Outside of her professional work, which includes equipping premarital couples with skills to build strong relationships as well as providing clinical supervision to help train the next generation of therapists, she founded and helps organize the Strathearn ArtWalk. It’s a free, family-friendly art and music festival in the neighbourhood she’s called home for more than a decade.
In its eighth year, the non-curated, open-opportunity event has grown each year, quickly becoming the second largest art walk in the city, behind the Whyte Avenue Art Walk. Occurring on the second Saturday of each September, this year the festival sold out all 300 artist tables, a new record for the event.
“I like knowing my neighbours, and I think it’s important. It makes us all healthier. We want to celebrate what people can do when they work together. That’s what we try to do with the ArtWalk.”
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This article appears in the November 2019 issue of Avenue Edmonton.