3 Days to 2018 – Fair Trade Coffee and Passive Houses

20 years ago I joined a random group of people calling themselves the Vancouver Fair Trade Coffee Network. Our goal was to educate coffee drinkers and purveyors of the value of fair trade coffee, as a way of changing the world from the ground up.

Being a huge fan of hot chocolate, my personal goal was for the fair trade coffee success to generate a spin-off movement for fair trade hot chocolate. That’s been slower than coffee, I get that. I don’t drink that bean so I haven’t benefited from the citizen-led movement, but I know millions have around the world. These days it’s hard to find coffee that isn’t fair trade and usually organic and shade-grown, whatever that means. 🙂

It’s time now, however, to turn similar environmental activism to fixing our municipal building codes, including to follow France by mandating all roofs to be green [solar or plants]. Why aren’t all new homes in Vancouver, heck in BC!, mandated to be passive houses?

Passive House gets character in Vancouver

Read that blog piece above. We’re STARTING to make our way TOWARDS passive houses. What, do we need to study it more? Does it need scientific verification? Do we need a real estate developer to see the light and push it for council to act? No, no, no.

We need people like the Vancouver Fair Trade Coffee Network to start guilting municipalities to fix their climate-useless building codes to fix everything going forward. And the guilting actually happens in reverse at the start: it’s about finding a champion mayor or councilor, or 6, leading into BC’s municipal elections in 10 months. The guilt comes later. 😉

But here’s a tip. Don’t start with Vancouver. Or Burnaby. Neither is terribly progressive when it comes to carbon footprint awareness compared to the lucre of property tax increases from renovictions and increasing density at the expense of affordable housing.

Find a progressive municipality with smart leaders and staff. Some medium sized ones can get it moving. Then the larger ones will feel the shame of not being leaders. Then ONE larger municipality will join and claim to be a leader, which is fine. Then it goes to the Union of BC Municipalities to push the provincial government to amend the Community and Vancouver Charters.

We could just start with the provincial government, but they’ve shown their capacity for real change is actually regressive after they approved the deeply offensive Site C dam.

I don’t know nearly enough about passive homes and municipal building codes to get this done. But I’m no fool. I can read. I can learn. And just like I don’t drink coffee, I knew 20 years ago that fair trade coffee should be the standard. I also read everything there was to read about straw bale homes on the internet 20 years ago. That was too ahead of its time for a not very green Vancouver.

And if you know about passive homes or building codes or actually progressive developers, we need to have a conversation. 🙂

Because my home isn’t a passive home, I know my next one will be. It will also be off the grid and a net exporter of electricity on a neighbourhood communal car-charging grid. Don’t ask me how just yet. But when it’s time, it’s time.

In the meantime, I’m rolling up my sleeves, looking for a good reading list, and some co-conspirators to find our first half dozen municipalities who also know they need passive houses to be part of their building codes. Because France. [BTW, France has also banned students from having cell phones in school and mandated arts education for all, just going to leave that here. While I consider restoring and enhancing my facility with the French language because my next home? It may be have to be in France.]

So let’s make 2018 the year when we make municipal building codes work for us!

And while straw bale homes make not make my lifeplan, a passive house does, including maybe one that floats:

 

9 Days to 2018 – Social Enterprises vs. Capitalism

It’s not a cage match. It’s way more subtle. And it’s the core focus of my work in 2018, and it shoudl be yours too.

Some workplaces close down between Christmas and New Year’s. This year, the idiocies of the calendar lead to that being just a 3 day shutdown [because Boxing Day is a thing in Canada].

Far more offices merely have skeleton staffs working because those with more seniority and sufficient vacation days just take late December off.

Now that about only 50% of Canadians work full-time, the previous 2 paragraphs are increasingly meaningless to an increasing number of people. They’ll be working a lot over the next 2 weeks. And generally we’re still assuming they get time off, or something. And here I am, writing 18 reflections leading into 2018 because I DON’T have the have 3 jobs to get more than 1 present under the tree for each kid.

We need to be thinking that more and more people are becoming the precariat, the precarious proletariat. The underemployed, the sub-minimum wage workers. The struggling, those with too many jobs. Those who can’t afford to live in the cities they work in, so they waste an extra 350-700 hours a year commuting because they don’t earn enough to have just one job and walk to work. What couldn’t YOU do if someone too just 300 hours a year from you for extra commuting time?

Who are these people?

They’re not teens looking for spending money. They’re increasingly not just Millennials but Echos, and Gen Xers and yes, Boomers. And I’ll add this, yes they’re older than the Boomers, often called the Traditionalists, but the poorest group of them: the people who have no workplace pension and they’ll work until the illness or decay that will eventually end their life, initially prevents them from going to work one day. Then it’s all downhill from there.

Social enterprises, including B corps and co-ops, are a secret revolutionary device. Some neoliberal 1% folk are already targeting these do-gooders as undermining free market, deregulated capitalism. They’re not wrong. But we need to pick a side. But which side!

Capitalism started with Adam Smith when he published the Wealth of Nations in 1776, a year you likely remember for another kind of revolution, a political one.

But economics, trade, commerce…Smith didn’t invent these. He helped usher in an era of deep economic greed, exploitation and maximizing shareholder wealth. Period. He’s largely why Karl Marx is famous.

We can’t reform capitalism. Why? Maximizing shareholder wealth. Period.

Co-ops dream, through their Principle 6, to create a new global economy among co-operative enterprises, where workplace democracy is the starting point.

When your entire economic model is entrenched in a bunch of things, none of which is maximizing shareholder wealth, then we can create a new economic not based on Adam Smith and the economic tyrants whose 1% ways led to them having as much wealth as the poorest 50% of all humans.

Income inequality. The Occupy Wall Street movement was all over that, including the term, the 1%. A massive international hegemonic action quashed Occupy, but we’re left with everyone talking about the 1%, including deep, committed city-states of neoliberal capitalism: the WTO, the OECD and the IMF. They’re not stupid. They know that increased income inequality leads to global revolution. Then it’s Dr. Zhivago. They don’t want that, so now their playing with valves and optics to try to release some pressure before the volcano blows.

Be suspicious when the hyper-wealthy, and their think tanks and international economic organizations start to champion the plight of the poor and precarious. They can’t maximize shareholder wealth inside a global political, social and economic revolution.

But social enterprises are different. Sure, some of them have as much integrity as a lima bean. But they’re usually easy to spot. They’re all about the optics and promoting their massive CSR.

The rest of them know that everything they’re doing accomplishes one or more social goods relating to economic, social, environmental or political justice.

To celebrate the start of 2018 I’ll be receiving a starter pack of goodies from Capuli Club, a Seattle social enterprise that ticks quite a few boxes of awesome. And when I go see my Ottawa people next month, I’m sharing another Capuli Club pack. Along with some ChopValue coasters, the ones with the Vancouver skyline on them. ChopValue is awesome in so many ways, but beyond actually being carbon neutral, they are a negative carbon solution.

Once upon a time, we started recycling paper. Then we started separating paper from recyclable plastics, compost and [sadly] landfill trash. Then we embraced taking our own hot beverage mug to coffee shops, which themselves never used to exist. And we started going with fair trade and organic coffee. And we took cloth bags to grocery stores when civil society astonishingly forced the stores to charge a nickel for every plastic bag we used. Then came Nada, where we level up again. And we’re all skipping drinking straws for 2018, right? Including in the remain days of 2017.

You see this trend. It’s the do-gooder thing on small scales. Being more intentional and aware of our impact. Now, we need to embrace the co-ops’ Principle 6 by stopping having economic relationships with companies that aren’t social enterprises.

You can’t accomplish it all in 2018, but there are SOOOOO many low hanging fruit. One a month is probably easy to do. That means pick 12 social enterprises and use them to replace less constructive relationships. And when you switch, do it forever. And drag your friends along. I’m not yet know as the ” no more drinking straws” guy, but I’m close I think.

Stephen Colbert Calls for Boycott on Amazon on Behalf of Hachette Authors - IGNAnd while Whole Foods wasn’t perfect, Amazon gobbled it up. They’re no social enterprise. And we’ll see traditional capitalist companies confronting their own shame buy undermining social enterprises.

Organic-chart-Jan-2016Just think about organic food companies. Who owns them now? Are any still independent, or did a non-organic [or even anti-organic] company buy them. Sure, maybe we can reform capitalists by injecting righteousness into them because it’s profitable. But leopards, spots and maximizing shareholder wealth may endure longer than reform efforts. We’ll see.

But here’s what I think we need to see.

We need to remember who’s working their asses off over the next 9 days to finish off this year. We need to tip them more, smile at them more, be patient with their workload more, we need to wish them a better 2018. We need to ask them if they have any hope that 2018 will be better.

Beyond switching our personal and corporate supply chains from capitalist to social enterprises, we need to do more than just give people a higher tip at Christmastime. We need to start 2018 tipping not 10-15%, but a flat 20%. And if your jurisdiction has embraced a $15 minimum wage, keep tipping 20%. And if you aren’t at $15, phone your political leaders and shame them.

Then figure out how to convert your company into a worker co-op, or a B corp, or a living wage employer. And if that just can’t happen, maybe you and a few folks should quit and do that yourselves. You’re pretty talented. Remember how everyone is talking about a side hustle; make yours spectacular!

Find all the social enterprises around you, particularly in sectors that aren’t yours and ask them for mentorship and support. And build your Principle 6 bridges early.

But really, I’m mostly joking. Capitalists busy exploiting your labour to maximize shareholder wealth will not, WILL NOT, find ways of helping you undermine their profitability by spawning a social enterprise and converting themselves into that. It starts on the ground with people who care.

And you care. You’re here.

So make 2018 a year where your economic activity cultivates justice, opportunity and hope for others. It used to be harder, but it’s pretty easy today. And it’s only going to get easier, so get in on it.

Most of what I’m doing in 2018 will be about enhancing the potential of social enterprises to wedge out the 1% for the sake of the 99% and the planet.

We’re all in this together!

Just say “No Straws, Please” [There, That Wasn’t So Hard!]

With apologies to the companies around the world that make straws, we need to break up. Let me explain:

Plastic Oceans gets it. There are Texas-sized gyres of garbage floating around our oceans. That’s our fault. They’re not entirely comprised of straws, but just like sorting our recycling, saying “no straw please” when in restaurants may literally be the least we can do to combat our unhealthy relationship with plastic.

Do you know who gets it beyond Plastic Oceans? Vancouver’s new amazing, inspired social enterprise, Zero Waste Market.

The get it so much that they’re promoting tonight’s screening of A Plastic Ocean in Vancouver. And they’re demonstrating what makes them awesome as a market.

You can RSVP here, it’s free!

Ultimately, when people are harmonizing and optimizing their work-life-vocation-volunteering balance, which is the core of Path Consulting, it’s easy to skip the straws. It’s easy to align our working lives with our values.

And organizationally, when we have a pretty high bar for progressive values that improve the world, through a social enterprise or otherwise, it can be pretty simple to ensure our activities and our broad stakeholder relationships do more than just ensure sustainable economic activity!

It’s easy to be impressed with Zero Waste Market. I was last month. And you will be too.

Go see the screening tonight. And begin the trend among your people to make “no straw please” go viral!

I’m at ebStrategy.org.

Social Innovation Hub Inspiration, 5/5

GRAINWelcome to part 5 of 5!

Last Wednesday I spent the evening being rather impressed with a number of social enterprise groups at the Social Innovation Hub, run by UBC and Coast Capital Savings Credit Union.

In a world where it’s hard to pin down a non-cynical definition of “social enterprise,” Wednesday night was refreshingly simple. Each enterprise was deeply personable. Each had their story, a compelling narrative that resonated with the audience. Each knows that in the 21st century, we are increasingly more aware of the values inherent in our consumption. We gravitate towards those who share our values and away from those incapable of expressing values.

This week, I’m going to share with you the 5 groups who presented last week. I love what each of them is doing. And you likely will too!

Fifth up on Wednesday night was…

Who: EatGrain
What: Dry Goods For Fresh People. We bring a fresh approach to dry goods. All Canadian.
Web: https://www.eatgrain.ca/
Contact/Mailing List: https://www.eatgrain.ca/pages/contact
Twitter: https://twitter.com/eatgrain

Promo: Grain sources, sells and mills 100 per cent Canadian grains and beans, aiming to reconnect customers with the sources of their dry goods. GRAIN rejects conventional practices of processing, storage and distribution.

  1. Because family farms matter and it’s hard for us to individually get direct connection to those making our staples.
  2. We can’t raise the bar on improving the ingredients in our life without knowing more about sourcing, processing, storage and distribution.
  3. Because learning the stories of individual farmers expands our interconnected narratives.

And for context, below are my tweets and retweets from the night. Enjoy!

I’m at ebStrategy.org.

Social Innovation Hub Inspiration, 4/5

Welcome to part 4 of 5!

Last Wednesday I spent the evening being rather impressed with a number of social enterprise groups at the Social Innovation Hub, run by UBC and Coast Capital Savings Credit Union.

In a world where it’s hard to pin down a non-cynical definition of “social enterprise,” Wednesday night was refreshingly simple. Each enterprise was deeply personable. Each had their story, a compelling narrative that resonated with the audience. Each knows that in the 21st century, we are increasingly more aware of the values inherent in our consumption. We gravitate towards those who share our values and away from those incapable of expressing values.

This week, I’m going to share with you the 5 groups who presented last week. I love what each of them is doing. And you likely will too!

Fourth up on Wednesday night was…

Who: ChopValue
What: Because someone DID figure out what to do with all those used chopsticks!
Web: https://chopvalue.ca/
Contact/Mailing List: https://chopvalue.ca/contact/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/ChopValue

Promo: ChopValue Manufacturing creates innovative composite materials using recycled chopsticks. Developed by Felix Böck a UBC PhD student in the Faculty of Forestry, ChopValue aims to remove more than 100,000 disposable chopsticks that are sent to Vancouver’s landfill every day in order to give urban waste a second chance.

  1. Clever replacements for waste are too rare. When one comes around, we need to embrace it.
  2. I’m not vain, but a custom-engraved, recycled chopstick yoga block sounds good to me, and as a gift too for my fellow yoga freaks.
  3. Their team is as creatively diverse as their ideas. I’ve always been a sucker for supporting BC’s value-added wood sector. This is just too easy! 🙂

And for context, below are my tweets and retweets from the night. Enjoy!

I’m at ebStrategy.org.

Social Innovation Hub Inspiration, 3/5

Welcome to part 3 of 5!

Last Wednesday I spent the evening being rather impressed with a number of social enterprise groups at the Social Innovation Hub, run by UBC and Coast Capital Savings Credit Union.

In a world where it’s hard to pin down a non-cynical definition of “social enterprise,” Wednesday night was refreshingly simple. Each enterprise was deeply personable. Each had their story, a compelling narrative that resonated with the audience. Each knows that in the 21st century, we are increasingly more aware of the values inherent in our consumption. We gravitate towards those who share our values and away from those incapable of expressing values.

This week, I’m going to share with you the 5 groups who presented last week. I love what each of them is doing. And you likely will too!

Third up on Wednesday night was…

Who: Quupe
What: Item lending? Life is better when you share it
Web: https://quupe.com
Contact/Mailing List: https://quupe.com/FAQ.html
Twitter: https://twitter.com/quupe_inc

Promo: Quupe (“koop”) is an online rental platform that provides users a way to rent things from their neighbours. Founded by four master’s students from the Centre for Digital Media, Quupe started with the realization that people have valuable things in their homes that sit around gathering dust, and now they want to get stuff out of storage and into the world, for everybody to own it.

  1. The iconic kayak bought one summer, used 8 times, then…dust, guilt, calculating how much you lose when you put it on Craigslist? This.
  2. For me, socializing the logistics and creating a structure to protect owners from damage…this is critical.
  3. Landfill, ugh.

And for context, below are my tweets and retweets from the night. Enjoy!

I’m at ebStrategy.org.

Social Innovation Hub Inspiration, 2/5

Welcome to part 2 of 5!

Last Wednesday I spent the evening being rather impressed with a number of social enterprise groups at the Social Innovation Hub, run by UBC and Coast Capital Savings Credit Union.

In a world where it’s hard to pin down a non-cynical definition of “social enterprise,” Wednesday night was refreshingly simple. Each enterprise was deeply personable. Each had their story, a compelling narrative that resonated with the audience. Each knows that in the 21st century, we are increasingly more aware of the values inherent in our consumption. We gravitate towards those who share our values and away from those incapable of expressing values.

This week, I’m going to share with you the 5 groups who presented last week. I love what each of them is doing. And you likely will too!

Second up on Wednesday night was…

Who: Meatme
What: Meat…farm to table made easy
Web: https://www.meatme.ca/
Contact/Mailing List: https://www.meatme.ca/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/MeatmeCA

PromoMeatme is an online marketplace for consumers to connect with local farmers for healthy and honest meat. The company crowdfunds whole animals, then works with local butchers and logistic partners to deliver meat straight to customers’ doors.

  1. One of the best lines of the night: “the Tinder for farm-to-table meat consumption.”
  2. Cow/chicken/hog shares are a great idea, but if you don’t have one of those really big freezers, Meatme crowdsources the meat shares.
  3. If you have been wanting to develop deeper relationships with those who provide our food, it just got so much more logistically easier.

And for context, below are my tweets and retweets from the night. Enjoy!

I’m at ebStrategy.org.

Social Innovation Hub Inspiration, 1/5

Zero Waste MarketLast Wednesday I spent the evening being rather impressed with a number of social enterprise groups at the Social Innovation Hub, run by UBC and Coast Capital Savings Credit Union.

In a world where it’s hard to pin down a non-cynical definition of “social enterprise,” Wednesday night was refreshingly simple. Each enterprise was deeply personable. Each had their story, a compelling narrative that resonated with the audience. Each knows that in the 21st century, we are increasingly more aware of the values inherent in our consumption. We gravitate towards those who share our values and away from those incapable of expressing values.

This week, I’m going to share with you the 5 groups who presented last week. I love what each of them is doing. And you likely will too!

First up on Wednesday night was…

Who: Zero Waste Market
What: A market with no waste, because we all know packaging is out of control
Web: http://www.zerowastemarket.ca/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/zerowastemarket
Contact/Mailing List: http://www.zerowastemarket.ca/contact/

Promo: Brianne Miller founded Zero Waste Market to combine her background as a marine mammal biologist and her passion for tackling food waste and plastic pollution, on container at a time! Zero Waste Market is transforming the way people shop for groceries by building a 100 per cent package-free retail model. At Zero Waste Market, customers bring their own reusable containers to purchase local, organic and ethically sourced whole foods and home items.

  1. If you know about the garbage patches floating around our oceans, this.
  2. If you are already into the mode of saying No Thank You to straws in restaurants, this.
  3. If you are sorting your recyclables and composting and find that your “garbage” back is almost entirely non-recyclable plastic, then this.

And for context, below are my tweets and retweets from the night. Enjoy!

I’m at ebStrategy.org.

(In)secure: the Future of Working, A Tyee/SFU Joint

We're not in Kansas anymore!
We’re not in Kansas anymore!

(In)secure: the Future of Working, a Tyee/SFU joint on May 25 examined the nature of the precariat. I had many thoughts!

As individuals and organizations we need to become far more intentional about the nature of work, relationships, fulfillment and the social contract.

THAT is why I’m a Path Consultant and an Organizational Soul Consultant.

Here are my tweets from last night. Do they resonate with you? Then we need to talk. We need to build a game plan for you or your organization to make this a more intentional century for you. Plus, as an added bonus, you’ll have a real advantage over people who don’t really understand all this yet.

Call me. I’m at ebStrategy.org.