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"I love and admire CCEC as much as any organization in this neighbourhood.  I have always had my professional accounts here (Eastside Learning Centre, Car Free Days, the Purple Thistle, Groundswell as examples). CCEC is personal.  It is a living example of the best of alternative economic thinking - generous, hospitable, friendly and at the heart of the neighbourhood."

Most of you have heard about or participated in Vancouver’s Car Free Days.   Did you know that Matt Hern, CCEC Member is the person who initiated these festivals?  He opened an account at CCEC in the early 90’s for a project called Eastside Learning Centre.  He has lived in East Vancouver for his whole adult life and has long experience starting and running independent businesses.  Currently, in addition to teaching Urban Studies at SFU, Education at UBC and Community Economic Development in the Masters Program at Cape Breton University, he is launching a new project called, Groundswell Grassroots Economic Alternatives. www.ggea.ca

Groundswell is an alternative-to-business-as-usual school where 25 people under 35 years old spend eight months learning how to build cooperatives, collectives, non-profits, social businesses and a different way of doing business.   Matt says he was inspired by the good, smart young people in his neighbourhood that want to make an impact on the world with their projects, but are not sure of the route to take or have yet to see their projects come to full fruition.   After completing the 8 month Groundswell program, he sees the graduates emerging with a project that has been well researched and validated, a business plan and the personal confidence carry it through.   Matt feels there is a gap in the education system that will be filled by this program as these participants need to learn, in a cost-effective way, how to successfully launch a project where the primary impact is social, cultural or ecological.

Matt is looking forward to seeing what happens when the graduates are in the field with a different way of thinking and part of a larger collaborative network.   He says that in talking with people about his program, he is met both with skepticism and support.    The first program starts in September, 2013.   It is filling quickly so if you are interested, be sure to contact him.

CCEC is collaborating with Groundswell on this project providing loans to the students for their tuition which is on a sliding scale from $1,500 - $3,000.   Matt is inspired by the Bologna co-ops, the recovered factory movement in Argentina, Mondragon and the example of how a trade school and a bank are working together will help guide his partnership with CCEC.

For more information visit:  www.ggea.ca or contact Matt at matt@ggea.ca; 778.840.7055

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