Changing everything.

As I wrote in my last two posts, I’m exploring this journey of engagement I’ve been on during my five-plus years at Vancity. My role, as I see it, is to illuminate the network of staff members, personal members, business members and not for profit, social enterprise and co-operative members that make up Vancity.

Reimagining ChangeEverything.

A big advancement we’ve recently made is a total reimagining of This social network – that we launched way back in 2006 when Facebook required a .edu email address and Twitter didn’t yet exist – had one big problem: Vancity, a major contributor to social change in our area, was at complete arms length from the activity on the site. Back in 2006 this made perfect sense, very few people in any given organization could comfortably and confidently engage via social media. Most people just weren’t there. For the last couple of years Kate and I have been struggling with what to do about that, how to bring the site closer to what Vancity does.

The HubA couple of weeks back, we relaunched ChangeEverything as The Hub. It’s a brand new community, and is in the early stages of growing (so forgive it for being a little sparse as we soft launch).

Why call it The Hub? A hub has something at its core, a focal point around which activity revolves, and in our case that centre is Vancity. There is an illustration on the focus page of the site that explains the concept, and what we’re trying to achieve.

The Hub is where Vancity can illuminate the network of staff members, individual members, business members and not for profit members that make up what Vancity is. We need to break down the silos and walls, and get real honest conversation going about our well-being. Financial well-being, social well-being and environmental well-being. That’s what Vancity is all about – that’s our vision and our brand.

Where ChangeEverything came from.

The concept of ChangeEverything sprang from a Vancity marketing campaign from 2006 (you can change everything if you change where you bank). It isn’t language we use internally or externally anymore, and as a result the concept of the site doesn’t connect to anything else we’re doing. Despite all its success, staff and members have found the purpose of the site confusing, and engagement among staff on ChangeEverything has been very low.

Perhaps most importantly, the very notion of ChangeEverything is not our MO – we’re not about changing everything. We’re pretty committed to some key areas of focus where we believe change is required, and we feel we can provide authentic leadership as an organization.

One feature of the site that I’m most proud of is the impact map. This is one of the key places where we can answer the question many of our members have: I know Vancity does amazing things to support community, but what are you doing in my community? The impact map showcases grants we’ve given, and will expand to other success stories, like our impact lending and community investments. It’s a way of bringing what we do to life, and I’m pretty excited about it.

Where The Hub is going.

The goal (and the site is nascent so this isn’t obvious yet) is to have employees from different areas of Vancity (different branches, the Community Investment division, our Community Foundation, etc…) all becoming organizations on The Hub to represent what they do in a natural, human way. These employees, under the Vancity umbrella, can interact and engage with our individual members and the public around what Vancity is doing in community and what we do with our members’ precious assets. Business members and individual members can interact – perhaps businesses can offer exclusive deals to their fellow members to encourage shopping local, which is good for the regional economy. Not for profit members can reach out to the network to share stories of the brave work they’re doing and their outcomes and impacts in our communities. Perhaps they can find willing donors and volunteers from among our staff and membership. It’s a powerful network that I believe, with connections and stories, can be transformative. Vancity is a catalyst for this kind of activity – this is why a local credit union invests so much back into communities, for the holistic well-being of our membership.

The original ChangeEverything, from a marketing perspective, was a brand play. It extended our brand in a way that reflected our differentiation. The aim is that The Hub will be about the business. As we move forward with key impact areas where we lend and invest to create community impact in a profitable way (such as local, organic food and energy efficiency) this site can help make us the place to come to for these kinds of deals. It will increase word of mouth among businesses and organizations looking for financing in these growth areas that we’ve identified as good for the community and good for the company, as well as individuals interested in supporting community impact directly through their investments and credit.

This is the reason why our approach to social media – and especially Twitter – is so important. We need to accelerate the emerging culture among employees who are ready to jump onto social media on behalf of Vancity. If The Hub is to come to life, we need a cross-section of our staff out there and engaging, just like they do in real life, attending events and getting involved with the community.

So check out The Hub. I hope, over time, it can help people experience what Vancity is, rather than just being told what it is, and ultimately illuminate the network that exists between and among our staff and our members.

My final guest column.

My final Guest Column on has been published. It’s called Reflections on Bologna – It’s all about the Social, and attempts to sum up my main takeaways from my amazingly inspiring adventure in Bologna. (check out parts 1 and 2 of my journey, or all my blog posts about it).

It also gives me a chance to explore the term social. Something I’ve been wanting to do for a while.

What I know is, it was all about the social. The connections we developed among the group of participants are strong and deep, and will serve a great purpose as we all struggle to make full sense of, and take action on, what we learned. The personal social connections made the greatest impact on me; but I also come back with a greater sense of the social fabric of our society and how it can be both fragile and incredibly enduring and forceful.

So, it’s led me to think a lot about what social is.

So check it out, and please leave me a comment there with your thoughts.

The last thing I want to do is upload a boatload of photos from the trip. All in good time…

Cooperation on The Drive.

I have a blog post on about something I’ve been thinking about on this trip I call Independent Collectivism. Take a read.

There is one area in Vancouver that I think comes closest to this model. After several years of living in the Commercial Drive neighbourhood, it strikes me that the attitude of that area, the number of coops, both retail and housing, the defiance but focus on equity, and the Italian roots is perhaps something we should be looking closer at for inspiration.

Those funky areas in your town where the coop bookstore is and the indie bands play may be that same kind of neighbourhood in your town. Maybe there is something we can learn from those neighbourhoods and how they operate.