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The prevalent economic development practice is ineffective, unaffordable and in need of a makeover.  In his book, The Local Economy Solution, Michael Shuman suggests an alternative where cities nurture a new generation of enterprises that help local businesses launch and grow.  These “pollinator businesses,” create jobs and the conditions for economic growth, and are doing so in self-financing ways.

Two years ago, CCEC partnered with like-minded organizations to present a conversation with Michael Shuman speaking to his book, “Local Dollars, Local Sense – How to Shift Your Money from Wall Street to Main Street”See the blog   So, what's new? 

In his new book, he says, “A growing number of small, private businesses are facilitating local planning and placemaking, nurturing local entrepreneurs, helping local consumers buy local and local investors finance local business."  These functions are performed by “pollinators”.  They are locally-grounded, and succeed by building local support in pursuit of the shared goal of revitalizing the local economy.

Shuman feels that the traditional “economic development” model of chasing after large companies with huge taxpayer subsidy deals is the wrong way to revitalize a crippled or stagnant local economy.  He says, “economic development today is creating almost no new jobs.” 

There is another far more promising path.


At CCEC, your investments and funds give us the capacity to provide business loans to your neighbours who are creating “pollinator businesses”.  Refer friends and co-workers to CCEC.  Think of us when you are buying a home, renovating, going back to school or (fill in the blanks)!


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Is it time to create a co-operative biochar and fuel model that could serve across sectors in East Vancouver?  With the Level 4 drought, water-wise gardening ideas sprouting and more lawns growing food, let’s meet CCEC member, Randi-Lee Taylor, owner of Simply Barefoot Garden Service, the old school hand-tooled cargo trike riding gardening artisan.  See blog for more information on biochar.

Randi-Lee doesn’t call herself a landscaper, even though she does that, and says, “My heart and practice is akin to community gardeners, xeriscaping (landscaping and gardening that reduces or eliminates the need for supplemental water from irrigation). and permaculture with an emphasis on esthetics.”  Riding ‘the Big Luna’, her affectionately named cargo trike, and using old-school hand tools, she brings these practices into her clients’ gardens.  As an artisan, she converts passive lawn space into active gardens – imagine a potager garden with lovely pathways, accents of roses, lavender, topiary and a perhaps an espalier.  Last year, one of her gardens, The Mirror Garden, was chosen for the East Van Garden Tour


Why I’m a member of CCEC:

“CCEC does what it does because that is just who they are.  And maybe therein lies the difference.  CCEC is a “who” and ‘how” kind of place, the others focus on the “what, when and how much.  It just makes sense to have the biggest portion (of money) in the hands of folks who share the same values.  When I decided to start my own business it helped that I already had CCEC.”


The name, Simply Barefoot comes from paintings by Sarkis Katchadourian illustrating the Rubiyat of Omar Khannam with women walking barefoot through lovely gardens sharing food and wine in Paradise.  She says,”At the end the day, a garden is worth a stroll and best had barefoot.  Those are the kinds of gardens I want to create and maintain.”

So, what is biochar and why does it make sense?  With the Stage 4 drought and the impact on her business, Randi-Lee has been researching the biochar industry and the feasibility of a local installation.   She says that when she creates her gardens, for the most part, it includes removing huge sections of lawn.  The City doesn’t allow sod in the green waste so the disposal goes into the landfill or to private sites,  with the potential to transfer invasive species like chafer beetle and fire ants.  She has taken sod and, over time, worked it into a growing patches in back yards.  However, this doesn’t work for a front yard.  It can be as expensive to dispose of sod properly as it is to install the garden – fees anywhere from $300 to $800.  She says, “When the goal of gardening is sustainability, it is a hard pitch to argue that a $1500 dollar veggie garden is a money saver – that’s a lot of lettuce for some folks.”   And, when you consider the City is encouraging, through its’ Greenest City Action Plan for our community to be growing more food and turning lawns into food, we need to come up with a cost-effective options and ways to make this easy for our neighbouhoods.

In her research on how garden businesses in the Northwest are altering their services due to the heat, she has found that some States offer lawn removal rebates (up to $ 5000) to homeowners. She feels that while this is great for garden services, local businesses and for water retention, she finds it to be hit and miss on the esthetics.  She says, “Water-wise gardening should never be understood as anything less than beautiful.  Plants and materials that work with the climate are low maintenance and gorgeous. “

Now that half the city is brown straw, she says that we all need to consider how much we invest in lawns and we need a plan for removing and replacing lawns.  This does not mean no green as clover is a wonderful drought resistant alternative and bees love it.  A closer look at what the Americans are doing gives a glimpse in to some truly innovative practices, including biochar.  Biochar is a super heated, water removed soil enhancer that locks and returns carbon back to earth-reversing carbon emissions using grass and other fiber waste.  It also has the added benefit of enhancing water retention by over 40% and increasing crop yields.  Randi-Lee’s dream is to secure support to create a cooperative biochar and fuel model that could serve across sectors in East Van.  She says that, “Done right a working business model could demonstrate that an innovative twist to old school tried and true works.  There is plenty enough wrong in the world not to take a chance to make a small piece of it right.”

So, how did Randi-Lee become an advocate for biochar? 

After working for over 20 years contract to contract in the community development field facing what she felt were fewer opportunities, she returned to her family gardening roots.   She says, “I grew up in a gardening family-both food and ornamental.  Summer was about growing your own-apples, cherries, a veggie patch, berry picking.  I worked with senior master gardeners who taught me the key to successful gardening is found in the basic tools that have existed for millennia.”  She learned how to use the three essential pruning tools: snips, clips and a back saw.  But with all good gardens, it begins with the soil.

She then completed the 4 month intensive Self Employment Program at Douglas College.   Randi-Lee says that at the placement interview, the counselor reviewed her idea – an old school hand tooled cargo trike ridden gardening service– looked at Randi-Lee’s calloused hands and having seen photos of the gardens, the counselor saw in the photos the work of her own father, himself a master gardener.  So Randi-Lee was admitted to the program.  With the help of Embers Ventures downtown, Tegan Verheul to help on her website and social media, and CCEC’s Business Loans Officer, Simply Barefoot Gardening Services is now in its’ fourth year of operation.  

Randi-Lee Taylor, Simply Barefoot Garden Services,www.simplybarefoot.ca, simplybarefootgs@gmail.com  or visit at www.facebook.com/SimplyBarefootGardenServices

Why I’m a member of CCEC:

My mother was a life long banker,the first woman bank manager in western Canada. Up until the last few years she was proud of her service, helping first time homeowners. She couldn’t agree with many of the changes taking place with the big banks so she left.  It wasn’t longer after that she died and I was left without a mom, bank or banker.  In stepped a friend who is a member of CCEC, showing up one day with the declaration that enough was enough, if I wasn’t going to a bank, I best go with her to meet the folks at CCEC “Trust me Randi, it’s not a bank. These folks aren’t just like us, they ARE us.” So, a CCEC Member Service Rep. signed me up.  My friend was right.

Being a member of CCEC is akin to joining the cast of a Norman Lear show from 70s; regular decent folks trying to get by in an increasingly changing world. If you ever have to stand in line (a rarity in my experience), you will be standing with poets, playwrights, filmmakers, roofers, temporary workers, gardeners, artists and a collection of folks who go about being decent human beings and trying to be decent to others.  I’d say that’s a membership privilege.  Plus when you walk in the staff know you by name and if they don’t yet, they soon will.  How cool is that?

For me personally and professionally, I would have given up on my dreams a long time ago if my money was in the hands of another institution.  There’s always been someone at CCEC to give advice, support and encouragement, if not a loan or two.  None of this is because they have to, it is because that is just who they are.  And maybe therein lies the difference.  CCEC is a “who” and ‘how” kind of place, the others focus on the “what, when and how much”.

It just makes sense to have the biggest portion (of money) in the hands of folks who share the same values. When I decided to start my own business it helped that I already had CCEC. 

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David Asher has been a member of CCEC since 2007 which is also the time he has been sharing his knowledge on the culture of cheese. David takes a political stance against Big Dairy and criticizes both standard industrial and artisanal cheesemaking practices.  He encourages us to source good raw milk, promotes the use of ethical animal rennet, protests the use of laboratory-grown freeze-dried cultures, and explores how GMO technology is creeping into our cheese. 

Why I belong to CCEC:  I joined to keep my money in my community, and  to divest from the corporate investments that underpin the conventional banking system.  Its such a comfortable place for me to bank, and I cherish the rare opportunity to visit when I come to Vancouver from the Gulf Islands.   And it’s so respectable too; what other banks send out emails with the statement.

David just published his book, The Art of Natural Cheesemaking, and is currently on a North American tour to network, share his knowledge and to educate us on how to "take back our cheese".  So, what does that mean?

Over 10 years ago, while studying at UBC and volunteering at UBC farm, David decided to become a farmer.  He visited a co-operative farm in the Fraser Valley where he had his first taste of a homemade cheese, made by the farm manager with her raw goats milk. He says that tasting the amazing cheeses aged in her own cave provided the spark for him to try cheesemaking at home.  However, as his milk bills started going through the roof, he decided it was time to leave the city and find a cow.

It was at Varalaya farm on Mayne Island (with his farming mentor Ron Pither, founding member of CCEC) that he did his first organic farming apprenticeship, and had his first taste of raw milk.  He got his own goats and kept them in community  as everything is better in community.  He says that the fresh raw milk made all the difference to the natural cheeses, which just don't work right with overprocessed and pasteurized milk. 

The realization that raw milk was most suited to cheesemaking gave him a sense that maybe raw milk is better for us than your average store bought milk. and restrictions on its sale take away consumers rights to choose the most healthy and nourishing foods they could eat.  

Asher's Black Sheep School of Cheesemaking is a traveling cheese school that offers workshops in partnership with food-sovereignty-minded organizations and communities.  He feels that these groups are reconnecting people to the food, the farmers and the land that sustain them.  They bring folks together round the dining table, and educate and empower consumers to make more sustainable food choices, and The Black Sheep School's educational offerings fit right in with their directives.  Together, they are helping to build a stronger and more just food system.  

David is an advocate for consumer access to good raw milk.  He feels that better access to raw milk will help improve our cheesemaking culture. He says, "We just don't make cheese as part of our culture here in North America, and this is in large part due to systemic fear of raw milk, and limits on its access."  Raw milk makes a more simple cheesemaking, and a more delicious cheese, and as we learn to work with it safely, people will realize that making home-made dairy products is entirely possible.  

David is on a North American cheese tour promoting his book with the help of his publishers, Chelsea Green.  He is very excited to share his cheesemaking message with the world, and when he returns wants to set up his Black Sheep School of Cheesemaking on the Gulf Islands.

For more information and to buy his book, click here for the Chelsea Green publishers or visit Amazon.

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Located on Powell east of Victoria Drive, Cease and Senaqwila are creating a welcoming space for indigenous people to connect to their community and to each other. 

Raven and Hummingbird Tea Co is a mother daughter enterprise for long-time CCEC members, Cease and Senaqwila 

 Wyss. Just like Cease, the paddles in the shop have been on a long journey.  After 20 years of running a tea business in her home, she has partnered with her daughter, a 3rd year Communications Major at SFU, to open a special place in East Vancouver.  Senaqwila and Cease say, “We want to encourage and inspire indigenous people to open a business.”

 Their space showcases a different indigenous artist each month, offers workshops and hosts fundraisers.  This Friday night, June 12,  come to the kickoff for the POWELL ST SESSIONS that will be Friday evenings throughout the summer  Presented by BEEZ KNEEZ EVENTS, Sunblock Spectacular, is the art show curated by Senaqwila Wyss + Jamila Pomeroy, creators of Beez Kneez Events.

 Past events hosted include a fundraiser for Indigenous Midwives; and Wolverine’s Organic Farm and Community Garden Campaign in Chase.  In July they will offer Wild Salmon information sessions in collaboration with Dawn Morrison.  Cease’s wild tea blends will be combined with the home-brew Kombucha, bannocks and soups will be served.  In the fall, they will have a trade mart showcasing Indigenous Food and Medicines.  They are currently open only on the weekends serving bannocks and teas by donation and will soon be open at least 5 days per week.  When you drop by, be sure to check out their drying rack!  Cease and Senaqwila say, “We want to work collaboratively with our community, to foster local, seasonal products, artists and encourage more indigenous economic development.”

Contact:

Cease Wyss  ceasefire66@gmail.com
Senaqwila Wyss breezkneezevents@gmail.com
1875 Powell St
Vancouver, British Columbia
(604) 336-2567

http://indigenousplantdiva.wordpress.com/

http://beezkneezevents.wix.com/beezkneezevents

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Michelle Fortin, CCEC Co-chair, has been nominated for a Women of Distinction Award through the YWCA of Metro Vancouver. And Michelle deserves the recognition. Michelle is a powerhouse ED at Watari Counseling and Support Services, in the inner city. There she displays vision, tact and compassion working with families, youth and others who need assistance. As well she participates in a several service sector coalitions and advisory boards. For the last 8 years she has been a director at CCEC, and has served as Co-chair for the last three years. Michelle is a natural leader, convener and negotiator.  Michelle distinguishes herself as an outstanding communicator and thinker everyday, CCEC is glad to see her get this nomination. 
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The roundtable cynic:

 

I often have a kneejerk reaction to the word dialogue. I’ve got a bone to pick with community. Too often, these words get bandied about in flimsy and placating ways. So it’s a little ironic that my role has been to facilitate over ten hours of “community conversations” in the past month, in the form of Roundtable discussions for CCEC credit union.

 

It’s not that I’m completed jaded. I’m sure when the Community Congress for Economic Change named itself back in 1976, “community” wasn’t yet the relatively empty buzzword that it is today. What I mean is just that CCEC, in spite of its name, can’t take “community” for granted.

 

The Roundtables, which wrapped up last week, have been a step in the right direction. After locking up at Watari last Monday, I joined Ross Gentleman, Steve Kisby and Tammy Lea Meyer—CCEC’s manager and two directors--at Pat’s Pub for celebratory beers (cider for me). Amid plentiful jests, in true CCEC fashion, we reflected on questions like, How do we build coalitions to improve banking access for low-income people? How do we create more racial diversity on our Board and among our membership? How does CCEC build more meaningful relationships with Indigenous people and organizations?

 

These questions have become more tangible thanks to feedback from Roundtable participants. In all, twenty-seven invitees attended the Roundtables. If you count Board members, that means more than thirty people have spent over ten hours dishing with us about economic justice, generating an archive of wisdom about this economic and cultural moment. That’s wealth, right there.

 

We didn’t just talk about money; we also waxed philosophical about trust, shame, time, and knowledge. Participants offered myriad concrete ideas for projects and collaborations, some of which are already being pursued by CCEC’s Board and management. What’s more, it was a refreshingly cross-generational dialogue, with nearly a third of the participants under thirty, an age group that’s typically underrepresented at CCEC.

 

In the words of director Jan Berman: I’ve watched a lot of organizations become kind of wishy washy.... As you get older, I think you get more disillusioned and less driven for change. I think CCEC fell into that as well, but now we’re really trying very hard to connect with new visions. And it comes from youth, I believe.” 

 

Next up: questioning the internet! 

 

Nat Marshik is a writer, sauerkraut maker, and visual artist currently working for CCEC as a community engagement organizer. Stay tuned for more blog posts over the coming weeks. You can find Nat’s blogs all in one place at: http://ccecroundtable.tumblr.com/

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Apply to the 7 month leadership program that gives young adults the skills and tools needed to become effective leaders in movements for social and environmental change.

  •  Are you concerned about things like climate change, poverty, public health and education, housing and government policy?

  •  Do you believe that global and local issues are connected?

  • Do you feel that our economic system is focused on profit at the expense of people and the planet?

The application deadline for Next Up BC is September 19, 2014. The program runs between October 2014 and May 2015.  Visithttp://www.nextup.ca/how-to-apply/ for more information.  

Next Up is co-hosted in BC with Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA).

Next Up was created by a community of people who wanted to help emerging leaders develop new and better skills, smarts and ideas. The program is intense. Over seven months, we’ll dive into a number of topics and disciplines, combining theory, practice, deep thinking, and hard skills. We’ll look at some of the most pressing Canadian policy issues, with a focus this year on climate change. We will consider where “progressive” thinking is on these issues and how to solve them. We’ll look at how change is made in society. And we’ll meet some of the most innovative change-makers in the province — from the non-profit, labour, business and public sectors — who are working for a better world.


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Offered by credit union partner Concentra Financial, CCEC Credit Union supported Groundswell Grassroots Economic Alternatives in obtaining one of eighteen nationally-offered ‘emPOWERING Your Communities grants.  The grants are presented by Concentra to be delivered through credit unions to support co-operative and socially responsible ventures.

Matt Hern, Groundswell Founder stated, “The grant will be used to further Groundswell  work to confront the isolation, precarity and social disconnect that so many young people encounter today.”   Groundswell is a training network of young people starting alternatives-to-business together, and recreating the economy in the process.  The school is based in Vancouver, BC, and connected to global efforts to build a more democratic economy. 


The alternative-to-business-as-usual school sees 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.  Applications are now being accepted for the program starting in September.  Visit http://groundswellcommunity.ca/ for more information.

"Groundswell is very grateful for the support from Concentra.  We are honoured to be among the many great winners past and present of Concentra funding who are working to strengthen the co-operative and credit union movement in Canada," said Hern.

Ross Gentleman, CEO and General Manager of CCEC Credit Union noted, “CCEC is collaborating with Groundswell on this project providing loans to the students for their tuition.  Supporting Groundswell in their emPOWERING Your Communities  Grant submission is another example of our partnership.”

CCEC Credit Union is a single branch credit union on Commercial Drive.  It was founded by Vancouver’s self-help community including co-ops and not-for-profit groups to meet their financial needs.   Our goal is Economic Democracy.

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Concentra Financial Presents $10,000 cheque to Groundswell Grassroots Economic Alternatives

From left to right:  Irina Molhohovsky (community volunteer – Groundswell); Diane McLean, AVP (Concentra); Jim Barker, Co-Founder (Groundswell); Ross Gentleman, CEO and General Manager (CCEC) and Andrea Fiscal, Community Outreach Coordinator with Obi (Groundswell)

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A workshop at Living the New Economy

SUNDAY, OCTOBER 20 10 am -12:00 pm 

Performance Works Theatre on Granville Island, Vancouver

With Suresh Fernando and Michelle Colussi (Canadian Centre for Community Renewal), Ross Gentleman (CCEC Credit Union) and Kevin Harding (BC Cooperatives Association)

How will we finance building a new economy focused on social and environmental justice?  What are the key features of the new economy and the finance tools that are needed to support it? 

This session will share examples of community based finance models and engage participants in a discussion of how we might scale up their use in the Lower Mainland, and across the province.  Examples will include co-operatives, co-op and community investment funds, community bonds, micro credit, crowdfunding and impact investing.

Click here for tickets and more information. 

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SFU Public Square - Summit

CCEC is collaborating with SFU Public Square and hosting one of 100 Community Conversations on the BC Economy, taking place over the coming few weeks. These conversations will feed into a Community Summit Sep 28-Oct 4 at the Centre for Dialog and subsequently the publication of a "Citizens' Agenda". 

The SFU Public Square is a unique community engagement project which tries to foster constructive open dialog on issues of substantial importance within the province. 

The challenging question is, "How can we create wealth, promote social equity, and protect our environment?"

Check out the other events and activities associated with this 2013 Community Summit. If you'd like to take part in our CCEC community conversation session, email Joanne. Last year's 'summit' considered the problem social isolation in urban environments and the report prompted policy re-considerations within governments and foundations.  

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