Strathcona close to winning $80,000 Aviva Community Fund -BUT

They still need some votes FROM YOU. Before reading further, if you want to live/work/play in or just see a greener healthier Strathcona then click here, then spread the word and make it happen! The deadline for the contest is on the 15th and Strathcona is VERY CLOSE to making the cut. If you want to know what all the excitement is about here’s what the $80,000 would go towards:

  • Edible plants would provide new opportunities for local food production. Using native plants would reduce the resources required for their maintenance thus minimizing the ecological footprint of each garden.
  • By creating micro gardens in Strathcona more green space would be accessible throughout the neighbourhood.
  • This project would also reduce spaces available for criminal activity through the principles of Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design. A public place that lacks significant ownership interest is often perceived by some as places where criminal activity is supported. By converting underutilized spaces into gardens, the BIA would help reduce areas that encourage crime.
  • The most profound benefit of this project would be the generation of green jobs for individuals with job readiness barriers and inner city youth. The youth will gain tangible job experience

Let’s make it happen! All it takes is a click of the mouse (and sending of a link).



Strathcona BIA Sustainability 3.0: Redefining Green

If you own or operate a business in downtown Vancouver or EastVan (Strathcona, Gastown, Hastings-Sunrise, Chinatown) or know anyone who does, please pass word on about the upcoming business sustainability expo being held by the Strathcona Business Improvement Association. AND if you know of any green companies interested in sponsoring this great event let them know too!

The Strathcona BIA will be hosting the small business sustainability expo on September 28, 2010 | 3-7pm | at the Japanese Language Hall (475 Alexander St.) and it is an excellent opportunity for you to promote your business and showcase the steps you are taking to be green- maybe learn a trick or two along the way!

Enhance the competitive advantage of your business and be part of the progressive sustainable business community in the Strathcona Green Zone.

For more information dowload Sustainability 3 0 Sponsorship Opportunities Updated or contact:

Sponsorship Inquiries: Purdy Jones
Green Zone Inquiries: Sophie Agbonkhese

Share your ideas on the creation of a green community economic development commission

BOB Business and Social Enterprise Developer, Brian Smith,  has been asked to participate in the City of Vancouver’s Greenest City Working Group on the Green Economy.   The Group is being convened by the Vancouver Economic Development Commission (VEDC).

At the first meeting of the group, there were six identified priority areas for which the group agreed to establish sub-committees.  Each sub-committee’s first objective was to prepare a short document on the priority area for the next meeting on July 14th. This draft document is to outline the main opportunity in the specific area, along with 3-5 actions that could lead to green job growth. The Working Group will then research these recommendations and incorporate them into a draft implementation plan for the Greenest City initiative, which will be open for further comment by the entire External Advisory Committee.

The sub-committee that Brian has proposed and is interested in helping to steer concerns Community Economic Development.  This applies directly to the inner-city and people who have barriers to employment, but has positive implications in other neighbourhoods too.

In Brian’s words:

…CED is applicable across the City and, in turn, could benefit a variety of neighbourhoods, small businesses, social enterprises, co-ops and people. Given the City’s apparent commitment to the Greenest City initiative, I feel there is a good opportunity to advance some CED in Vancouver.  BUT, I need your help! So, please reply to BOB with your respective interest and time availability in helping to shape a CED strategy that can be included in the Greenest City Implementation Plan.



Please read Brian’s overview of the CED Sub-committee below:

Community Economic Development (CED) for the Greenest City

CED is a holistic approach to economic development involving the mobilization of resources from various economic and non-economic sectors in the community with the intention of building local capacity and local solutions.  It is particularly relevant to the world’s greenest city as it uses local resources, which generally are lower in carbon intensity, to find local and more sustainable solutions to local problems.  Integrating CED into the green economy strategies for Vancouver’s Greenest City ambitions compliments the more traditional macro-economic development strategies by integrating localized approaches with broader global outreach strategies. The benefits of a CED approach include:  local employment, local investment, increased local capacity and commitment, local spending in the local economy, and appropriate sustainable solutions to local challenges.

Goal: Foster green business development and associated job creation for Vancouver’s marginalized inner-city residents

Action 1: Apply a CED Lens to all programs and policies of the City, where each department, program, grant, expenditure from parks and social development to legal services and planning would eventually be able to articulate the social, economic and environmental impact of their work/business/purchasing.

Action 1a: Establish a City of Vancouver funded Community Economic Development Commission that would:

  • work internally applying the CED Lens and externally facilitating CED on the ground;
  • develop and implement procurement policy that directly benefits co-operatives, social enterprises and small businesses that are committed to hiring people with barriers to employment; and,
  • educate community (NGOs, workers, and businesses) about realistic opportunities for green job and green business development

Action 1b: Institutionalize – as part of any development permit process, require  a Community Benefits Agreements (CBAs) as a necessary component of all new developments (for local jobs, procurement, and/or training).

Action 2: Establish a green zone (may need an incentive attached) in the DTES for piloting green enterprise development projects.

Action 2a: Develop employment agreements with incentives for medium to large size green businesses to hire people with barriers to employment.

Action 2b: Establish and administer a green CED fund to facilitate green employment or business development projects in the inner-city;

Action 2c: By way of an immediate pilot project, establish, through the allocation of City-owned land, an Urban Farm Network that trains and hires people with barriers to employment

Action 3: Develop and direct education and training in green collar vocations to people with barriers to employment.

Please comment below or contact Brian directly at to share your thoughts and ideas.

Why Vancouver’s inner-city crystalizes the green paradigm shift

It’s often these days that we find the word problem replaced by the words challenge or opportunity. Sometimes this is appropriate and useful, but Van Jones in his book The Green Collar Economy, clearly demonstrates why the word problem should not be dropped from our lexicon. His book seems to be increasingly more relevant to Vancouver’s inner-city.

The increasing divide between rich and poor is more than a challenge or opportunity, it is a problem. Perhaps for those on the more comfortable side of the equation it’s a challenge or opportunity, but for the growing bottom percentage? Access to clean potable water in developing nations is more than a challenge, and for those struggling to find it it’s a problem far more than an opportunity. The myriad environmental, social and economic disruptions we’ve created from years of exponential production and consumption are more than just an opportunity or challenge, collectively they have become a problem of global scale.

The reason why it’s important to acknowledge that there are problems is because it creates the urgency to recognize problem solvers. Without problems how can we even have problem solvers? Challenges and opportunities are indicative of competitive language, the kind born out of free market ideologies. They denote opportunism, and that’s fine. We need opportunists to capitalize on the wealth of opportunities in the fast emerging green economy, but to Jones it goes deeper than this.  In the Green Collar Economy the challenges and opportunities that will help to create equitable wealth come from solving these environmental and social problems. It’s more than opportunities within an emerging economy, it’s about the health of human society and the living planet we depend on. Because of this, the people who are most in need of problem solving  naturally become crucial problem solvers themselves:

“We cannot afford that kind of moral shortfall. To solve our global problems, we need to engage and unleash the genius of all people, at all levels of society. Some of the minds that can solve our toughest problems are undoubtedly trapped behind prison bars, stuck behind desks in schools without decent books, or isolated in rural communities. A green economy that is designed to pull them in—as skilled laborers, innovators, inventors, and owners—will be more dynamic, more robust, and better able to save the Earth.”

Van’s book and his theories on job creation and environmentalism ring particularly true right here in Vancouver, which is simultaneously facing the challenges of rejuvenating the ‘poorest postal code in Canada‘ and  becoming the greenest city in the world.

One of the crucial points Van makes is that this Green economy should not just be embodied by the health conscientious crowd who drive hybrids, eat organic specialty foods or buy fair trade coffee.  It’s a paradigm shift where members of society at all levels have an important role to play as laborers, planners, community leaders, investors and innovators. This perceived eco-elitism can be replaced with what he terms eco-populism, whereby those who would otherwise view being green as expensive and detached from their lives can find green options more accessible. I would say the same for those who view the green economy predominantly as emerging technologies, renewable energy and other higher-order activities. This is also part of it yes, but let’s not let the large venture capital numbers eclipse the large transformative power of communities in action.

Environmentalism here in Vancouver has demonstrated elitism as it has everywhere. Looking at it as technologies and capital investment is only a fraction of this paradigm shift. Focusing on eco-chic products, organic free range specialty foods, and other consumer goods is also only a fraction, and some argue it is the more shallow fraction at that. A rethink of how we interact within and create society, including a fundamental rethink of the shapes, sizes and flow of cities is another fraction. The deconstruction and reconstruction of urban space, repurposing of materials, waste diversion, on-site energy creation, increasing of urban agriculture and a complete re-adjustment from the old industrial paradigm to a far more equitable and community-centric paradigm will take more than Soy Lattes and Hybrid cars, no slight to either. And it will take more than investment in higher order R&D as important as this is. This change is already happening here in Vancouver, along with groundbreaking technological R&D and delicious organic fair trade Lattes we’ve become renowned for.

Referring back to the list of recipients from BOB’s Consultant Fees Program we can see Jones’ paradigm shift taking form here in Vancouver’s inner-city. Two visions, one of a rejuvenated inner-city that historically has struggled with many social and environmental challenges, and one of Vancouver becoming the Greenest city in the world seem to be coalescing; where an experience of community economic development in which grassroots innovation and sweat equity are translating into problem solving is unfolding. This kind of problem solving creates opportunities and builds community capacity through and for an increasingly engaged population. If we can continue to do this here and continue to do this collectively, in other cities and towns around the planet, then we’ve created the global shift that Jones envisions. Like that old saying, “death by a thousand cuts”, the old paradigm is cast away from our disparate but collective movement. But how can we recognize and actualize a movement that is inclusive and simultaneously comprehensive? Societal relationships are complex and tense; particularly the relationships between those with seemingly little power and those with seemingly unimaginable power. Jones proposes that we recognize collective ideals that are clear and simple, yet able to bridge the complexities between diverse stakeholders, and appeal broadly.

Movements need principles. History teaches us that it is impossible to guide a complex series of deep changes without grounding efforts in unchanging ideals. Strategies can be complex, but goals and ideas should be clear. Bearing this in mind Jones puts forth 3 principles:

1. Equal Protection for All.

2. Equal Opportunity for All.

3. Reverence for All Creation.

These principles can appeal to free market enthusiasts eager for opportunistic reward, to problem solvers in inner-cities or rural areas, and to those who feel strong about either the social aspects of environmentalism or the ecological.

The challenges we face moving forward will require bottom-up as well as top-down solutions. The middle ground in this continuum is where the policy makers mix with the problem solvers and where the innovators mix with the investors. Here in Vancouver the inner-city/DTES is one of those places, and I hope that these principles will continue to become the pillars that support that middle ground here and elsewhere.

I recommend Van Jones’ Green Collar Economy to anyone interested in Vancouver’s development on the whole, and in its inner-city in particular.

Gaining Ground Summit 2.0 Eco-Logical

BOB and members of the Green Inner-City Cluster are excited to participate once again in the Gaining Ground Summit taking place this October 4th to 7th here in Vancouver. The summit will explore the green economy, sustainability, building capacity, emerging theories of governance and industry collaboration, greentech/cleantech and other fascinating issues.

This year’s speakers include Mayor of Vancouver, Gregor Robertson, Deputy City Manager for the City of Vancouver, Sadhu Johnston (who has contributed to leading sustainability policies in Chicago, Portland and now here) and Carol Sanford, an acclaimed speaker considered a leader of leaders. Her consulting clients include Fortune 500 businesses and emerging ventures such as Seventh Generation.

The Keynote speaker will be Jared Blumenfeld, currently the Director of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 9.

About Jared Blumenfeld:

Jared Blumenfeld is the Director of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 9—which includes California, much of the U.S. Southwest and Hawaii. With a background in international environmental law and an active career with the Natural Resources Defense Council, Jared was appointed in 2002 by San Francisco to build and lead its Department of Environment.

Under his leadership, San Francisco initiated landmark policy and laws, starting with precautionary principles and reaching into every area of urban practice. He believes that international and other broad-based frameworks are well-intentioned but produce limited on-the-ground results. During his tenure, San Francisco convened World Environment Day that brought 80 of the world’s largest cities together to define urban
sustainability and map strategies.

EPA Region 9 includes 47 million people, 4 of the 10 largest cities in the U.S., and 24 of the hundred largest.

Blumenfeld comes to Gaining Ground on Tuesday, October 4th to speak about the adoption of new technologies, measuring what’s happening, and the sweet spot where policy and stakeholder engagement merge. He will also lead a policy salon during the afternoon workshop portion of the program.

To register and for more information please visit:

Great urban gardening and sustainability workshops July 11th

This post originally appeared in the Building Opportunities with Business Blog.

Strathcona proves once again that it’s fast becoming one of the funnest and most forward thinking parts of the city! I read the newsletter from Strathcona & Cottonwoods Gardens regarding their upcoming open house on July 11th and I figured it was so good that I’d just paste it in full into the BOB blog. Please pass the word on about these great open house events!

Magical Gardens in the midst of the city: Sunday July 11th from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm

From 10:00 am to 2:00 pm on July 11th you can visit eight magical acres, sway to live music with Tambai Marimba, learn from free gardening & sustainability workshops, see one of Vancouver’s oldest off-grid solar houses, eat scrumptious goodies, sample local garden honey, snatch wonderful plants at bargain prices, & celebrate the 25th Anniversary of Vancouver’s first community garden and the opening of Cottonwood’s new garden (the first community garden fully accessible for seniors and people with disabilities!)  Everyone is welcome!

Strathcona & Cottonwood Gardens Annual Open House takes place at

Prior/Hawks * Raymur/Malkin

For more info call (604) 608-0384 or (604) 253-3384 or visit their sites: or

Open House Events

Live Music!  Tambai Marimba!  Fiddlers!

Sway to the music of awesome fiddlers or dance your socks off with Tambai Marimba, Vancouver’s great youth Marimba Band. Tambai Marimba: Cottonwood Garden, 10:30am to 1:30pm.  Fiddlers: Strathcona Garden, 11am to 2pm.

Free Gardening & Sustainability Workshops

How to Keep Chickens in Your Backyard for Complete Beginners/Southland Farms: Sunday, July 11, 10:30am

Thinking about having your own chickens and fresh eggs?  Jordan Maynard, Manager of Southlands Heritage Farm, will help you understand the basics of keeping chickens in your backyard.  You’ll leave this workshop with the confidence to buy, care for, and enjoy your own backyard hens.  Workshop organized by Village Vancouver.

Permaculture/Vancouver Permaculture Meet-up Group: Sunday, July 11, 10:30am

Permaculture is an important way of letting the earth take care of itself.  Learn basic permaculture techniques from the Vancouver Permaculture Meet-up Group.  Workshop organized by Village Vancouver.

Winter Gardening/Grants Gourmet Gardens: Sunday, July 11, 1pm

Want to have fresh vegetables from your own garden year round?  Certified organic farmer & edible landscaper, Grant Watson, will teach you the basics of what/when to plant, so you can harvest from your garden in the coldest season.  Workshop organized by Village Vancouver.

Corsage Making: Sunday, July 11, 12-2

Learn how to make corsages from flowers and leaves picked that morning at Cottonwood. You can have a corsage custom-made for you, make your own, or choose one that has been made.

Compost Making/City Farmer: Sunday, July 11, 10:30am-2pm

Learn how to make compost from City Farmer’s Compost Hotline Staff.

Birdhouse Making for Kids: Sunday, July 11

This hands-on workshop teaches kids how to make their own birdhouse.  Each participant will be able to make and keep a wooden birdhouse they have made.

Bee-keeping demonstration: Sunday, July 11, 10-2

Bee-keepers from each garden will demonstrate basic bee-keeping techniques and teach people about bees and their needs.

Solar Eco-House Demo: Sunday, July 11, 10:30am – 2pm, Strathcona Community Garden

See Strathcona’s wonderful solar house.  This garden house generates its own power with solar panels, re-uses all its water with a grey-water recovery system, was built with recycled materials, and has a licensed composting toilet.  Built over 20 years ago by teenage women learning carpentry skills, this is one of Vancouver’s oldest off-the-grid houses.

Magical Oasis in the Midst of the City: Garden Tours

Please join us for tours of Vancouver’s oldest community gardens, as we celebrate 25 years of community building, local food production and sustainability.  Recipient of a City of Vancouver Heritage Award, Strathcona and Cottonwood Community Gardens feature eight magical acres with 350 individual garden plots; countless varieties of native and exotic perennials; one of the largest collections of heirloom apple trees in BC; thriving honeybees; a solar house that generates its own power, recycles water, and has a licensed composting toilet; beautiful water gardens, terraced gardens, oval gardens, fragrant gardens, reflecting ponds; an Asian garden, native garden, permaculture garden, wetlands; cherry, apple, plum, mulberry, fig, pear, persimmon & Asian pear trees; blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, currants, Saskatoon berries, gooseberries, grapes & kiwis; eight types of bamboo; nut trees; and many ornamental trees and shrubs.  There are two solar greenhouses; toolsheds; extensive composting; and many species of birds, butterflies and hummingbirds.  A pair of bald eagles nests overhead. Garden Tours: 10:30am to 1:30pm, at Strathcona and Cottonwood Gardens

Cutting Edge Sustainability: Solar House

Strathcona’s Eco-house is a model of sustainable building.  This garden house generates its own power with solar panels, re-uses all its water with a grey-water recovery system, was built with recycled materials, and has a licensed composting toilet.  Built over 20 years ago by teenage women learning carpentry skills, this is one of Vancouver’s oldest off-the-grid houses. Learn how the eco-house was built, principles of grey water recovery, solar power: 10am to 2pm, Strathcona Garden.

Wonderful Plant Sale!  Bargain Prices!  Great Plants!

Strathcona & Cottonwood’s Annual Plant Sale features an incredible variety of plants at bargain prices including perennials, vegetables, heirloom fruit trees & berry bushes, bamboo, flowers, shrubs, native plants, shade lovers, sun lovers & more!  All of the plants are grown by our gardeners or donated by local nurseries.  Prices are awesome and the range is impressive.  Over 600 plants at bargain prices.

Plant sale starts at 10am, Sunday, July 11, at Strathcona Community Garden (corner of Prior & Hawks).

Opening of New Garden Fully Accessible for Seniors and People with Disabilities: 11:30am

Join us as we celebrate the opening of this new ¾ acre inclusive garden that is designed to enable everyone, regardless of age or physical ability, to garden.  Based on the principles of universal design, the garden features raised beds that are high enough for seniors and people with disabilities to garden from a seated position; pathways 3-4’ wide and surfaced with a firm surface appropriate for persons with walkers, canes, strollers and wheelchairs; water taps at a convenient height for people who have difficulty bending and close to raised beds so that carrying a hose will not be needed; a tool shed with easy access and reachable tools; meeting spaces with wide-enough, smooth surfaces.

Official Opening of New Accessible Garden: 11:30am.  This new part of Cottonwood is along Raymur, at the corner of Raymur & William, across from the Food Bank, on the east side of Strathcona Park.

Honey!  Local Bees!

Honey sales from our own bees, who thrive on the diversity of flowering plants in our gardens.  The honey is fresh, local, and delicious.  Come early!  The honey usually sells quickly.  Honey Sales: 10am at Strathcona Garden and at Cottonwood Garden.

Silent Auction
If you haven’t been to our Silent Auction before, you’re in for a visual treat.  Beautiful hanging baskets with fuchsias in full bloom, heritage apple trees, and a stunning Passion Flower vine, to name but a few of the entries we’ve had — all generous donations from local nurseries and gardeners.  Come and check it out and maybe you’ll go home with a spectacular plant to highlight your garden or patio.  Sunday, July 11, Strathcona Garden, 10am to 1pm.

Native Plant Tour
Come to the Native Garden at Cottonwood and we’ll show you which BC native plants you can grow to replace some of the invasive plants that have come into BC.  Sunday, July 11, 10-2.


Strathcona Garden & Cottonwood Garden are sister gardens located next to each other in and next to Strathcona Park., on the east side of Vancouver, on Prior Street, between Main & Clark.

Strathcona Garden is located just west of Strathcona Park, on Prior & Hawks.

Cottonwood Garden is located along the south side of Strathcona Park, on Malkin, between Raymur & Hawks.

The new accessible garden expansion is on Raymur, opposite the Food Bank (1150 Raymur).

The two gardens host the Open House together

More Information about Strathcona & Cottonwood Gardens

Strathcona & Cottonwood Community Gardens are the oldest community gardens in Vancouver, and are an awesome story of what people in the community can do to transform the urban landscape.  These beautiful eight acre gardens were built on dump sites — a massive community effort transformed the land into a magical oasis & self-help organic food centre in the midst of the city.  Hundreds of volunteers composted new soil, laid water pipes, built a recycled off-grid solar house with grey water recovery & a composting toilet, designed & built over 300 garden plots, built 3 solar greenhouses, and planted an amazing collection of native trees & bushes, heirloom fruit trees, berry bushes, perennials, etc.  There are terraced gardens, oval gardens, fragrant gardens, water gardens, a permaculture garden designed/maintained by young people, a native garden, Asian garden, the largest collection of heirloom apple trees in BC, wetlands, honey bees, and many species of birds, butterflies and hummingbirds.  A pair of bald eagles nests overhead.

The July 11 Open House will be very special as Strathcona celebrates 25 years of community building, local food production and sustainability, and Cottonwood opens a new accessible garden expansion, which will be fully accessible for seniors and people with disabilities.

Strathcona’s 25th anniversary is a watershed for community gardens throughout the city.  When people started Strathcona, the concept of community gardens in Vancouver did not exist and there was a lot of resistance to the idea.  It took a lot of hard work and struggle to get the gardens to happen and to eventually have gardens all over the city.

Community gardens all over the city did not spring out from nowhere, but from the work and support of many people.  Community gardens are now not only accepted, but the City and the Park Board have had to develop policy around it because of the great demand for community gardens throughout the city. We can all be proud of contributing to that.

Cottonwood’s new accessible expansion is the first truly integrated accessible community garden in Vancouver, which will enable seniors and people with disabilities to participate in community gardening and will make a real difference to many people.  Based on the principles of universal design, the garden features accessible raised beds that are high enough for seniors and people with disabilities to garden from a seated position; pathways 3-4’ wide and surfaced with a firm surface appropriate for persons with walkers, canes, strollers and wheelchairs; water taps high enough for access & close to plots so that carrying a hose will not be needed; a tool shed with easy access and reachable tools; meeting spaces with wide-enough, smooth surfaces.

There are hundreds of community gardens in Vancouver, but seniors and people with disabilities are often not able to garden in them simply because they are not properly designed and have barriers.  Paths between plots are too narrow for wheelchairs to pass, beds are in the ground or too low or wide for people with disabilities to reach, water taps are too low, path surfaces are too bumpy or sloped, tool sheds cannot be entered etc.  Seniors face similar issues bending to the ground, to taps, carrying heavy hoses, etc.  Even in existing gardens where there are raised beds, the paths are often covered with inaccessible surfaces like bark mulch or gravel, so seniors and people with disabilities are segregated from the rest of the gardeners.

This special new garden is designed to change that and will enable everyone, regardless of age or physical ability, to garden and be part of all garden activities.  It will thus make a significant difference to many people.

For more information about the marvellous July 11 Open House

Please call (604) 608-0384 or (604) 253-3384

or email

or visit or

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