Allen Jacobson, Morinville’s new Community Development Coordinator / Event and Volunteer Specialist working within the Town’s Community Services Department, poses outside the Morinville Community Cultural Centre Feb. 19. – Stephen Dafoe Photo
By Stephen Dafoe
Morinville – There’s a new man at the Morinville Community Cultural Centre. Allen Jacobson is Morinville’s new Community Development Coordinator / Event and Volunteer Specialist working within the Town’s Community Services Department.
Jacobson’s experience is as long as the title of his new position in Morinville. He recently returned from many years in Europe (the last 14 in Frankfurt, Germany) where he was involved in teaching at performing arts universities, performing throughout Europe, and setting up festivals, seminars and workshops.
Each year Jacobson would return to his native Canada to conduct workshops here. He and his family recently made the decision to return for good.
In addition to speaking English, French and German – three languages of cultural significance to Morinville – Jacobson is also a geographer. It was in that field that he started his career working for the Alberta Forest Service.
But a call from Senator Tommy Banks to play in his band at the age of 21 was an early start to a career in the arts that, initially, ran parallel with his work as a geographer. It was in the arts that Jacobson found his real passion.
“I was always a musician, and I think you are born or not [with] some connection to the arts,” Jacobson said. “We all see that with our children – if they are drawn to sports or science. That was it for me. I enjoyed music from a very early age and just was lucky enough to pursue it., realizing for a large part of my life that one cannot necessarily make the kind of living one may need to in the arts. So the geography was an interesting and wonderful tie in.”
Looking to use his skills
On his return to Canada, Jacobson said he was looking for a position that would tie together his various experiences and skills in resource planning, the arts, and his experiences performing and facilitating performances. “This opportunity came, and I said I’ll go for it,” Jacobson said of his current position. “As luck would have it – here I am.”
Jacobson’s role in Morinville will largely involve developing events, assisting in existing programs, and developing some historical recognition in future events and festivals. “I think there is a real, large historical component to this community – the French and German heritage,” he said, adding he feels his being a Franco-Albertan and fluent in German can be of assistance in that area.
But his role will not merely be assisting with existing events and creating new ones. Jacobson has been tasked with working with the community’s many and varied volunteers. “Something we’re going to address in my role is this whole concept of volunteerism,” Jacobson said, adding one of his first actions in his new position was to read the Town of Morinville’s Municipal Sustainability Plan. “I think it’s just great. The town is growing. Part of that growth in not only the community aspects, the business aspects, the event aspects – is also this whole concept of volunteerism. How can we develop that, first of all, and how can we broaden that and really make it part of the fabric of the community?”
Jacobson will be working to recognize the community’s volunteers by co-organizing the Town of Morinville’s Annual Volunteer Appreciation Night, set to take place at the cultural centre Apr. 26.
But in whatever the new Community Services employee does, he said he is looking to put service to the forefront. “I’m really looking forward to the opportunity of participating in and providing service,” he said. “I used to work for the Alberta Forest Service, and as naïve as this may sound, our group in our day recognized we were there to provide a service. The taxpayers paid our wages and we did our best to provide a service. We’re Community Services. We work for the Town of Morinville. And I look forward to doing that.”