Learning from a different world view: Indigenous Canada course

When COVID-19 hit, my world slowed down a bit and I needed something to keep moving forward. I had a university course bookmarked for a while, then Dan Levy challenged me to be his classmate, so… I signed up!

What is Indigenous Canada?

Indigenous Canada is a 12-lesson Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) taught from the University of Alberta’s  Faculty of Native Studies. Each module covers Indigenous histories and contemporary issues in Canada. Taught from an Indigenous perspective, this course “explores key issues facing Indigenous peoples today from a historical and critical perspective highlighting national and local Indigenous-settler relations”.

I decided to register through the Whistler Library since it offered a facilitated review and weekly dialogue about course materials. My cohorts included: a retired police officer and teacher, a nurse, environmental practitioner, and a few foreigners based in Whistler on a work visa. Our facilitator, who has hosted the coursethrough the library several times, commented on how each session is different depending on participants’ perspectives and base knowledge.

learning about my privilege

Growing up in Ottawa, my education about early Canadian history was taught from a settler’s perspective. It was all about first contact and how the fur trade established and evolved across Canada. Until I moved to BC in 1999, I had not learned anything about the Indian Act or residential schools.

Living in Whistler, I’ve had a number of opportunities to meet and collaborate with Indigenous peoples. Whistler, British Columbia lies in the unceded territory of the Sk̲wx̲wú7mesh and Líl̓wat Nations. It wasn’t until the stunning Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre (SLCC) opened in 2009 (just before the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games were hosted here) that many locals and visitors had any idea about the resort’s Indigenous roots.

Lilwat Eagle Feather

A gift from a Lil’wat elder at my wedding.

Recommendations from the  2015 federal Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) were truly eye-opening for me. The TRC revealed the ugly side of Canada’s history. It unpacked the impact of residential schools and influence of settler world views on Indigenous culture.

Anyone moved by the US-led Black Lives Matter movement recently must acknowledge that systemic racism, particularly affecting Indigenous peoples,  is ever-present in Canadian society.

I’ve recently grappled with my own ignorance and decided to face up to the racism that is infused in our communities, taking action to learn more.

my take-aways from indigenous Canada

  • Reconciliation can only happen if we understand the truth. I first heard this from Chief Dean Nelson of the Líl̓wat Nation at a TRC event in Whistler. We all need to re-learn about Canada’s colonial history and how this has shaped modern society.
  • Treaty rights and unceded territory rights are very relevant for reconciliation. There is much to learn about impacts of treaties imposed on different nations over a century ago. Western provinces have ongoing negotiations to acknowledge Indigenous rights to unceded traditional lands.
  • Understanding and adopting Indigenous world views, particularly as they relate to our connectivity with the land and each other, are so important and can’t be overlooked as we experience the repercussions of climate change around the globe.
  • Revitalizing Indigenous language and culture has to be a priority to ensure First Nations can learn from their elders, reclaim what was theirs, and heal.
  • The conversations with academia and Q&A lead by Dan Levy were so helpful to expand understanding. These Zoom calls, recorded in 2020, went deeper into the course lessons and highlighted how teachings are hyper-relevant.

how I’ll put new perspectives into action

why you should take the course

In my mind, every Canadian could benefit from taking this course.  Generations of Canadians need to remove the blinders, let go of their prejudices, and see history from a different point of view.

There are few barriers to taking the course:  it’s offered online and it’s FREE! Register here.

Riding it out… decend into 2021 with a renewed purpose

Whew! Who’s jumping into 2021 and trying to start fresh?  Before you leap into anything, go back to your WHY; your organization’s purpose.

Through 2020, every organization had to dramatically shift how they communicate and stay engaged with customers, stakeholders and employees. No matter the size of the company, every leader had to juggle changes in operations and customer service, health and safety protocols, and internal communications.

As a communications and marketing professional, I’ve come across many cringe-worthy examples of what not to do, but I’ve also been encouraged by authentic, heart-felt messages about how companies are rebuilding and reinventing.

How to Pivot with purpose

PURPOSE: the difference you’re trying to make in the world. Conscious Capitalism

I recently listened to Mitch Joel’s interview with Simon Sinek and was reminded of an essential lesson about purpose. Last year’s chaos changed everything we thought we knew about our organizations. Businesses everywhere were forced to pivot.

Did your leadership keep purpose at the core? Sinek teaches that a pivot is not starting over or shifting your purpose.  After all, people don’t buy what you do, they buy WHY you do it.

Instead, it’s about looking at what and how you do things to fulfill your purpose. See your purpose from all angles to find opportunities.

“If we pivot based on WHAT, it limits our creativity. When we pivot with WHY, we look at what opportunities we have in this modern world to bring our WHY to life in entirely new ways.” Simon Sinek

Energizing Purpose: an example

When the team at the Green Moustache Organic Café were forced to shut their doors at the start of the pandemic, they looked deep within to decide on their next move.  Serving only fresh, 100% organic ingredients on their menu, it’s an ongoing challenge to plan for and manage inventory. Spoilage is not only costly, it’s counter to the company’s focus on zero waste.

The team knew their loyal customers would crave a plant-based whole foods diet throughout the pandemic. They also knew how important this diet is for a body to build immunity and heal. The founder’s WHY is centred on helping the body heal through organic, plant-based nutrition.

The Green Moustache’s pandemic pivot kept purpose at its core. Each café location has transformed into a 100% organic, zero waste grocery store and takeout café. Food served continues to be made fresh daily, using plant-based, whole, unrefined ingredients. The new grocery side sells reusable glass jars of dry ingredients like lentils, chickpeas, spices, nuts, dates and seeds. It also sells organic fruits, vegetables and sauces for make-at-home meals.

When the company launched the zero waste grocery store, this transition supported its purpose. Existing customers had additional ways to enjoy the Green Moustache’s healing menu. New customers were drawn to the café so they could fill their shelves and eat healthy while at home.

building back better

In a time of restraint, restrictions and limitations – creativity is the answer to moving forward. What is possible as we build back better? What would you change? Which ideas would you launch if you chose to live on the edge and jump into a new future?

Sapphire Pow

We’re coming down the chute of this pandemic. There’s still time to make a change for the better. But – just changing what you do and losing sight of your WHY will create confusion. As we transition into 2021, whatever your team decides to do, keep your purpose at the core.

Need help planning for the year ahead and building a strategic plan founded on purpose?

Contact me. Let’s talk and get creative.

We’ll weather the storm. Let’s have some fun while we ride this out!

Branding and Writing Guide: your foundation for crisis communications

When I started a new contract earlier this year, little did we know how much this work would support my client through the COVID-19 crisis. We knew we had some gaps to fill in terms of how the organization communicated its brand story and how this would show up across our community.  Now that we’ve had a day to catch our breath after the last few weeks, I wanted to share some key insights and lessons learned.

My client is a 30-year old social enterprise that is busy doing meaningful work that supports the social wellness of community members from before they are born to their golden years.  It offers a range of programs and services that deal with issues that include food insecurity, social isolation, emotional health, housing, and advocacy.  The Whistler Community Services Society (WCSS) runs two busy thrift stores in town and offers over 20 social programs and services. It was founded with the purpose of funding social programs and services in Whistler and today, it also diverts about a tonne of materials per day from landfill.

Capturing the HEART OF THE Brand

Like many non-profits, WCSS has been so busy doing the vital work it does for our community, that it lacked a solid foundation and needed integrated platforms for communications, advocacy and fundraising. The first priority was to pull together their leaders and managers to share their ideas on how we could capture their history, frame their story, share their mission and guide communications going forward.

The front line was engaged to refine and build on the draft ideas, sharing their insights on how customers and clients perceive the brand and how the community views the organization. A survey was shared with staff and volunteers to capture their feedback on a website refresh.

StepPING STONES for a Communications Strategy

The steps that followed were always part of the plan, but they immediately became important resources when faced with the COVID-19 crisis:

  • branding and writing guide was created to outline the visual and written guidelines on how to share content and tell the story of the social enterprise.
  • The story of the organization and key messages about its programs and services were refined.
  • Templates were developed to make it easier to respond to media requests and to share news about the enterprise.
  • Content strategies and calls to action were outlined for social media engagement.
  • A new donation platform and tool for client relationship management (CRM) was integrated with its website (launched a day before a major fundraiser!).
  • Recommended procedures were introduced to manage crisis communications.

While we navigate the next phase of the COVID-19 crisis, we can build on this new foundation and refine as we go.  More than anything, we can learn to launch even if it’s not perfect! Just having the draft ideas ready was so important for the team to be responsive and effective communicators.

Insights and lessons learned

  • Internal communications with staff and stakeholders was initially outside of the scope of our work. In hindsight, this became a hugely important part of engagement during a crisis.
  • We could not have managed without a solid donor engagement and management tool. From the first moment they asked for donations, the volume of responses and the generosity that followed was unprecedented.  The donor database effectively grew from 0 to 500 in just a few weeks.
  • It was essential to lean on our network. To respond quickly and effectively, we asked for urgent support from our web and graphic designer, local media, other nonprofits, fundraising experts, social media managers, partners in the resort (local government, business, chamber of commerce) and the organization’s board of directors.
  • Regular check-ins became a priority. Communications does not happen in a bubble. Input from the front-line, clients and community partners has been invaluable. Being nimble, able to change course or build on ideas that have traction are key insights from the last few weeks.

Does your organization have a branding and writing foundation you can count on when you need it most? Are you feeling equipped and prepared to smoothly manage communications on a day-to-day basis, and in times of crisis?

Let’s talk and see what can support your communications needs. Contact me today.


Help your community

WCSS FundraiserWant to make a difference in Whistler during the COVID-19 crisis? If you can, please DONATE to WCSS today.  Or make a donation to  your local food bank at Food Banks Canada.

Save your spring cleaning items for the Whistler ReUseIt or ReBuildIt Centres when they reopen. The thrift stores in your community are counting on it!

 

 

Are you working to reduce your business’s ecological footprint?

In a recent release of Vital Podcast 2019, Whistler-based waste management specialist Sue Maxwell shares that Canada, as ranked on the world stage, is considered a wasteful society.

Studies show that if everyone in the world lived like the average Canadian, we would need 4 – 5 Earths worth of land and its resources.

Take a test to find out how many Earths we would need if everyone lived just like you.

This shocking stat doesn’t even consider business operations and how they contribute to overuse and waste of natural resources. Business owners can learn a lot from grassroots initiatives that aim to reduce our personal footprint and tread a little lighter on the ground.

Working with community groups, industry stakeholders and experts in different sectors, businesses can have a big impact to reduce emissions and adapt to climate change. More often than not, there are substantial savings on a business’s bottom line when eco actions are adopted on the ground or where systemic change is implemented in their industry.  This story in The Guardian: Modern Life is Rubbish, illustrates how some businesses are choosing more innovative packaging to reduce or eliminate waste, and it’s paying off.

If your business is ready to learn more about how it can impact climate change and reduce its environmental footprint, here’s how you can learn more… add this January 16, 2020 event to your calendar to get started:

Vital Cafe: Climate Crisis

In this Vital Cafe: Climate Crisis, a Vital Panel of local experts will fill you in on what’s up in Whistler with regards to action toward a lowered ecological footprint.

Then, we’ll break into a facilitated and rotating round table discussion to ensure participants have the chance to engage in conversations with community members with all kinds of lived experience.

Vital Panel

In 2020, we are excited to launch Vital Cafés that include a panel of local experts and folks with lived experience, as well as, the round table discussions started in January 2019.

  • Diana Mulvey Boone, Board Member AWARE
  • Max Kniewasser, Resort Municipality of Whistler Climate Change Coordinator
  • Sue Maxwell, Waste Management Specialist
  • Arthur De Jong, Whistler Blackcomb employee and embracer of action
  • Kristina Swerhun, Whistler Naturalists, Glacier Monitoring
  • Irie Smith, High school student, Whistler Waldorf and zero waste advocate
  • Michael D’Artois, Board Member Mature Action Committee and community advocate

Vital Signs

Vital Signs aims to inspire civic engagement, to provide focus for public debate, and to help a range of actors take action and direct resources where they will have the greatest impact. [Read More]

Locally Relevant Solutions Through a Global Looking Glass

In 2017, Community Foundations of Canada started to align our national data sets with Agenda 2030, the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The SDG framework allows Whistler to measure local data against common global indicators.

Entrepreneurs: how to know your startup will be founded on purpose

I’ve had the pleasure of working with a range of new entrepreneurs over the course of the last five years, and each year it gets more and more exciting. What is becoming clear for me is that the conversation around starting a business inspired by a higher purpose is no longer a foreign concept. If anything, the ideas we discuss and the lessons we teach get the entrepreneurs fired up and even more determined to get their business ideas launched.

When Seeds Consulting was conceived over a decade ago, there wasn’t a lot of talk about conscious or purpose-driven business. Social ventures were perceived as only  businesses in far-away places around the world dealing with third world problems. Replacing a typical profit-driven business model with one that put purpose before profits was a tough business case to sell around the board table.

Now, there’s ample evidence that shows that “doing well by doing good” makes perfect business sense, and is in fact, an approach that will create solid businesses that have the ability to stand the test of time.

What is a purpose-driven business?

The definition I always share comes from the book Conscious Capitalism: Purpose refers to the difference you’re trying to make in the world.

Purpose plays a big role into building strong brands and marketing them in a meaningful way.  From Seth Godin’s latest read, This is Marketing, he proposes that “Modern marketing is doing work that MATTERS for people WHO CARE”.  In Terry O’Reilly’s book This I know: Marketing Lessons from Under the Influencehe shares that the purpose of a company is likely found at that moment where the founder slammed his/her hand down on the table and declared …”there has to be a better way! In that moment is the best distillation of your why“.

Modern marketing is doing work that MATTERS for people WHO CARE
Seth Godin

Getting the the core

So how would you know if you’re building a purpose-driven business? In my experience, it comes from standing up, and boldly sharing your purpose through a brand story to see how it resonates with people. A short and compelling brand story starts with the background on why you were so fired up you ‘slammed your fist on the table’, followed by what you’re doing about it now and sharing your bold vision for the future.  With a recent cohort of entrepreneurs, when they stepped up to share their brand stories in the classroom, there were tears and there were moments when we all got choked up just talking about the inspiration behind their ventures.

These days, people are far more interested in why you are in the business you’re in and less motivated by the how and the what you’re offering. The more confidently you can share your original motivation for starting a business – that core purpose that gets you out of bed and motivated each day as an entrepreneur – the more more likely you’ll grow a business that matters for people who really do care about it.

FINDING INSPIRATION

If you have a idea for a business that you keep on the back burner simmering, learning from others and their motivations is a sure way to get your ideas in motion.

Start up pitch eventIn Whistler this week, a cohort of entrepreneurs will be pitching their business ideas for a chance to win start up seed funding. The businesses are related to authentic Indigenous tourism experiences and are rooted in a purpose that’s way beyond the bottom line.

Event Details: slcc.ca/events

Take a look at these resources to learn more about using business as a force for good:

bcorporation.net

bthechange.com

Helping business become a force for good

Harness the difference you want to make in the world

Want to create a marketing buzz? Link profits to purpose.

Indigenous Tourism Start up Program Launches in Whistler

SEA TO SKY PARTNERS CULTIVATE INDIGENOUS TOURISM IDEAS

Coming summer 2019, the Indigenous Tourism Start up Program (ITSP) is managed through the Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre (SLCC) in partnership with the Whistler Centre for Sustainability (WCS).  The ITSP builds off of the Squamish Lil’wat St’at’imc Business Start-up Program (2018) and the Social Venture Challenge that the Centre created in 2015 and ran for three years. These initiatives successfully helped kick start new social enterprises in the region, with forty-one enterprises having completed the programs to date.

This year the program will support new business start-ups for members from Indigenous communities in the Fraser Valley to Lillooet region, including, but not limited to: Squamish, Lil̓wat, Lower St’at’imc (N’Quatqua, Samahquam, Skatin, Xa’xtsa), Upper St’at’imc (T’it’q’et, Ts’kw’aylaxw, Xaxli’p, Tsal’alh. Se’k’welwas and Xwisten), Musqueam, Tsleil –Waututh, Sto:Lo, Tswawwassen, Kwantlen, Katzie, Kwikweltlm, and Shishalh Nations.

BUSINESS START UP COURSE AND PITCH EVENT

This program will focus on the development of an Indigenous tourism business concept and a business plan to support its launch. Using the Business Model Canvas as a template for identifying a clear value proposition, customer market, cash flow and revenue streams, participants will test their business concept and learn the tools to develop a full business plan. The program will include four two-day interactive and cohort-based classroom sessions, one-on-one mentorship, guest speakers, online learning, and mentor support. The full program takes place from September to November 2019, with a final juried pitch event in November.  Diana Mulvey from Seeds Consulting will lead two classroom sessions to guide learning on customer relationships, branding and marketing.

Thanks to funding from the BC Rural Dividend Program and Community Futures Howe Sound, all program costs, including accommodation and a travel allowance, are covered for the participants within the region identified. Participants from communities beyond the identified region will be reimbursed to a maximum travel allowance, and will also have costs of accommodation covered.

PROJECT GOALS

  • To encourage, support and inspire Indigenous tourism entrepreneurs in the development of their new business
  • To support a stronger culture of Indigenous-based entrepreneurship
  • To build confidence and capacity in areas pertaining to business planning, financial literacy, marketing, branding, relationship building, and more
  • To increase jobs and employment, and strengthen community-driven economic development

The deadline to apply is August 1, 2019.

DOWNLOAD THE APPLICATION DETAILS

 

Indigenous Tourism Start Up Program

Photo credit: Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre / Logan Swayze

Keeping Social Media Simple – a Facebook Live Chat

An inpromptu social chat with Catherine and Heather from Keep It Simple Social Media

In this Facebook Live chat broadcast by BeLive.tv, I chat with social media mavens Catherine Aird and Heather Clifford from Keep it Simple Social Media.

We cover three main topics:

  • Engagement Strategy: how to design two-way communications and engagement with your core target customers and clients
  • Advice for small businesses or start-ups: how to choose the best marketing approaches for your business with a strapped budget and limited resources
  • The evolution of marketing over the last decade: how to navigate the ever-changing world of marketing and what has stood out the most for an old-school marketer like myself

Let me know what you think! Tools like Facebook Live are new and exciting ways to engage with  your target audience in an easy and affordable way.

Want to learn more about these and other tools to effectively engage on Social Media? Sign up for one of Keep It SImple Social Media‘s Whistler workshops coming June 26:

Social Media Workshops in Whistler: June 26

Get your business ready for the summer! Join us at the Aava Whistler Hotel for a fun day of learning everything there is to know to take your business to the next level with social media.  Join us for the morning or the afternoon workshop, or both!

Find on more on our NEW and improved website:
Facebook & Instagram 101 & 202 + Photo and Video

 

B Corporation Community

Helping business become a force for good

By Michelle Ratcliffe

Make business easy – tune in to The Big Idea, a bi-weekly column from the Whistler Chamber showcasing a Whistler Business innovating in their sector.

It’s commonplace for the bottom line to define business success, but there is a growing global network of over 2,000 Certified B Corporations leading a movement to redefine success. These B Corps are for-profit companies certified by the nonprofit B Lab to meet rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency. 

Whistler’s Seeds Consulting is part of this global movement and Principal, Diana Mulvey believes that a healthy profit can be achieved parallel to progress for the planet and people. 

Mulvey has built a business that takes action on social and environmental issues. Working with companies that aim to do good for humanity and for the planet, her business helps growing enterprises define the difference they are trying to make in the world and market themselves, creating an inspiring identity that stands out. 

She believes that while already sitting at an impressive height, Whistler businesses have the opportunity to elevate their impact on the world.

“Whistler’s business community could be known not only as the best IN the world, but the best FOR the world,” said Mulvey. “I’m helping mobilize business owners to be a force for good and tackle social and environmental challenges in their industry.”

Planting Seeds with Purpose

As any gardener knows, even with seeds in hand, your work still requires a little digging before you can plant and nurture growth.  Seeds Consulting’s strategy starts with digging deep to find a client’s highest mandate.

“I’ve been helping clients uncover their higher purpose and get clear on why they are in that business,” explained Mulvey who says she shares the philosophy of author and corporate culture thought leader Simon Sinek, who teaches organizations how to inspire people by starting with “Why.”

“I Share Simon Sinek’s belief that people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it,” said Mulvey.

Once the “why” is clear, she can set sights sky high and map out the route to lift her client’s entrepreneurial ambitions to great heights. Clarity on a clients purpose empowers them to create an identity that rises above the noise, attracting the right customers and building brand loyalty.

Events Inspiring Action

Mulvey is a key fixture in the entrepreneurial community in Whistler – an inspiring group of innovative minds.

Her respected perspectives have led to collaborations with likeminded organizations and created events aimed at inspiring entrepreneurs to do good for their community.

“I’ve spoken at and introduced events in Whistler that encourage entrepreneurs to learn about and take on environmental and social problems,” she said.

In the last year alone, her hands-on help has seen her teach workshops for the Whistler Centre for Sustainability’s Social Venture Challenge, present on “how putting employees first boosts your brand” and at the Whistler Open Forum Speaker Series and collaborate with the Business Development Bank of Canada to bring a screening of “The Millennial Dream” documentary to Whistler accompanied by empowering discussion around different kinds of success in the new economy.

Confronting the Status Quo

In addition to speaking up with new ideas entrepreneurial events, Seeds Consulting connects with and empowers with their market online. The thought leadership exemplified by Mulvey on the Seeds Consulting blog offers an inspiring a dialogue for change, contributing valuable knowledge and resources to her community.

“I’m and avid blogger,” said Mulvey. “I use this platform to share ideas, confront the status quo, introduce best practices and build the business case to tackle social and environmental problems.”

Mulvey’s leadership is being felt throughout the resort where the number of businesses who are embedding social causes into their strategy is snowballing and her impact was recognized earlier this month, with Seeds Consulting honoured as a Finalist for “Sustainability in Action Business” at the 2017 Whistler Excellence Awards. Mulvey is helping shape a thriving local economy, from inspiring startup social ventures in their infancy to helping established organizations redefine an inspired brand identity. 

“Companies that are better for workers, better for communities, and better for the environment will lead the way and raise the bar for business success beyond the bottom line”

“Companies that are better for workers, better for communities, and better for the environment will lead the way and raise the bar for business success beyond the bottom line,” said Mulvey.  “I believe Whistler business owners have an opportunity to take on social and environmental problems and be recognized around the globe as being the best for the world.”

How putting employees first boosts your brand

If a company treats its employees well, what does that say about a brand?

Recent studies show that consumers are more likely to purchase from brands if employees are treated well. Further, they may even be willing to pay more and recommend the company’s products or services to friends. Should a business aim to bolster its brand through better worker policies and practices? If you’ve ever experienced the challenges of recruiting and retaining great people at your organization, a better question might be: can you really afford not to?

A study conducted in 2016 with Cone Communications  intereviewed 1,000 adults uncovering some compelling data on what motivates employees, and it’s not just about financial gain. About 85% were looking at making a meaningful difference through their career. About 76% were looking for meaningful personal experiences, such as meeting new people and exploring new places. Breaking down the survey data looking at the Millennial segment responses, a full 79% consider a company’s social and environmental commitments when deciding where to work. They are also more likely to be loyal when they feel they can make a positive impact on issues at work.

79% of Millennials consider social and environmental commitments when deciding where to work Click To Tweet

When a brand takes a stand and is not shy to share its environmental and social commitments, this goes a long way toward attracting and retaining great employees. It attracts consumers and influences their purchases. A study on global corporate responsibility showed that 84% percent of consumers consider a company’s social commitments, including employee treatment, before deciding what to buy or where to shop, and 82 percent consider them when it comes to which products and services to recommend to friends.

Leading Brands: B Corporation examples

To find examples of how leading brands put employees first, I looked at certified BCorps, a network of over 2,000 companies that aim to use business as a force for good. Assessed by a third party, these companies are ranked on their policies and actions related to governance, workers, community and the environment.

Beau’s All Natural Brewing, based just outside of Ottawa, has had incredible year-over-year growth since its inception in 2006. At its 10-year anniversary, the company announced that it would sell the brewery to its employees, shifting to 100% employee ownership. The company decided that keeping the operation independent and Canadian owned was important and it wanted employees to have a shared responsibility in the company’s future and plans for expansion across Canada.

Fairware provides promotional products to North America’s leading change makers. Every product meets the company’s strict environmental and social standards while manufacturers are held to a code of conduct. Fairware’s 12-person team is based in Vancouver and 100% of its employees are paid living wage. It also covers 80% of individual and family health insurance premiums. The company culture reflects its commitment to community and the environment. At its a bike-friendly office in a 100-year old building, the team hosts monthly collective lunches and happy hour with some of the local breweries around the corner in East Vancouver.

Outdoor retailer Patagonia was a pioneer in on-site childcare, being one of the first companies in California to offer it. It extends health care benefits to part-time, retail, and warehouse staff with 80% coverage of health insurance premiums for full-time workers. About 50% of full time employees participate in external professional development, an important incentive that encourages loyalty.

There is a strong business case for investing in your employees and going beyond the bare minimum mandated in our national and provincial employment laws. To build a respected and trusted brand that people love, you need to look within and ensure your employees respect and trust your organization.

Whistler Open Forum Event February 1

Learn more about how putting employees first boosts your brand at the February 1 Whistler Open Forum. Here’s what we’ll cover in this evening session:

  • Clarify how your brand is a reflection of your employees along with the benefits of building synergy between them.
  • How a ‘living wage’ impacts our local communities and why it is considered one of the best local economic development strategies businesses can implement.
  • Ideas on best practices for small and medium sized businesses that you can use to optimize your recruitment and training dollars for an effective retention strategy.

Don’t miss out on the chance to build a stronger brand. Register today.

Open Forum Event

REGISTER FOR THE WHISTLER OPEN FORUM

New social venture start-up program based in Pemberton gets ideas off the ground

Root Ventures NURTUREs entrepreneurs WITH FOOD OR ART-FOCUSED business CONCEPTs

At a kick off event last month, aspiring entrepreneurs crowded into the local coffee shop for a night of inspiration and networking with community members.  What brought them out for the evening was the prospect of putting their ideas into action. The Sea to Sky corridor has always been a draw for people who like to do things differently and make a living by their own set of rules so they can maximize their time in this beautiful place.  Based on the strong turn out, it is clear that there are plenty of good ideas buried in the fertile soils of the Pemberton Valley, and the time is ripe to get them off the ground.

In Canada, the start-up community has become a fast-growing movement from coast to coast. Incubators, design labs, catalyst programs and more have cultivated innovative and viable business ideas with the support from a network of mentors and fellow entrepreneurs.

The Whistler Centre for Sustainability is the champion for a unique program called Root Ventures that supports food and art-based start-up enterprises in the Pemberton Valley. In addition to having a focus on either food or art, the venture should generate some community benefit – whether it be for our environment or a social cause.  As a Certified BCorp, I’m thrilled to work with purpose-driven entrepreneurs and I’ll be teaching two learning sessions for the course.

Inspirational examples

At the kick-off event, the Whistler Centre hosted two successful entrepreneurs Dion Whyte and Jaye-Jay Berggen to share stories on how their businesses got off the ground and into a thriving and growing venture.

Persephone’s 11-acre farm-based brewery prides itself on producing the highest quality beer. It also grow hops, food and community at its farm just off the ferry terminal in Gibsons, BC. The company is a BCorp, a certification earned largely due to Persephone’s environmental initiatives and community partnerships. In addition to making really tasty craft beer, Persephone converts spent grain into compost, reuses waste water for irrigation, partners with locals growers and chefs to provide a hyper-local culinary experience and hosts numerous community fundraisers and events that brings its community together with visitors from afar.

Sea to Sky Soils supports local food production through cradle-to-cradle composting and closing the recycling loop. Its services help to remove organics from the landfill and this waste becomes nutrient-rich compost for area farms and landscaping projects.  Its founders have established many positive, long lasting relationships within the local First Nations communities who operate a highly efficient compost facility near Rutherford Creek just north of Pemberton. Its innovative system requires only a small infrastructure and is easily duplicated, so many other small communities across BC are consulting with Sea to Sky Soils to set up similar operations that divert waste from landfill.

Root Ventures Program Details

root-ventures-logo_sm-300x221Over the three-month program,  Root Ventures participants  will get assistance shaping their ideas into a business model canvas which maps out key elements for a viable enterprise. They will also receive one-on-one coaching with mentors and support to build capacity for their venture.

The program is open to entrepreneurs based in the Pemberton Valley.

The applicants must also be:

  • Solo entrepreneurs, non-profit organizations, cooperatives or small businesses
  • Aiming to create a community benefit through the enterprise
  • In the start-up phase of developing their business idea or concept
  • Committed to participating in the whole program starting in January through to March 2017

To apply for the program, eligible applicants need to complete an application and submit their idea to the Whistler Centre for Sustainability by January 8, 2017.

DOWNLOAD THE APPLICATION FORM