Over 13 years ago, I left a permanent job to take a 3-month contract doing digital project management and marketing at Vancity. It probably wasn’t the “responsible” thing to do, especially seeing that my wife and I had an eleven-month old at home. Yet, it was the totally responsible thing to do – responsible to a higher purpose.
I had realized some time earlier that I needed to live a life that reflected my values. My work had been a major disconnect from my values. I had spent several years working in digital marketing in Seattle, Los Angeles and Vancouver, and I was feeling more and more weary of helping to sell more shoes, motorcycles or movie tickets to truly terrible movies (and a couple of really truly amazing ones too). This wasn’t how I wanted to spend my life.
I feel incredibly grateful to Vancity for giving me a job where purpose and productivity are so easily married. I have received many opportunities within the organization – I mean where else could a digital marketing manager be promoted and shift roles and shimmy around and end up in charge of business banking and community investment? Amazing!
But all good things must come to an end.
In mid-June I will start a new adventure as CEO of Brightside Community Homes Foundation, one of the province’s largest not-for-profit affordable housing providers. Brightside is dedicated to making housing accessible for those who struggle to meet the demands of market housing in Vancouver, one of the most unaffordable cities on the planet
After many years of working in community investment, I am extremely excited to move from an important enabling role, providing financial support to local businesses and organizations, to delivering services and helping tackle the affordable housing crisis in my home city.
The people at Vancity I want to thank and recognize are just too numerous to mention. Leaving the people is always the hardest part, and the people at Vancity – as well as those I’ve met in the wider Credit Union movement over the last decade – are magnificent. I wouldn’t be who I am or where I am without them.
I am thrilled to join the team at Brightside to help play a larger and direct role in ensuring our neighbours and community members have safe, stable and appropriate housing. I am excited about the work ahead and to help create meaningful impact in our community.
The election season at Modo, the local car sharing co-operative, is getting underway. We’re currently looking for candidates to stand for our upcoming election. As board chair at Modo, I wrote a blog post explaining why I initially ran to be on the Modo board and why I enjoy being on the board so much.
If you’re a Modo member, are interested in co-ops, mobility, the sharing economy, transportation issues in our local communities, and getting some good board experience, consider running for the Modo co-op board. It’s an opportunity I wouldn’t trade for anything.
Vancity has partnered with SFU Public Square’s Community Summit for four years now. We see our partnership as a good fit. SFU, through its Public Square, invites people to grapple with issues we face in society: inequity, local economy, the future of innovation. Their mission is “to be the go-to convener of serious and productive conversations about issues of public concern”.
At Vancity, we’re looking at ways to harness the collective power of our members’ assets to invest in areas that create healthy communities. That’s our role as this region’s values-bases banking institution. In order to do that, we need places where we can convene our members and the public to discuss and deliberate on steps we can take to create communities where we can all thrive. A good partnership is one that can bring more people into that conversation and include more voices and hear from people with diverse opinions, perspectives, and backgrounds. We can’t solve problems and create new opportunities for a more co-operative economy, a cleaner environment, or greater social inclusion unless we partner together.
This year, the focus of SFU Public Square is on city-building. The aim is to “invigorate the public conversation on how people can connect with their cities, find their voice, and enjoy increased participation in civic life.” Nothing could be more important. A disengaged citizenry means that key issues aren’t being addressed and is a recipe for complacency and cynicism.
In order to engage around these vital issues, SFU has focused on the role that the arts can play as a facilitator of dialogue, new thinking, and reflection. To get us outside our experience to build empathy for other points of view.
I look forward to being challenged and inspired to rethink my assumptions and grapple with some new ideas, and as a result, focus on how to make our region better for all.
Iron & Wine at the Commodore Ballroom, November 3, 2013
When I was growing up, Vancouver was a much smaller city. It was a city that, when I visited the States, many people I met hadn’t heard of (and sometimes they didn’t even realize that Canada extended all the way north of Seattle).
As an avid concert goer, we got a lot of tours coming through Vancouver, but many others skipped us. Now Vancouver is a world-class city and virtually every musician includes us in their itineraries.
I’ve lived in Seattle, Los Angeles and Vancouver, and, having been back for over a decade now, I’ve noticed something remarkable about artists when they play Vancouver. They seem humbled, sometimes ever overwhelmed by the audience’s love and support. Vancouver has some of the best crowds I’ve ever been a part of, and they create fertile ground for some amazing shows. They create an energy that is amazing to be part of, and they create a mood that encourages musicians to perform at their best. In fact, they often remark on how great our crowds are.
I took the shot above when I saw Iron & Wine this past week, and he seemed truly honoured to be playing for us. You could feel the connection between artist and audience – almost a sacred bond of trust. And you know what, I bet he’ll never skip Vancouver when he tours. That energy will keep him coming back for more.
It’s a lesson for all of us. To be grateful and humble and supportive and devoted. To be a great audience and keep our heroes coming back and wanting more. Whether that’s our members or customers, our staff, our colleagues or our boss. It’s a simple lesson from the mosh pits of Vancouver.
For the last year and a half I have been tangentially involved in the redesign of two of Vancity’s branches. It’s been an amazing project, looking beyond the expected excitement about new fit and finish within the branch, and at the kind of business we want to do within the branch and how Vancity can best bring its mission and vision to life in these spaces.
We call these two branches in South Burnaby and Port Coquitlam our prototypes, living labs that opened last month. You can see photos, as well as a video that shows what we’re trying to do and why: