Vancity’s plans to accelerate impact.

I wrote a blog post for the CU Water Cooler today about the public release of Vancity’s internal Three Year Plan.


Why publish our internal plans? It’s all about transparency and getting the word out about what we’re doing, in the hopes that publishing our plans will be useful to our sister credit unions and co-operatives, as well as values-based banks and organizations focused on marrying their economic performance with environmental and/or social performance.

Check it out, and please comment on the article if you have something to add.

The CU Water Cooler Symposium agenda is out.

CU Water Cooler Symposium

The 2014 Credit Union Water Cooler Symposium

Anyone who follows my blog is very, very likely to know how much I love the Credit Union Water Cooler Symposium. It is a somewhat inexplicable combo-conference focusing on the Credit Union-ness of topics such as Marketing, HR, technology, design, and other opportunities and challenges we all face. I love it because it defies convention, and is loaded with brilliant people and an endlessly surprising agenda. I love it because, like my work, it isn’t pigeon-holed into any one focus.

It’s one of those things where the sum is far greater than the parts.

The 2014 Symposium agenda came out this weekend, and I’m so honoured to be a speaker again this year. My talk is called Sawdust, Empty Bottles and Moustaches: A Retelling of the Co-operative Story and I’m working on it now, telling the genesis story of the co-operative movement and linking it to today’s surge of the collaborative economy, and drawing on my very early experience on the Board of Modo. We’ll see how it all comes together, but I’m having a great time putting it together and thinking through the narrative.

So, think seriously about joining us in Austin, Texas this September 11th and 12th for what will promise to be an amazing time. The Super Earlybird discount ends on March 31st, and you can get in for only $329 (and if you’re a credit union employee, you’re eligible for an additional $100 discount).

Thanks for your vote and support.


Thank you! I am so humbled and honoured to have been elected to the Board of Directors of the Modo Co-operative. It’s a great organization, and I look forward to being useful to the organization, the management and the members as we all work to develop “vibrant communities created through sustainable transportation”.

I deeply appreciate all the Modo members who voted for me, as well as any of you who endorsed me, or simply expressed support. It means a lot to me!


Why I want to be elected to the Modo Board.

I’m running for election to the Modo Co-operative Board of Directors. If you’re a Modo member, I’d love to earn your vote online or at the AGM.

If you’re not from around here, you may wonder, what’s Modo?

Modo is a not-for-profit carsharing co-operative incorporated in 1997 to foster carsharing and raise awareness about the benefits of sharing cars over individual ownership.

Modo Co-op

Why do I want to serve on the Board of Modo? Well, I have four main reasons, actually. Here’s my campaign video, and my reasons are spelled out below.

My first reason is that I’m a co-operator at heart. I love co-ops for their democratic and community ownership model, and have belonged to many co-ops over the years. I lived in a housing co-op, where I served on the Board as Treasurer, and currently work at Vancity, a financial co-operative and one of this area’s great supporters of co-op development. In 2009, Vancity sent me to Bologna, Italy to study co-ops with a few members of our staff, our Board and our community partners in a region where co-ops flourish and prosper. I believe I can help make Modo a stronger co-op.

My second reason is that I’m a digital leader. I worked as a digital strategist and producer for well over a decade, and for many years at Vancity I was the Director of Digital & Community Engagement where I oversaw online banking, our intranet, social media and other digital channels. My experience will serve me well at Modo because digital tools are crucial to members to book our cars and engage with Modo, and we support other car sharing co-ops through licensing our online booking system.

This is me at the party after last year's AGM.

This is me at the Modo party after last year’s AGM.

My third reason is my strong community investment experience. As Vancity’s Director of Business & Community Development I lead a team that invests Vancity’s assets in community projects, organizations, entrepreneurs and companies that contribute to a more equitable, sustainable and vibrant place to live and work. I understand the role Modo plays in our community ecosystem, shaping the transportation and community infrastructure required for a sustainable, inclusive future.

My fourth and final reason is that I’m very passionate about Modo. I strongly admire Modo’s brand focused on “disownership” – a brand that competes very effectively against larger corporate players. I am fascinated by the sharing economy, and I believe I can help Modo enable more people not to own a car of their own (or at least a second car), which is critical to reduce greenhouse gases and increase our region’s livability. I have been excited about being on the Modo Board for the past year since I attended last year’s AGM.

I’d be deeply honoured to be on the Modo Board if the members choose me to represent them. If you’re a Modo member, I do hope you’ll consider voting for me online or at the AGM.

Thank you,

Visiting a Glaswegian credit union.

20110731-073929.jpgI was lucky enough to be asked to speak at the World Credit Union Conference, which took place last month in Glasgow. I spoke about Vancity’s five year history with social media, and some of what we’ve learned and achieved. It was an amazing experience, full of people from around the world who believe that access to fair credit is an economic imperative and a vital community service. I met with people from around the world whose credit unions are the only option for people in their communities to get access to a safe place to put their money and an ethical and reliable place to access some amount of credit to get ahead.

One of the best experiences I had while there was visiting a local credit union. For me, it was a real eye opener.

We visited the Drumchapel Credit Union, located in the North section of the city, and one of the oldest credit unions in Scotland. We met with their staff – some of whom are volunteers – and some members of their Board.

From their website:

In many areas Credit Unions give their members access to credit, that they would not be able to obtain from most other financial institutions or would have to pay a high price for.

Coming from British Columbia, I made an assumption that any credit union operating in a modern, wealthy country like Canada or Scotland would be pretty similar. I assumed that they had a membership that needed reasonably sophisticated services like online banking and mortgages – things I associate with the credit unions I know. But this credit union services an impoverished community, with high unemployment, facing issues of social inclusion and integration. Their members simply wouldn’t get service from a bank or other financial institutions. They are the unbanked. If it wasn’t for Drumchapel Credit Union, some of their members would resort to the underground economy, which would put their money, and perhaps personal well-being, in jeopardy.

Some of their staff are volunteers partly because unemployment is so high, and partly because their small credit union performs a vital community service and people in the community feel obligated to support it how they can.

The group of us visiting the credit union were mostly from Canada, Australia, Ireland and the US – all reasonably wealthy and modern organizations – and we were all moved by the spirit of the staff, the commitment of the Board members, the necessity to the local community and the graciousness and hospitality of everyone we met. I think we were all touched, and reminded of the roots of our own organizations, many of which began for similar reasons to provide critical community banking services to their communities.

It was the most memorable part of an amazing trip. Anyone reading who cares about credit unions and the vital community service a financial co-operative should be performing should think about attending a World Council of Credit Unions conference. For me, it was an experience I’m honored to have had, and consider to be a highlight of my career.