Updates

Announcing: Social Entrepreneurship Scholarships for Newcomer Women

Announcing: Social Entrepreneurship Scholarships for Newcomer Women

Groundswell and Helder Ventures, an impact investment firm, are  partnering to offer scholarships for newcomer women to Canada to give them the confidence, skills, tools and space to find their unique gift and put it to work for themselves and for their community. Read more to apply and share the news!

Top 3 Things I Learned from Organizing an Event

Top 3 Things I Learned from Organizing an Event

The holiday season's the best time for fun, festive events! This is something Gina knows too well, being a known organizer of get togethers with family and friends.  

Halfway into the Groundswell social venture program, she decided to go out of her comfort zone to plan and bring to life an event for her bigger community: a Craft + Comedy Night in Chilliwack! Read on as she shares the top 3 things she's learned working on her premiere event.

Groundswell - A place to just be

Groundswell - A place to just be

I signed up for Groundswell in hopes of ending my 5 year-long quarter life crisis, to figure out what the heck it is that I want to do when I “grow up”.  Little did I know, that during the course of a few short months, I would be dealing with one personal crisis after another....

When things outside of my control kept taking away my energy from working on my project, I became very frustrated with myself - frustrated that I could not spend time on validating my ideas, stressed out when I was falling further and further behind my peers as they made progress with their ventures.

However, Groundswell has created a safe space for me to simply just be.  It is a space where not only are we coached with our business ideas, but also a place that allows us to grow personally, in our own pace, in our own way.  

Introducing the newest Groundswell cohort!

This year, the energy at Groundswell is compounded as we bring another cohort of eleven big hearted budding entrepreneurs to join the journey of social venture development alongside the cohort that started in September.

Welcome to the Groundswell Community!

Learn more about these fine folks in their own words, here

Farmily

by Robert Wallace Robert

 

 

 

Most people think that the planting part of a growing season takes place in the spring and summer. But I’ve recently learned that is not the case at all. Indeed one of the last crops we plant is Garlic! It’s an extremely low maintenance crop that yields one of our most popular and diverse plants. A garlic planting also holds a special significance for myself and my fellow farmers at UBC Farm because it’s basically the last thing we are going to plant together as a group this season.

My wife and I got accepted to participate in a cohort of the UBC Sustainable Agriculture Practicum. Check it out! They are now accepting applications and if you are interested in becoming a farmer but need some practical experience and hands on learning this is the program for you. I can not speak highly enough of it and feel an incredible gratitude for our opportunity to take part.

FarmilySince last March we’ve worked side by side with 10 other students and many staff, teachers, interns and volunteers to run a full fledged farm out at UBC. Most people don’t even know that a proper farm exists out there! To be fair it is one the best kept secrets in Vancouver. It's a beautiful space with a mandate for education and boy did we learn a tremendous amount about growing food this year. To celebrate and honour that learning we decided to do a garlic planting on our personal farm with some of our “Farmily” (shown above) participating. Some of them wanted to plant their own and so we made extra space for anyone who wanted to. It was a celebration to mark the ending of this growing season and the beginning of our own “UpBeet Farm” in the Upper Nicola valley. It’s always an amazing experience for us to bring people to our farm and show them why we decided to change our lives and become agrarians. The land is so incredible, we both felt we had to.

To plant the garlic we had to prepare the beds, rake them out, purchase the seed garlic, source mulch, dig the planting holes with a pick axe (you’ll see it in the video below), plant the seed and then insulate with mulch. All told it took us two weekends, and many laughs and stories. Here are some timelapse videos showing the amazing support we had and how we did it.

Farmers are incredibly social with work ethics to match. I could not be more blessed with willing hands on this project. The best part is they have to come back next summer to harvest their share with us! I can’t wait to harvest and taste our savoury, spicy treat!

It’s also bittersweet too, as I’ve just started at Groundswell recently and am getting to know my new classmates and undertake our new learning adventure there, my time at UBC Farm is winding down. It will be winter soon and we’ll be going our separate ways, getting other jobs, focusing more on school and planning our next farming season. This garlic planting has been symbolic of that transition. We get together and plant, let the miracle of the seed take hold, and reap the rewards of our planning and hard work down the road. I believe at Groundswell the same principles apply. We invest in ourselves, each other and our communities the same way farmers trust the seed and the earth, thus we create a beautiful present for everyone in the future.

And who doesn’t like some garlic right? :D

SOUP: the event, the recipe

by Amanda Slater, Groundswell member

It’s only been two weeks and I’m already feeling the effects of Groundswell.  From the second I said it out loud things started to happen.  You know what I mean, it’s like when you say what ever your desire is out loud, the universe starts to provide; otherwise known as the law of attraction.  And the universe was quick to provide for me.

Shortly after I had applied and been accepted I was invited to make soup for an event Groundswell was hosting called Vancouver SOUP.  A quick side note, I used to have a soup club, and soup is my favorite thing to make and eat! Oh and I pretty much get a high from feeding people.

So there I was, accepted into the program and making soup for Vancouver's first Vancouver SOUP crowdfunding event.  I couldn’t have been happier!

Now I should tell you I don’t follow recipes; I make them up as I go.  Even when I had my soup club and was making 30-40 liters I was making it up as I went along.  My partner would always say to me ‘but babe, how do you know if it’s going to be good’ I just knew, I guess I have a natural instinct (thanks mom!).  I always have an idea of what ingredients I’m going to use and the flavors I want but never staying within the lines of a recipe.  I love the freedom and creativity making soup gives me, a dash of this, a pinch of that.  And why not garnish with ruby chard instead of traditional herbs?

For Vancouver SOUP though I had to submit a recipe, they needed to know how much to buy.  This was a challenge and a great learning experience.  I decided I was going to make a Moroccan Chickpea & Vegetable soup.  I had a rough idea of how much ‘this and that’ I was going to need so I plugged it into the internet to convert it from 6-8 people to 60 people.  Sounds easy right?  Well all the converter did was multiply it, which I have now learned is not the correct way to increase a recipe.  I had enough of some vegetables and way too much of others. But when making soup for 60+people without an actual recipe too much of something is better then not enough.  With my mom by my side (she just happened to be visiting from N.S.) I proceeded to whimsically make Moroccan Chickpea & Vegetable soup for what I thought was going to be 60 people but had since found out was 82 people! It’s a good thing I almost always make too much, which is a risk I take not following a recipe.

The soup was dished out and the room filled with "Mmmmm’s" my heart grew large and the adrenalin pumped through me (I wasn’t kidding when I said I get a high from feeding people).

As the night wound down, bowls empty, bellies full I started to settle into my own fullness.  I looked around at my community, my tribe, with an overwhelming sense of belonging and excitement.  Groundswell’s walls wrapped around me like a warm hug.

Moroccan Chickpea & Vegetable Soup

I encourage you to find freedom and imagination in your cooking.  Here’s a loose recipe for you to experiment with ☺

  • Canned Chickpeas
  • Canned Tomatoes
  • Onion
  • Garlic
  • Vegetables – any kind you like!
  • Spices – smell your spices, imagine the flavors all coming together.  Now add a pinch of one and a dash of another!
  • Fresh herbs
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Water or broth

To get started add a splash of oil in your pot.  Once it’s heated up add onion and garlic.  Cook until tender or translucent.  Add your spices be playful and experimental. ☺ It’ll become paste like and fragrant – add your canned tomatoes and let simmer.  This is where you’re creating your flavor base for your soup.  Go on and taste it.  It should be quite strong in flavor, if it’s not then add more.  You want it to be quite strong as you’ll be diluting it when you add the rest of your ingredient and water or broth if you’re using broth.  Once you’ve got a good flavor base add your chickpeas, maybe another can of tomatoes, your chopped veggies and either water or broth.  Let is simmer until the vegetables are tender.  Taste as you go, add more spices if you like. ☺ When serving add fresh chopped herbs or greens.

The longer you let it simmer the better the flavor will be, and soup is always better the next day.

Getting to know the DTES on a Sunday morning

by Heather V.
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If you come into Groundswell Cafe you 

have to

 try the grilled cheese sandwich with tomato jam.

Amanda Kai, cafe manager and guru behind the cafe counter, gets all the credit for taking a basic lunchtime staple and making it so good I'm still thinking about it two days later.

There are plenty of other reasons of course why you should pop in to Groundswell; when not operating as a coffee joint, the room plays incubator to what will soon be some of Vancouver's newest social ventures.

And so our week began, getting right down to the gritty topics of social order, colonialism and intersectionality and scratching the surface of the history of the neighbourhood we will spend the next six months getting to know.

We were put into teams, given a map and told to go out and meet the neighbours, to see the existing social enterprises and organizations already doing some great work in the community. Samita and I partnered up but somehow wound up making our own route after a failed

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attempt to find coffee, but we were glad for it. First we hit Oppenheimer Park where we got a brief chance to speak with the founder of 

One More Time Charity

, Henning Nielsen as he and his team prepared to feed the hundreds who were already lined up. Oppenheimer Park has been a central spot for activism in Vancouver over the last century. Plaques situated around the neighbourhood profile key figures and give a snapshot into the protests and movements that have taken place there from citizens resisting the status quo.

We continued down Powell street through the bustling

DTES Street Market

, taking our time to see some of what was being sold. The season is about to wrap up for the market so it was busy and was tricky at times to walk without stepping on toes or wares! What a thriving business hub in the city!

Heading back up Hastings street, we stopped to peek inside the windows of 

Lost + Found cafe

 at the beautiful travel photos on its interior walls; it was then that we heard drumming and caught the reflection of an enormous dreamcatcher suspended from the side of a building next to a vacant lot across the street. We wasted no time getting over there! We met Muriel from the Lil'wat First Nation who told us that if we stayed we were welcome to participate in the powwow. Muriel advocates for the preservation of customs of Canada's Indigenous peoples and she does so by talking to interested people like us. Her parting words? "Now I have given you the story, now it is yours to go and share with others."

(Cool fact from Muriel: B.C. alone has 197 First Nations, each with its own dialect.)

On our way back to Groundswell we met two of the Street Thug Barbers who were stationed outside of the Living Room drop-in centre. These guys, who once led their lives on the streets and battled addictions, now spend their Sundays cutting hair for free. They are also raising funds to start a non-profit barbering school to give employable skills to those in need. Great initiative.

Support them

and check out their

Instagra

m.

Groundswell is truly something. It's a collective agreement when one cohort member says she feels she has found her 'tribe', We're thrilled to be here, eager to learn, excited to collaborate and bursting at the seams with ideas.

Pop in to the Cafe some time, chances are we'll be there. Order a grilled cheese sandwich too - you won't be disappointed.

Enter: Groundswell

Conlan_Photo  

Conlan is our first blog writer from the new cohort. He got a sneak peak into Groundswell in mid-August when he pitched his idea at the Idea Jam - and won!

 

 flourish trans blk

So concluded the final day of commencement, and with it, the culmination of four years of study at a small liberal arts university located in the Garibaldi mountain range.

The quote, a guiding theme in our commencement speech, was taken from Immanuel  Kant’s text “Answering the Question: What Is Enlightenment?” owing to our newly found release into the world at large.

The phrase concerns Kant’s belief that we must all sapere aude, or “dare to know”, in the   midst of a world that continues to present us with dogmas and ideologies for easy and slick consumption (and that’s a quote from 1784, mind you). Autonomy, a core principle   of Kant’s philosophy, is dependent on the individual’s use of reason and the courage to think for oneself, rather than simply following ideologies out of tradition, pressure, or dogma.

Whether or not one agrees with Kant’s assessment of the human condition or my attempts to render his works in gender-neutral language, the phrase begs the question:

... what comes after the “release”?

questThe liberal arts university I attended – and perhaps all such institutions or ideologies –  can be likened to a scaffold that allows us to create in the midst of an established,  recognized structure. While my alma mater is certainly atypical when compared to many,  it remains an institution that attempts to provide the tools, infrastructure, and resources to support intellectual development and personal cultivation.

The context of this quote is such that, after graduating, we’re expected to be developing the courage and means to utilize our own sense of reason in the course of our continuing education, personal development, and return to the broader human community. After all, that’s what the liberal arts are supposed to be: the tools considered essential for a free   person to successfully participate in civic society... Right?

Well, not entirely false, but not particularly helpful when one also needs to eat and live in a patriarchal-21st century-capitalist-state whose existence is sustained by the status quo.   While that much may not have changed since Kant’s time, neither has it become much easier to survive in such a world.

This is where I found myself at the beginning of this Summer: with a degree in the liberal  arts and four of the best years of my life under my belt, with relentless and undying passion, and with a strong desire ameliorate social suffering to the best extent I’m capable...but with neither means nor community with which to do so.

At this point, many naturally ask: “So, how exactly did you find out about Groundswell?”

In times of doubt, listlessness, or pathos, it can be difficult to see the potential for possibility or growth in adverse circumstances. Often, we treat these experiences as evidence of an innate deficiency in the “self”, feel unable to see any sound alternatives,  and resign ourselves through cynical fatalism to the shadows of our reality. At the very  least, we often feel incapable of dealing with what feels like an impossible number of   feelings, expectations, judgements, responsibilities, and obligations that beset us in the modern world, and are consequently paralyzed by the responsibility inherent in  structuring our own narrative.

In such times it can be difficult to see these experiences as teaching tools: opportunities for understanding reality and the ways we respond – mindfully or otherwise – to our own incursions into desire, attachment, and aversion. However, it is in these moments, states educator Paulo Freire, that “men and women develop their power to perceive critically the way they exist in the world with which and in which they find themselves; they come to see the world not as a static reality but as a reality in the process of transformation."

Not always entirely pleasant, mind you... but since when did real growth come from being comfortable all the time?

Dreading the reality of working in a city whose minimum wage is less than half the living cost, I discovered Groundswell during one of many attempts to turn tears into seeds: how could I actualize my dreams of an inner-city gym and learning centre for marginalized   youth – and manage to eat, shelter, and clothe myself in the process?

Having developed an exuberant love for research that only the Liberal Arts can inspire, I promptly proceeded to dig up as much information as I could on this program and its collaborators. No video, article, or website was left unturned as I searched for more –  could this community really be what I think it is? A group of engaged and innovative thinkers, artists, iconoclasts, and visionaries who facilitate the genesis and implementation of dreams into reality – and might they be interested in helping me do the  same? 22120_10152796167786921_5177860881791287234_nEnter Gilad, Emily, and Paola, my first point of contact with the Groundswell community, whom I subsequently met at an open house. While I was familiar with the bulk of information presented (I love research, remember?), I was stunned by the warmth, clarity and dedication these three presented – they actually practice what they preach, and what they preach indeed!

Needless to say, one open house was enough to convince me to return. By the time I participated in Groundswell’s Idea Jam, I was determined to join the program at all and any cost.

For those who were unable to attend, earlier this Summer Groundswell had hosted an  “Idea Jam” – an opportunity for interested community members to gather, share, and critique one another’s potential project ideas with the opportunity to win a mentoring  package. icecreamjam poster

I was privileged to attend, and had the honour of presenting my idea to the larger group after several rounds of discussion and voting.

Presenting first, I outlined my ideas for the transformative power of movement, the need for greater youth services in B.C., and the stunning success of groups like Inner City Weightlifting to inspire and uplift youth in the heart of darkness. I was blessed to take questions, hear great feedback, and be party to numerous engaging and unique ideas throughout the evening. I left the Idea jam with a mentoring package in hand and the unshakable optimism that this was simply a taste of what was to arise in the coming few months.

Perhaps, in addition to Kant, enlightenment is also as the Buddha saw it: learning how freedom is to be found in letting things go.

Nibbana, the Pali word commonly translated as “enlightenment”, literally means an “unbinding” akin to the extinguishment of a flame. In the Buddhist tradition, fire is said to be a metaphor for desire, aversion, and delusion, the extinguishment of which represents freedom from suffering. When a fire lets go of its fuel – that is, when it’s no longer fed – it no longer burns. Just as fire goes out when it ceases taking sustenance from fuel, one is released from agitation, entrapment, and dependence when one ceases to engage in craving and attachment. Far from simply an extinguishment, however, nibbana represents a path to freedom that we must actively walk, in the process abandoning ideologies, scaffolds, and paradigms that no longer serve our aims, dreams, or goals.

To me, Groundswell represents this stage in my journey: a release from the self-imposed tutelage of a liberal arts university into a place of freedom. A space and a place to let go of “business as usual” and to create anew amidst a world of suffering. A time to challenge, to question paradigms, and to thirst for new knowledge and insight.

In this sense, transitioning into Groundswell is less an extinction of the old as it is a genesis of the new – a glimpse of freedom into the transformative reality we can and will create together. And, just like practicing the Dharma, a supportive and creative community is essential for authentic growth along the path. With Groundswell, I’m confident that I’ve found such a community and greatly look forward to the honour of spending the next six months  together.

Conlan

Introducing our new (superhero) cohort!

I am proud to introduce our new group of superheros (click for bio's & photos!) who just came together for the first time with a Groundswell Kick-Off Weekend. We shared  good food (and Gilad's mediocre soup ;-)), warm hugs and sunny walks in the DTES; exploring ourselves, each other, and the neighbourhood.

What excites me most about this cohort is how I can already see a deep community forming; a family, if you will, as Heather signed: It is obvious to me that this cohort is a true personified reflection of Groundswell's core values:

ACTION COLLABORATION CREATIVITY & INNOVATION ENVIRONMENTAL, SOCIAL & ECONOMIC JUSTICE

They are all so eager to CREATE! and I can see the great ideas bubbling and the compassion spreading and growing among all of us already. I invite you to come see it too, in our upcoming potlucks, guest speaker series, and finally, the social enterprises and projects that will be created over the next 6 months and presented at our Showcase Gala in March 2016.

A bit about what went down this past weekend: First, a BIG thank you to our Community Coordinator Emily for designing the Kick-Off weekend and for our special guests: Oona Krieg who led us through a personal, though-provoking anti-oppression workshop, where we opened our eyes and situated ourselves in the bigger picture of the often hidden systemic forces of our society. Curtis Rattray, a member of the Crow clan and Nalokoteen (end of the ridge nation) of the Tahltan Nation.  His Tahltan name is ‘Ninth Glun adz’.  Curtis runs W.I.L.D  Wholistic Indigenous Leadership Development , a unique Indigenous leadership development approach based on aboriginal culture and values.  Curtis also presented us the beautiful film Colours of Edziza, which tells a story of two leaders from very different backgrounds (including Curtis himself) who find a deep connection to each other and the land on a grueling journey through the remote and rugged mountains of Northern BC.

Sarah Peacock (Groundswell alumna!) and Tad Hozumi from Another Space hosted us in their beautiful studio, full of light and peace and crafty things.    Tad immersed us in straight up fun, with movement, colours and textures - both seen and unseen (ask us more about that...) and had us touch our emotions a little bit too.

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Sparks were flying when alumni Mary Rose Dapiton and Billy Koruna came in to share their Groundswell story and their projects:  Mary's home care worker's co-op and network, Humanity Together, and Billy's information design service for communicating complex social issues & ideas and wicked graphic art, databaseprojects.ca

What a network!  I can't wait to see what this community can do next....

- Paola Qualizza

impact IDEA JAM & Ice Cream! August 13th @ 7pm

Happening: Thursday, August 13th @ 7:00Groundswell Café & Clubhouse, 566 Powell St. Reserve your seat: ideajam2015.eventbrite.ca

icecreamjam poster

There are plenty of good ideas out there that could make this world a better, more equitable, cleaner, greener, happier place - and we are here to help you realize them!

Groundswell is opening it's doors to the public for this event that will let YOU share your great ideas with others who want to make change in this world anhd in your community. We are looking for ideas for projects, ventures or products that can be created by an individual or group and that create a positive impact: whether that be reducing waste and increasing creativity, employing people with barriers to employment, or providing healthy, accessible food. 

But we don't just want to talk about great ideas, we want to put them into ACTION!

How?

0 - Come to the Groundswell clubhouse, 566 Powell St. at 7:00 pm on Thursday, August 13th.

1 - You can share your ideas in small groups - or just listen to the great ideas in the room.  Get some feedback, give some feedback, learn a little, find supporters.

2 - Then, up to two ideas per group will be nominated to be presented to the entire room.  Those ideas will get another round of feedback from our team of expert mentors and the audience.

3 - Finally, one idea - the most feasible, the one with the most impact, and the one with the most dedication behind it - will get voted to the top to WIN a mentoring package with Groundswell's Social Venture Start-Up program & team!

....and eat ice cream!

So, got an idea or want to see what is simmering in people's brains, waiting to be unleashed? Get your ticket (free or donate to support the movement!) and come on down to the Groundswell clubhouse on August 13th!

RSVP here: ideajam2015.eventbrite.ca Email: communications@groundswellcommunity.ca with any questions

The 2015 Showcase Gala: the method, the matrix, the montage

The year end Gala marks the threshold for our projects.   Over the last 5-8 months we have envisioned how we could make a difference in our communities and how we could reshape the economic logic and landscape of Vancouver.  These ideas and actions have resulted in the ventures shared with you, the greater community, with presentations and displays on May 6th, in our beautiful home (and café!) at 566 Powell St.  Check out more photos below! We are riding a great wave of change: the packed cafe during the Gala night was indicative of the growing support of this movement. Groundswell is living proof that Vancouver is ready and moving towards a new, socially and environmentally just economy!

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As you may well know, we do things differently here, that's why we developed the Groundswell Social Venture Matrix which was used to showcase the variety of projects at the Gala.

matrix

Why a matrix?

The Groundswell process is designed to help you find the best vehicle and revenue model for your idea, so that you can create the type of impact in your community that you envision. Feasibility is key whether it is a co-op, non-profit, community contribution company or sole proprietorship. Launching any of these requires a range of resources or income that some have access to and others don't. The Groundswell Social Venture Matrix is a framework through which various concepts that are birthed and matured through months of ideation, refining and planning here, can be contextualized. Even though we move as a cohort, supporting one another, growing and learning together, not everyone moves at the exact same pace or needs the exact same resources. This matrix provides a comfort zone for showcasing what your idea is, and where it is in the startup process, so you can pitch with confidence about exactly what it is you need and want moving ahead.

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What's next at Groundswell?  Check out upcoming events and the programs starting in September 2015!

 

 

Q: What is "alternative-to-business"?

 Not a one word answer, that's for sure.  The complexity of the answer is dealt with on a regular basis at Groundswell.   In fact, it's mostly answered with more questions, for example:  How is what we're doing -  alternatives-to-business -  different from what other social entrepreneurs are doing? How does social innovation fit in - and what does that really mean?  Is there such a thing as too alternative or not alternative enough? How much impact do I have to - or can I - make?Another answer we give is not in the form of words, it's our projects, spanning scales and sectors, our personal gifts to the world.   
We also answer with a lot more feeling than "business" is used to:   Just that word puts me off.  It makes me feel _______ , or even *%@#*&!$!!!  Tears, laughter, spontaneous beat boxing and dance moves, inspired and supported by the community we do this in.  If Groundswell can do anything, it can create a safe place where all questions and feelings are given space and attention.

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But one thing we acknowledge here is that change happens - needs to happen - at all scales, and in many different ways.  Inside, and outside, yourself.  That how you do something matters more than what you do.

Here is a crowdsourced blog post from the Groundswell cohort and team answering the question: what do think alternatives-to-business is?  

What is it?
Business to me is the exchange of goods or services. alternatives to business would be just giving. Burning Man comes to mind when I think of alternatives to business. Giving to give. 
What do you think it means?
I think more so think of alternative "approaches" to businesses. What I WANT it to mean is "compassionate businesses". Honest exchanges.
Currency can be other products and services. Historically, money was anything from salt to labour. Money is a human societal construct. It's not bad nor good. It's just part of the current system. Why hate it? It's us, the people, behind our held currency that dictates how it is used. So if we don't like something, let's change the root of the problem - us. 
What do you think it is?
What do you feel it should be?
I feel that business should be honest, beneficial to the everyone including the environment, caring and fulfilling of needs for the world as a whole. I also believe everyone has the right and space for their own interpretation. Business should feel good and not icky like oil spills.  
What you are doing to build it?
Hopefully helping others build more honest, compassionate businesses (compassionate to themselves and others). Building my own businesses to be honest and compassionate. 
What does it look like?
A long luminescent string of spaghetti. 
- Tiffany S.

Fearlessly self-reflective, Recklessly compassionate,

Celebrations of our ability to create joy, abundance, and love.

Endlessly in process, yet

Certain of our capacity to organize for equality, inclusivity, diversity, regenerative ecologies, healing and vitality.

They are Hope.
~ Stuart H.
Creatively negotiating the maelstrom of boredom, uniformity and staleness that is Capitalism.
~ Kim D.V.G.
Mutual aid and community care.
~ Kelsey C.
The Surrey Youth Space borrowing from the Vancouver Tool Library with a Modo car?
-Spencer R.
Taking time for our individual selves to heal from what it is we find ourselves in.
 
Meeting people where they are at....providing a safe, welcoming space for people to come and create meaningful work.
~ Jocelynn R.
Hopefully this isn't too academic sounding, but when I think of alternatives to business I think of the opening of space, both physical and literal, for a different kind of energy to flow--into our economy, our daily relations, our literal spaces and places where alternatives themselves are lived, rather than only imagined. An alternative path is not one where we see the end, or have control over the finished product. It's driven by an ethos that acknowledges we need to begin where we are, and hope that our contribution allows for ourselves and others to live better.

Or something like that, anyway.

~ Chris N.
Radically shifting how we think about profit - what constitutes it, how we create it, who benefits from it
Working together to minimize our blind spots
Being prepared to be wrong… learning to shift and grow from this
Bringing joy and love to all that we create and do!
 - Emily H.
Reimagining what is possible, going there, pulling others with us by showing the way, calling them in.  Putting humanity back into flows of exchange by incorporating design principles from nature: resilience, self-regulation, strong healthy networks, resource sharing, creativity, cycles, adaptive flow, just distribution of resources...

Increasing other types of capital besides financial: social, living, material, cultural, spiritual, natural, intellectual, experiential and place capital. 
- Paola Q.
What do you think? #alt2biz @groundswellYVR

Creating Space to Just Be

- Don't try to fix the world. If you and me are fixed, the world will be fine. -Sadhguru

I heard this quote from a video not too long ago, and it spoke to something deep in me that I’ve been coming back to for quite some time now. This understanding that we, indeed, have all the technology we need, we have all the tools and resources we need, in short, we have ‘everything’, everything ‘outside’…. what we (and I’m speaking as a whole now, not specific to the Groundswell cohort) need is that individual, internal awakening, that individual healing…And I do truly believe that until we can cultivate that inside each and everyone one of us, to take the time, and space, whatever necessary to get there… until we do so, we will keep perpetuating what we see today, we will keep coming up against walls, and our ego’s will dominate. And when we, ourselves make time for that, we make it easier for others to do the same, which is something our rational minds cannot necessarily fathom.

We explore the depths of where technology can take us, but do we explore the depths of our own beings? If not, at what cost?

I think a lot about how that comes about, this ‘awakening’ in each and every one of us. And, I don’t mean to glamorize it or commodify it, because that is happening too... so perhaps I should explain what I mean by the word awakening also recognizing that all of it, even the word itself is beyond words…. And everyone will have a different meaning, and word and that’s okay too, but I shall try to explain where I am at with it, such that we can be on the same page.

To me, it is the deep recognition, beyond verbage, beyond the mind, and into the body - that we are all one, that while  I appear to be in my own body, “separate” from you, that this is simply not true. That what I do ultimately and deeply affects you, and what you do affects me too; as Charles Eisenstein elegantly rephrased the Golden Rule As you do unto others, so you are doing unto yourself. That until we truly embody this understanding - that we are so deeply interconnected, and dependent on each other for our survival and that we need to cooperate, not compete (indeed this is what mother nature does)….we will continue to inflict pain on others as we try to “do the right thing”, or maybe we’re still in an endless pursuit of success, money, and fame… in these moments we are letting the ego take hold. Wherever we are in our journey, all of this needs to fall away before we can truly co-exist as a species in harmony with everything else.

It’s love, and it’s letting love embody oneself. It’s stepping outside and feeling immense gratitude for the sun shining down, feeling the energetic presence of the trees, the grass, the birds, the insects, and our neighbor passing by on the sidewalk and sharing in conversation with them. It’s realizing that everything is perfect and we had all we needed all along, inside each and every one of us. That all we need to be is love.

I have moments where this feeling is indescribably intense and it’s these experiential moments that help me to articulate it further what I’m trying to say, and that help hold me in this story of interbeing, as its easy to get pulled back into the chaotic ego-infused state out there.

Everyone is so incredibly different (and yet so similar); we are all affected by things differently, and we all have our own individual moments of awakening; some are quick, some are slow, some are neither and go beyond the binary expressions in this world of ours. I ponder a lot about how it emerges in others. vision board collagesLast week we had an opportunity to come together and let our creative brains work for a bit, give our logical, analytical sides a break – we did vision boards. At the end we went around to share what we had done and what I found lit a spark in my soul was the realization that….we, as a cohort, while fairly similar in our convictions as what drew us to Groundswell appears to all have similar threads at the roots, we all produced such beautifully unique pieces. . . it made me think of snowflakes, so seemingly similar and yet so wonderfully unique, each in their own beautiful way, inside and out. I thought about how both of those things can be used synergystically. How we, as humanity, can continue to be our unique selves, and yet come together under a common narrative, a narrative that goes beyond cultures, beyond genders, beyond borders, beyond whatever traditional means we’ve used to separate ourselves….we’re all here, together, on this one and only planetary home.

Somedays…actually, most days…I don’t really know what is going on, or what’s to happen to us, collectively, on this planet. Things are messy, and life is pretty insane right now, truly. Sometimes I just want to stand at the top of a building and yell as loud as I can hoping people will hear and snap out of ‘it’. If I get in my head I get worried, stressed, feel helpless and scared. But when I tap into the place inside me that goes deeper than all of that, which is hard to describe using words, I feel a sense of peace, harmony, and a deep knowing that despite everything, it’s all going to be okay, we’re all okay.

I’m trying to make more space for that, to sit with that space so it can re-energize me and allow me to continue, so that the ego isn't always the dominating force; such that I can get out of my head and into my body.

Our bodies are insanely intuitive, and have many gifts to offer us when we work as one (both within our bodies, and together as a humanity), not as a separated mind-only unit. I just want to clarify too (and I have to do so because of the current dominating narrative we live in) this doesn't mean that I sit around and “enjoy” because I feel everything’s going to be all right…. of course right in front of me I see many injustices…but it’s taking time to cultivate space for that energy to take shape, to heal the pain of being in the mind a lot, and to allow for different outlooks, perspectives, and guidance. Making this space allows me to continue to transform, and without that underlying piece, that deep knowledge, awareness, sensation of truth….I’m not sure I’d be able to continue.

buttonsI see a lot of doing in GS in this second semester, which I understand. Which is important, as long as the doing is in alignment with our utmost inner core/truth/being (however you wish to word it), and is not simply a “going-through-the-motions”. However, I also want to allow for space to just be, if that is where we are. I know I’ve brought this up in class a lot…but here I go again. ☺ Our hyper-speed to-do world can make us feel like nothing if we’re not doing…but non-doing is incredibly empowering, and brings with it its own truth. (And just to be clear, I don’t mean non-doing as in…sitting around hanging, in ignorance…I mean accepting that maybe right now, we simply don’t know, and allowing space for being with that and let that guide us). We’ve been through a lot, beyond even our present life-time….. while most of us are relatively young, we are part of a history of many many years, and it’s all deeply interconnected, that energy continues on, builds upon itself. When we take the time upfront to make that space, what emerges is something greater than we’d have ever thought possible.

Let us remember, we, individually, inside, need to heal before the whole world can heal; as what is outside is but a reflection of what resides inside each and every one of us. To sit, to be....It's okay to not have all the answers.

Written by Jocelynn Rodrigues,  Groundswell participant

 

 

Impressive Neighbours *photo essay*

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This week Groundswell heard from two local social venture entrepreneurs, Shelley Bolton of East Van Roasters and Megan Branson of Olla Urban Flower Project. The businesses have been remarkable successes both commercially and critically while working towards some truly laudable social and environmental missions. Both Shelley and Megan’s stories were inspirational, and following are some key takeaways from their presentations. Adam's blog

Both women planned from the beginning that good works and social justice would be important factors, while ultimately the business’ success would come from being strong business managers. Solid business plans helped secure funding, and market research was used to identify unfilled niches within their market segments.

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The businesses practice socially and environmentally responsible sourcing of their goods and materials, and they are able to produce high quality, sought-after products. Both have been effective in communicating their social missions to the public and media. They have been able to provide jobs and skills development for people with barriers to employment through a real commitment to that end.

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Through the expected and unexpected problems faced by new businesses, the main factors  that kept things moving forward were perseverance and a willingness to try unconventional approaches to problem solving. Commitment to their social and environmental missions provided the inspiration to work through these challenges.

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It became clear from hearing the stories of both women that adhering to their social and environmental principles often made starting and running their businesses more challenging, but neither was swayed from these principles.

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It was empowering to hear their stories of success, and to learn of two great examples of social ventures that are really making a difference in their communities. My heartfelt thanks go out to both Shelley and Megan for taking the time to share their stories with Groundswell.

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Adam O’Neill The photos in this post were taken on my walks to and from Groundswell between January 5th and 14th 2015.

 

Caloused senesence

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Caloused senesence by

Mary Dapiton

Browsing through time, I have come to realize that the truth you resist is the battle you fight. Ultimately, I never thought growing could hurt this much. Remaining tight in a bud could be excruciating but the harrowing experience could never supersede the sweet embrace of a blossom. I believe it is imperative that at any moment, I should be able to forfeit and surrender what I am for what I can become.

I was driving along Garden Bay Road today and was taken in awe by the marvel of the panorama. The trees arched together like sabers inclined to meet at each point to give away a drama of incredulity. Leaves sporadically strewn alongside the road, painting it like a promenade. As I drove through, at one moment, I stopped breathing and felt my eyes closing as the waft autumn air kissed my face. It was beautiful.

Sometimes, I often wonder, just because things are different do they necessarily mean things have changed? Why are we so afraid of it anyway? Going down that lane again on winter would be utterly different and unsightly but it would certainly be the same road. They say, things do not change. We do. Finding that truth is not much of a feat for me. Seasons may change but each time I go down that same road, it changes me.

Remarkably, life is very much like that. I mused at the falling leaves and admire the wisdom of their reality. The leaves, brown as they are, hued with different shades, mark a generosity that reminds me of how I should be living life. They fall for a reason. The trees have to let them go to live through the austere and cold winter.

An ideal epitaph of altruism.

Indeed, some leaves cling to the trees waiting for the wind to blow them away. Espousing the tragic fall, their story never ends there. Far more than enriching and perfecting the soil below, they bequeath me an explicit endowment of an extraordinary vista of life.

As I passed through the leaves today, I have come to the truth that time changes everything.

But as Andy Warhol elucidated, “ You actually have to change them yourself.”

Groundswell is the season that changes me, forcing me to let go of my leaves to survive the austere winter. It will continue to nurture change until my blossoms will remind the  world that there is nothing more glorious and noble than visiting that sacred part of ourselves that remains unchanged to discover the ways in which we have grown to become. After all, Ghandi wishes for all of us to be the change we want to see in this world.

How do we achieve community power?

How do we achieve community power? This is a key question for the survival of Groundswell. The success of the Groundswell project (program? school? movement?) will be measured in our ability to sustain not just ourselves, but each other.

In three years time, I want to be able to sit on a couch with people from Groundswell and cry. I hope to laugh, grieve and scheme with you all in the years ahead.

That's what it will take to for me to stick around. It's what gets me out of bed to go to school in the morning, and it's what would motivate me to build something together that lasts.

I dream of Groundswell — every student and staff member of this program — being able to access many different categories of power. Collaborative power. Emotional power. Obstructive power. Structural power.

God knows we need it.

I didn't go to school the day Mike Brown's murderer was acquitted. What was the point? I went to a vigil instead.

2014 will be remember as the year that the ongoing genocide of black people stopped having any trace of subtlety. Black men, black women (especially black trans women) are being murdered in staggering numbers by police, by vigilantes, by private security guards. There is seldom a breath of repercussion for those murders.

The Klu Klux Klan has made a re-emergence as an almost mainstream political voice. Every day there are more news stories of police officers in Ferguson and beyond who are part of the "ghost squad:" police officers who are secretly Klan members.

This all sounds like the shadowy youtube clips with creepy music talking about the lizard people illuminati. I wish this was a conspiracy theory I could laugh off.

We're not as distanced from this in Vancouver as we might like to believe. Anti-blackness remains a prominent force here (look up the destruction of Hogan's Alley). Besides, how can we distance our society from police violence when the Vancouver police are active agents in the ongoing genocide of indigenous people?

I feel like I should scrap this whole blog and write something more uplifting, just focusing on Groundswell and how incredible the people there are. I'd like to read that. I feel numb.

The new economy. Social enterprise. These buzzwords will remain play-tools of the capitalist class, unless they can truly transform the economy based not on white, middle class liberal values, but on values of need. The need as a black or indigenous person to not be killed by police. The need to be able to walk at night as a trans or cis woman without harassment or violence.

The alternative economy will be intersectional or it will be bullshit.

At 566 Powell St, there are Christmas lights, candles, ripped up Mandarin orange peels hanging from the ceiling. We might not be talking about projects today, but they're on our minds.

The safety and sensitivity of Groundswell, the friendships that deepen every time we sit down to eat together, these are buds of a gentle community power.

In five years, we could have a loosely organized network of community based organizations. Some of us will be upcycling materials. Some of us will be running alternative schools. Maybe Vancouver will look different. Maybe there will be a daylighted stream running through the city.

Hopefully we'll be making enough money from our projects to live on.

When we want to do something about housing, about gentrification, we will have the community power, trust and skills to do something tangible.

For me, Groundswell will be a success if we can get 300 of us up to Burnaby Mountain — or whatever the site of environmental resistance happens to be — at a day's notice. That's obstructive power.

We're not an overtly activist school. Or if we are, it's not in the way activism is commonly understood. While everyone who comes to Groundswell wants to see an alternative to capitalism as it currently runs, there are still a diversity of view points. I don't want that to ever change.

But I do want us to have a sense of urgency when it comes to the struggles of others. When the next Ferguson happens, how can we provide meaningful economic solidarity? We might look to the relationships of horizontal solidarity between revolutionary Latin America and Vancouver based groups in the 70s and 80s for inspiration.

Between the uprisings in Ferguson, Burnaby Mountain and New York, there is a revolutionary movement of marginalized people being built. We should know where we will we stand in relation to these movements.

As Gilad said to me, neither of us really care that deeply about the economy. We care about social things. The economy is just a tool we can use to try to create alternatives, try to create jobs, try to create power.

These connections we're building every week are beautiful and nourishing. In writing this blog, I'm not trying to push us harder than we can stretch. We often need to be gentle with ourselves, and if that means creating small, self-sustaining, interesting projects that's great.

I think it would be a good plan to put some thought towards Groundswell's Utopia though. Let's talk about forming all our projects into one umbrella co-op. Let's talk about how we're going to stop the cafe from being a gentrifying force. Let's talk about our visions for the space and for each other. That's what excites me.

- Sasha, Groundswell participant, Fall 2014