Communities and the State of our Economic Landscape

Communities and the State of our Economic Landscape

Evelyne explores what community is from her personal experiences tree planting, to business, to her experience in the Groundswell Social Venture program.

"Businesses do well to create a brand that might mimic the trustworthiness of a close friend or relative when offering services to create customer loyalty. But there is no substitute for authentic community."

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.

Alumni Profile: Another Space

Alumni Profile: Another Space

Groundswell alumni Sarah Peacock and Tada Ozumi founded Another Space out of the Groundswell Community Based Ventures Program.  

Sarah Peacock says, "We started our project in May of 2015 by opening the doors to Vancouver’s very first community-based creative arts therapy studio. Since, we have grown into something that is more than just a physical space. Another Space has evolved into a platform that promotes workshops around personal growth and healing by helping to increase their value and visibility."

Watch this video to hear more of their journey and the steps they took to make their vision a reality.

Context and the Cottonwood and Strathcona Community Gardens; Not Just Another Garden Plot

Caitlin Bryant 2013 HSBy Caitlin Bryant, Groundswell cohort member This afternoon at 2pm, Wednesday, October 21, 2015, Vancouver City Council will receive a presentation regarding the removal of the Georgia and Dunsmuir Viaducts. Depending on the outcome, the Cottonwood and Strathcona Community Garden could be greatly affected if not reduced or displaced. It is understood that there approximately three options on the table for re-routing of the viaduct traffic and expanding False Creek Flats development and the possibility of taking space from the gardens and park is included in at least one of them. In particular the Malkin Avenue option -- as shown on pg. 9 and 14, of the Removal of the Georgia and Dunsmuir Viaducts proposal ( and is referenced in the False Creek Flats Planning Program (

Strathcona Community GardenThe Context Part...

If you have ever stepped foot in the Cottonwood and Strathcona Community Gardens, then you know how special it is. Nestled on a total of seven acres of reclaimed land between the main traffic arteries of Clark Drive, Prior Street, Heatley Avenue and Malkin Avenue; It is a completely unexpected -and unsurpassed- oasis smack-dabb in the middle of inner-city Vancouver.

But, the importance of this plot of land is not only tied to urban food security and public green-space (as if that wasn't enough!) The Cottonwood and Strathcona Community Garden is also a place of historical community importance. Located on unseeded Coast Salish territories, the land's post-colonial development history spans the 1840's as a tidal flat and natural estuary to a homeless encampment during the 1930's to a social activism, food security intervention in the 1980's to the ecological oasis of present.  Follow this link ( for a historical timeline of the gardens from the 1840's-1970's and check out this page for more recent history.

To this day the gardens continue to represent a place for community programming, education, and action. Take The Cultch's 2013, Connect The Plots Youth Theatre Project ( for example. This one of a kind "youth in the arts" leadership project could have only existed within the eco-system of the community garden. Working with The Purple Thistle and the Environmental Youth Alliance, who both regularly use the gardens, they created their own inter-woven stories about the community building that happens between neighbours and strangers over our garden plots. Inspired by their surroundings, they chose to focus on issues like sustainable environmental practices, intergenerational relationship building, agriculture and public green space, and social and environmental activism. Their art and project development was directly informed by the land and, in turn, they literally grew their stages and props. Can you think of anywhere else in inner-city Vancouver where this is possible? I can't.


In Vancouver we are quite concerned with being recognized as "green" and "innovative". Spaces like the Cottonwood and Strathcona Community Gardens already put Vancouver on the map as a world-class, sustainable, innovative, and beautiful city. We just need to make sure we protect and celebrate these places of historical community importance.


The Call to Action Part (again):

I urge you to communicate with City Planners and Mayor and Council, requesting that they ensure that the removal of the Georgia and Dunsmuir viaducts leaves the Cottonwood and Strathcona Community Gradens 100% intact and unobstructed for the use of our community -- for me, for you, your kids, and for your dogs, for generations to come. Don't worry if you've missed the deadline of 2pm on Wednesday, October 21. It's never too late to share what an incredible space this is with your civic leaders. They work for us, after all.


You can contact Holly Sovdi, Planner, Vancouver – Downtown, at 604.871.6330. You can also communicate your preferences directly to Vancouver's Mayor and Council by emailing

Saturday Workshop #1: Ethics and Contemporary Capitalism


Where does that gut feeling of wrongness our current economic system often arouses in us come from? Guest facilitator Chris Nichols dives into the intricacies of neo-liberal capitalism, using conceptual tools to unpack the story of capitalism and its many invisible contradictions, before showing what is at stake today in understanding these contradictions and their 'on-the-ground' flash points today.

He will then move to the imagining of alternatives, working through useful concepts and practical ways of 'living otherwise' within our current system, using compelling contemporary examples as inspiration.


DATE: Saturday, October 17th
TIME: 10:00 am - 2:00 pm (with a break for lunch)
WHERE: Groundswell Cafe & Clubhouse, 566 Powell St. at Princess
WHAT: Ethics and Contemporary Capitalism: critique and the realization of alternatives
REGISTRATION: $35.00 for community members, $20.00 for Groundswell alumni  
If you cannot afford the registration fee but really want to attend, please email communications"at"

Chris Nichols

Morning - Attacking the current economic logic conceptually and historically We begin this workshop diving into the intricacies of neo-liberal capitalism, using conceptual tools to unpack the story of capitalism and its many invisible contradictions, before showing what is at stake today in understanding these contradictions and their 'on-the-ground' flash points that are happening all around us.

Afternoon - Practical ways of "living otherwise" within our current system Although the problems of contemporary neo-liberal capitalism are very real and far reaching, they are not immutable; a different world is not only possible, but evident everywhere. We look at the many ways people are practicing other ways of living, working through useful concepts and practical ways that our ethics can find real traction in alternative economies and communities within our current system.

PRESENTED BY: Facilitated by Chris Nichols

Chris is a writer and carpenter living in Vancouver, BC, on the unceded territories of the Coast Salish Peoples. He is the co-founder of Wood Shop Workers Co-op, alumnus of Groundswell's Social Entrepreneur program, and has written and spoken extensively on social and economic critique being an opening toward the imagination and realization of practical alternatives. 

   Hosted by Groundswell's Community Coordinator, Emily Huynh

Emily is an experienced facilitator grounded in anti-oppressive practice who has worked in community education and engagement settings across the Lower Mainland. As Groundswell’s Community Coordinator, she shares her skills in community consultation and focuses on bridging the diverse perspectives of Groundswell’s participants, local community, and broader network of movers and shakers.  She is currently completing her MA in Community Psychology.

If you cannot afford the ticket price and you really want to attend, please email us at communications"at"

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.

Enter: Groundswell


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.


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:


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.


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,

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

- Paola Qualizza

Vancouver Soup - Thursday, September 24

Fund your project with soup!Are you working on something that is happening in the city of Vancouver and it is making our community a better, friendlier, or more sustainable place?  We are starting a new crowdfunding dinner and would love you to pitch your idea to win!
Happening at the Groundswell Cafe & Clubhouse, 566 Powell
Thursday, September 24th
Doors at 6 pm
Program 7 pm - 9 pm
For more info, contact Kerrie O'Donnell, Project Director of Vancouver SOUP

Soup poster

CONTACT: @vancouverSOUP

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

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

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!


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: Email: with any questions

Super Chill in Dude Chilling Park - July 23rd

grass grassVancouver has this amazing social impact scene, attracting people who want to make a difference, who work hard, every day, to bring innovative solutions to our most pressing social problems. This is tough work! So we thought we'd invite everyone over to the park - Dude Chilling Park, of course - to lounge in the grass, toss some toys around, and PLAY! and also learn about what cool things the rest of the crew is up to.

WHERE: Dude Chilling (Guelph) Park WHEN: Thursday July 23rd, 6:00 pm Join & Share on Facebook!

Join us! Meet the people behind the scenes making Vancouver a wicked place to live for EVERYONE, and at the front lines, working for the greater good.

barbecue! balls! b--r!

Now let's play :-)

DTES Social Impact Walking Tour Series


What makes the DTES the beating heart of social change action in Vancouver?  Join us for a series of expertly guided walks to explore the sometimes hidden places and operations of social impact that make this place come alive.

When: Tuesdays in July at 4:00 pm - 6:00 pm


Get your tickets here! Share and invite your friends on Facebook $25 per tour or pay what you can, if you can afford more, or less, of the standard cost.

Your walking tour host, Groundswell, is part of a vital ecosystem of social enterprise in the DTES, where some of the oldest, newest, most diverse, and widest serving social enterprises - non-profits, social impact businesses, co-operatives, etc., - are found.   


Being located in the DTES surrounds us with incredibly deep local and historical knowledge, lived experience and place-based expertise, creating an abundance of social and community capital.  We are hosting a series of walking tours to explore this unique social and economic ecosystem and share what we’ve learned from our neighbours, partners, and alumni that make this neighbourhood a hub for innovative social action.  Come and get to know the people and places that help make up the beating heart of Vancouver’s social economy.


Learn about your tour quide, local community economic development strategist Wes Regan, below!

Walking Tour Schedule


**please arrive 10 minutes before the tour starts**

Tour #1: New Ventures Doing it Differently July 14th, 4:00 pm start

Groundswell is cultivating entrepreneurial skills in people who care about people and the planet more than profit.  What does this look like?  Meet a few of the people and projects they have launched out of Groundswell’s community and landed in the local community, and see first hand the transformative impact they’ve had in their own lives and in the community around them.  


Stops along the way:

Meet at Another Space, 1523 E Pender Street - a brand new community art and wellness hub.

Wood Shop Worker's Co-operative - where dismantling pallets means dismantling the economic system.

Hives For Humanity - Building community with bees

Groundswell Grassroots Economic Alternatives and REV-Up - putting people's dreams and values to work for them.


Snacks and beverages on us at Groundswell. Stick around for a Groundswell Info Session at 6 pm and stay late for a social night of live music and refreshments at the cafe!


Tour #2: The Global-Local Connection of Vancouver Eastside's Social Enterprises July 21st, 4:00 pm start

This cluster of social enterprises shows how an intense local impact can actually grow to be part of a broader ecosystem in other communities that want to see their economies guided by the same values. These projects have scaled to have a scope of influence with impact far beyond the DTES: sharing their knowledge, best practices, their own conscientious practices, and more, and gaining an international profile due to their success.

Stops along the way:

The Hive ** meet here** East Van Roasters Potluck Cafe Society The Window Lost & Found Cafe with Groundswell Info Session

Tour #3: What is actually going on here?  Innovative Uses of Urban Space

July 28th, 4:00 pm start at Soul Food's original vacant lot farm at E. Hastings St. & Hawkes Ave.


These are not your typical storefront enterprises: these highly visible but mysterious operations are employing innovative uses of space for unexpected social purpose, programming, impact, and placemaking that is much deeper than appears at a glance.

Occupying a mix of private and public space, whether it’s local food serving local housing food programs, creating low barrier jobs, or providing a service to local businesses diverting waste from our regional landfills, the projects have deep, intensive uses, yet we often pass by without realizing the full scope of what is going on.

Come and explore the stops along the way:

Strathcona Resource Park Soul Food Farm DTES Street Market & Solar Powered Tool Share Hastings Urban Farm on Facebook The Wood Shop Groundswell  Info Session


About the host organization


Hosted by Groundswell Grassroots Economic Alternatives, a non-profit society building a community of people and projects that are part of a greater movement for positive social and economic change. Participants receive training and mentoring in Groundswell's DTES café and clubhouse location to create community based projects and ventures that put people and the planet before profit.  


About your tour guide


Tour guide Wes Regan is a social venture start-up mentor at Groundswell and has worked in sustainable community economic development in Vancouver’s Eastside since 2009.  He is the founding Executive Director of the Hastings Crossing Business Improvement Association (HxBIA) Canada’s first Social Innovation BIA, and co-founder of award winning greentech firm, Urban Stream. Wes’ career has spanned urban food system development, community engagement, economic planning and government advocacy and academia. Passionate about capacity building, education and engagement, Wes is also an instructor at Simon Fraser University’s Community Economic Development Program.   He has spoken about community economic development, green businesses, new economy thinking and urban issues at conferences in the United States and Canada and his ideas and opinions have appeared in TechVibes, the Vancouver Observer, the Georgia Straight and other publications.  He is also the Green Party of Canada’s Critic for Urban Affairs and Housing.


 DTES walking tour Series July15


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!


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.


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!



Colours of Edziza- Film Screening and Dialogue - May 26th

POSTER Join Groundswell Economic Alternatives, the First Nations Technology Council and Expedition Leaders Curtis Rattray and Mike Schauch in an intimate film screening and dialogue. Doors open: 7 pm Film start: 7:30 Film end: 8:12 Dialogue to follow to 9 pm *** Interested in Groundswell? Come to an Info Session at 6 pm before the screening.


This extraordinary journey begins with two leaders from different worlds—a member of the Tahltan Nation and leader among his people looking to pass his teachings on to his kin, and a West Coast mountaineer and investment professional seeking new adventure while exploring his own connection to the land. Brought together by their passion for learning from the land, they are joined by two younger Tahltans, an artist and an 18 year old youth, to traverse one of the last, great untamed places on earth. Venturing deep into the remote and rugged mountains of the Tahltan territory in northern British Columbia, the two leaders discover a new shared connection, one that would allow them to put their differences aside and accomplish this incredible traverse together.


Following the film screening, join Expedition Leaders Curtis Rattray and Mike Schauch in an engaging dialogue as they shed more light on their journey and learnings, what we can learn about cross cultural leadership, the importance of respect, and our role as leaders within our community.

Tickets are available at: Pay what you can!

ReSchool: Charles Tsai is our Day 2 keynote + check out these 6 education innovation cases

Reposted from the Radius SFU blog,  our partners for ReSchool: Transform the Future of Education, By Maggie Knight

We’re delighted to announce that Charles Tsai will be our second keynote speaker, and that the following 6 cases will be part of ReSchool. There are still a few registration spots left – get your registration in ASAP!



From Excellent Sheep to Motivated Elephants – A New Vision for Mass Education

Charles Tsai is an educator and champion of young social innovators. He started a democratic charity for youth and mentored hundreds of young changemakers through Ashoka, the world’s largest network of social entrepreneurs. He has developed social innovation tools for Ashoka, the World Bank, and Adobe’s Youth Voices. And he regularly facilitates workshops and bootcamps for schools, community organizations and foundations.

Charles is now working on launching a new type of secondary school that prepares young people to be self-directed lifelong learners. He was inspired by a program created by teenagers in Massachusetts, which he documented in the viral video, “If students designed their own schools…” His goal is to shift mainstream education away from the current industrial model to one that is driven by the learner’s own curiosity, passion, and sense of purpose.

Charles joins Quest University President David Helfand as a ReSchool keynote speaker.


Each case represents a significant innovation in education and will be presented in 5 minutes and workshopped by cross-cutting groups of participants.

Elaine Su – Compass Community School

Compass Community School is a disruptive new vision for community based primary school, deeply rooted in the belief that we owe it to children to expect more of them. Imagine a school that is mobile, active in the community, and that integrates high academic performance with real-life learning. Where twenty young learners ride around on bikes every day, heading out to their next learning adventure, and everyone who sees them waves because they know, respect, and cherish who they are. A non-profit, independent school, we are in the business of educating world-changing leaders of today and tomorrow.

Charles Tsai – Tiny Home School

Tiny Home School is redesigning secondary education for the 21st century. We are replacing the current factory model and standardized curriculum with an approach student-centered and self-directed approach to learning, yielding better outcomes for students and society. The pilot cohort will be made up of high school “walkouts and Aboriginal youth who want to build their own tiny house (on wheels) – through self-directed learning rather than a teacher-led homebuilding program. When they graduate, they will have a house of their own (to use or sell) and a powerful story that will shift hearts and minds.

Chad Lubelsky – J.W. McConnell Family Foundation’s RECODE initiative

We would like to explore RECODE’s potential in enabling post-secondary institutions to build the necessary infrastructure to become drivers of social innovation and social entrepreneurship. Launched in 2014, RECODE is an initiative of the J.W. McConnell Family Foundation, created in collaboration with thought leaders and partners from the private, public, and not-for-profit sectors. A call to social innovation—to redesign public institutions from the inside out; to disrupt business as usual; to found and grow new social enterprises; to create partnerships across institutional and sectoral boundaries – in short, to ‘RECODE’ our culture’s operating systems in order to achieve a more just, sustainable, and beautiful world.

CityStudio Vancouver – One Year Program

We are building a one year program that will allow students to experience an immersive and energetic environment as they work on collaborative city building inside City Hall. In teams of 4, they will design, execute and evaluate real projects on the ground co-created with Vancouver city staff, community members and professionals. Major outcomes will include the development of key employment skills, revealing and challenging hidden assumptions about leadership, power and collaboration.

Shaun Fraser – SKY: No Limits (Richmond Virtual School)

Personalized learning for students in Grade 11 and 12 at Richmond Virtual School. A different approach to learning combines Project Based Learning with our Blended Online Learning program. Students have the opportunity to work collaboratively with other students, community members, and two RVS teachers on cross-curricular projects in 4 courses. At the SKY program students have the opportunity to pursue their interests through a blended approach involving class meetings, online learning, and meaningful project based learning.

Sky Intro from RVS on Vimeo.

Kara and Brianna – Oak and Orca Bioregional School 

Oak and Orca Distributed Learning School is launching a radical new inquiry-based high school option for credits towards graduation with a BC Dogwood diploma.  The school has experience with inquiry learning face to face, but wishes to reach a greater number of students by taking inquiry learning to home-learners. The challenge is to create a well resourced online learning space (in a home-learning context) where students can actively engage in true interdisciplinary inquiry and collaboration.  We hope to create infrastructure for students to support them to independently engage in inquiry. We envision learning structures that guide and inspire but don’t limit and prescribe.