From small-towns to fast-growing cities, Surrey's Linda Stromberg has learned the importance of making connections wherever she goes. She isn't one to sit on the sidelines and wait for things to happen. Being a core committee member of SheTalks is just one of the ways she gets to know people, helps strengthen community and pursues her passions.
SR: Tell me a little about yourself, your family and work.
LS: I grew up in northern B.C. (Dawson Creek and Terrace), the middle of three girls. I trained as a graphic designer and had a successful career in direct marketing before retiring and moving to Surrey to raise my two children. My husband owned a power sports business in Langley and I was able to stay home and homeschool our children through to Grade 9 when they entered public school. I currently work from home assisting businesses with communications, marketing and project management services.
SR: Is there anything you’re particularly passionate about?
LS: I’m passionate about education and strengthening community. Ensuring we provide opportunities for learning and making those opportunities accessible to all is vitally important to our future. A strong community is one where people care about one another. It’s the key to a civil society.
SR: What does community mean to you?
LS: Community means a sense of caring among people – so for me community is connecting (finding common ground), sharing and supporting one another.
Growing up in small towns meant I was used to knowing and caring about my neighbours. Fewer women worked outside the home and as kids, when we were sent out to play, as long as we were home for meals, there was little concern or worry. It was understood that everyone would watch out for one another. Aside from a movie house, bowling alley and a couple of restaurants, entertainment (for the most part) involved getting together with friends and neighbours.
When we moved to Surrey I became a Block Watch captain in our new and developing neighbourhood. It was my way to connect with other families and get to know them by name. A lot has changed since I was a child. Many more women are working, there are many more choices for people and children are much more likely to be enrolled in organized sports or activities outside of their neighbourhood. It’s a larger community for sure and ways of staying connected have changed, but I believe connection and caring are critical to maintaining and strengthening community.
SR: How do you see yourself contributing to that sense of community and why is that important to you?
LS: I contribute by getting out, learning about and connecting with people. Sharing knowledge, experiences and information is important, in my view. I attend and promote community events and services. I’m involved in the school PAC (Parent Advisory Council), served on the library board, currently serve on a Surrey Board of Trade committee and recently joined the board of Surrey Cares Community Foundation. I was involved in planning Surrey’s first Community Summit, served on the Cloverdale Community Association and last year, I started a Facebook page called “Cloverdale Neighbour Network,” where I share information about what is happening in Cloverdale – things to do, places to go, services that might be of interest, etc.
SR: Why did you get involved with SheTalks?
LS: The idea behind SheTalks resonated with me. Women supporting women, giving women opportunities and a platform to share their stories and connect with others aligns with building a strong community. I felt I could contribute to, as well as learn from this amazing group of women.
SR: What do you feel the female voice and experience adds to the conversation and why is it important that it be heard?
LS: Women tend to express themselves differently than men. They tend to add context and background in more detail than men. Female perspectives and insights are quite different because our nature is more nurturing. I believe women often put more emphasis on gaining consensus and working collaboratively.
SR: Why is the notion of women supporting women important? Why does gender make a difference?
LS: Growing up, it was not uncommon in school for girls to be mean to one another, making “catty” hurtful remarks and even bullying other girls. We still hear about that kind of behaviour today. I believe it’s important to balance that with events where women can be vulnerable with and supportive of each other. I believe women need the friendship and support of other women. There are certain experiences and concerns that only another woman can truly relate to or understand.
SR: What or who inspires you?
LS: I’m inspired by the strength and resilience of the human spirit. Stories of those who have pushed through and overcome obstacles, pain or suffering and turned those experiences into positive energy.
SR: If you could tell your 20-year-old self something, what would it be?
LS: Listen to your inner voice. Hindsight will change how you view things and it’s important to learn how to forgive yourself.