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Michelle Morrison brings people together for good reasons

Difference Engines
by Nina Linton

Michelle Morrison amid the posters at Back Alley Music.Michelle Morrison sees herself as a matchmaker of sorts. However, she is not one to make romantic links, instead concentrating on community connections.

A counselor by trade, outside of the office Morrison lends a hand wherever she can, donating her time, expertise and contacts to many local groups and charities, as well as furthering many self started initiatives with aims of bettering the populace.

Involved in everything from aiding Columbian refugees on the Island, to volunteering in her local church’s women’s association, to being a part of Breaking the Silence, a Maritime group dedicated to focusing on social justice issues in Guatemala, Morrison has a wide array of interests and endeavors.

Preferring to work at the grass roots level, Morrison was raised in a rural community on Prince Edward Island where helping your neighbour was a part of daily living.

“You just feel like this is how people need to live,” recounts Morrison. “It just comes naturally and doesn’t really seem like you are striving to do it but just that it is something important to do.”

Working to connect the dots between people in need and people with something to share, whether that be between someone looking for a space to hold a meeting or someone looking for a meal, Morrison believes a web of people supporting each other is key.

One of her biggest projects to date was re-opening Charlottetown’s Back Alley Music (formerly Back Alley Discs.) As a champion of local music, the socially active Islander and current co-owner of the eclectic music shop saw a chance to make a difference for local musicians, inturn providing them a platform to give back to the community.

In the four years that have passed, the store has evolved into a hub of vibrant social activity, both musically based and otherwise.

Hosting everything from sound yoga classes, to their once a month fundraiser famously known as “Soupy Saturdays,” where local chefs donate lunch, local musicians donate melody and keen supporters donate dollars towards local charities, Morrison says she measures success not in personal monetary gain but in goodwill and community backing.

“None of this is possible without the community themselves being participants,” reveals Morrison. “To give people the chance to take part in something that is going on is all I need to do, linking people who are willing to give and co-ordinate that in one spot. It raises awareness at the same time as it brings people together for something fun.”

Encouraged by what she has seen so far, Morrison believes that every person has ways in which they can contribute to society. For herself, sometimes it is as simple as getting people interacting, and giving them opportunities and encouragement to be involved.

“It is not just helping other people but engaging people to participate. I like to draw those people in who are on the outside, who are marginalized, help them find their voice, and not to speak for them,” says Morrison. “And hopefully, they can find their own place in the world.”

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