This past weekend on the Backyard Philanthropist our theme was Social Innovation. It is a term that has been tossed around both in the non profit world and the business sector for quite some time. The use of the term and the movement is growing and Canada is definitely becoming a leader.
The term social innovation simply put means new ideas, concepts for social issues. So it could be a new way to educate youth, it would be an idea for urban farming, it could be a concept for provision of health care. The important component of social innovation is that it isn’t necessarily brand ‘new’. The strength of social innovation lies in its aggregate approach to solving issues or barriers in civil society.
It is a multi disciplinary approach that involves partnerships and collaboration between multiple sectors; in particular a cross over of the non profit and for profit, government sectors.
We were thrilled to have Bruce Dewar, the CEO of Lift Partners on our two segments with Gordon Hogg, who is considered the grandfather of Social Innovation here in BC. Gordon also happens to be the MLA for White Rock - South Surrey and is the Parliamentary Secretary for Non Profit Partnerships.
Both Bruce and Gordon spoke to ‘patient capital’ which refers to an ‘investor who is willing to make a financial investment with no expectation of turning a quick return.’
In social innovation this is a really important component. We all know and recognize that in order to solve some of societies ‘wicked problems’ we need long term investment. And that includes financial.
Lift Philanthropy is one of the partners in BC Ideas; ‘a community of action, designed to identify, convene and invest in some of BC’s best social innovations.’
BC Ideas recently announced it’s winners and along with financial supporters like Lift, $270,000 was given to social innovations and innovators across the province.
One of the recipients is the 60 Minute Kids Club. Co founder Curtis Christopherson, owner of Innovative Fitness, is passionate about getting kids moving. I had no idea that only 12% of children and youth in Canada get the recommended 60 minutes of daily physical activity. 60MKC goes into schools across Canada, motives and educates both parents and children about the health benefits of physical activity then provides them access to an online platform. Online kids can track their physical activity, their healthy eating and earn rewards for being most active in their class, in their school, even the most active school in the province.
We were really impressed with Curtis and knowing that 12% stat, advocate every school in the country to get involved.
We also had Leona Gatsby in the studio with us from Decoda Literacy Solutions. Decoda was a funder of BC Ideas and gave out four $5,000 awards to organizations that were advocating and supporting literacy in the province. One thing I learned from Leona is that literacy is not just about reading. Literacy also involves comprehension, and the utilization of language. And we learned that many people in our province struggle with reading, and learning due to poverty, lack of resources in their communities.
Our shows theme resonates on so many levels. We know we need to make changes to our social services in our province. It can be overwhelming, especially for those ‘wicked problems’ as Gordon calls them; homelessness, poverty, mental illness.
We need innovative people creating collaborative new ideas for the public good. The secret according to Gordon and Bruce, is the closer the solution is to the grassroots the more successful. And I have to say, all the recipients of BC Ideas fulfill that model.
I would also argue that there are many many people in our communities who are social innovators and may not even realize. BC Ideas, though the official contest is closed, is still open for those who want to share their own social innovation, maybe find support from business professionals or other like mined organizations and individuals. BC Ideas online platform will remain open as a vehicle for your social innovation.
We encourage you to check out the organizations mentioned, go listen to the Backyard Philanthropist and learn how you can include your own ideas into community development. It can benefit us all…
Maybe social innovation is the new panacea?
I have been fortunate, lately, to be surrounded by healthy people…both in an emotional sense and a physical sense.
This past weekend we were lucky to air a show we taped with Peter Van Stolk, the CEO of SPUD and Dr. Michael Murray, one of the world’s leading authorities on natural medicine. What a pleasure speaking to both of these men. They are well versed and well lived in the world of organic food and it’s health benefits.
Peter uses a phrase we have begun to adapt in our own home ‘food is the new pharmacy’ and it is a phrase Dr. Murray has been advocating for over 30 years through his books, his speaking and his teachings.
When you ‘need’ to create a healthier lifestyle, for whatever reason, it can be extremely overwhelming. As many of you know, it is something I have been delving into for the past year. There is a lot of information out there, A LOT. And depending on the celebrity endorsement, many of it can be misleading if not completely off base.
This week’s Backyard Philanthropy show in particular discussed the discovery of natural foods; go to your farmers market, meet the farmers who are growing beets, strawberries, carrots. Or perhaps, discover the world of free run, non medicated chickens. Or it could be a soap, a piece of clothing.
We are fortunately here in the lower mainland to have access to a lot of farmers markets. In Ladner, we have what I believe, is one of the best Sunday markets. Unfortunately, it only runs from June to September. So during the week and during the winter months, I use SPUD and have been a client on and off since 1987!
Having just completed my Isagenix 30 Day Cleanse, I am now moving into discovering how I can keep my body healthy, make it even stronger, more resistant to disease and stress (something I have plenty of). After 30 days, I lost 15 lbs, and a total of 29 inches off my body combined. On top of that, I feel good and have a lot more energy.
I will still be maintaining my Isagenix program as I value the program and actually really like the French Vanilla shakes. As a non breakfast eater with my hectic lifestyle, it is one of the best lifestyle changes I have made.
On the show, we asked Dr. Murray about juicing, a ‘fad’ that I thought was, well, a fad. Turns out juicing is actually incredibly beneficial to us. It helps us with what I learned regarding ‘free radicals’, increases our absorption of antioxidants, flavins. All of this aides us in reducing the risk of heart disease, developing diabetes, and prevention of many other diseases associated with aging, weight gain, menopause, exposure to unhealthy lifestyles.
So this week, I will be getting a slow juicer from SPUD and have signed on to participate in their new ‘juicing box’ program. Bare in mind, I have never juiced in my entire life and my only experience was when my older sister went through a phase of drinking carrot juice and turned orange!
Dr. Murray did say…’better red than dead’. So maybe my skin will get a lovely red hue from juicing beets out of my Organic Autumn Harvest Juicing Box!!
Stay tuned for what’s next…and how my juicing experience is going! I have become a big fan of Dr. Murray and he challenges anyone to come up with a juice he hasn’t created yet! I take him up on that challenge!
In the meantime, especially during the holiday season, I will forge ahead into creating that optimal lifestyle of health and well being. I start drop in badminton tonight…wish me luck, it’s been 25 years since I played!
And I will fail again.
I opened up a blog this morning from Seth Godin on how ‘non-profits have a charter to be innovators’. Seth explains that non-profits don’t fail enough. That they play it safe, they provide ‘effective aid’ or a ‘palliative’ solution.
Seth articulated something that anyone working in the non-profit sector knows and understands, that there is a bigger issue we need to solve. Take homelessness as an example. We have plenty of organizations, too many if we were to be honest, handing out blankets, creating shelters, developing programs to feed, clothe, aid the homeless.
Now let’s try and count the organizations coming up with innovative solutions or doing innovative discovery as to the root cause of homelessness and being innovative in its eradication; umm yea, not too many. A complex issue, I get that as it requires collaboration with multiple sectors and has a myriad of barriers.
Seth talks to the organizations themselves. I challenge that it is about the actual people in the non-profit sector. My being one of them.
I went into business to solve a problem. It was a big problem, not only to solve but to go into business specifically to solve a non-profit problem. I was met with so much adversity, naysayers, skeptics. I was met by industries that do not embrace change. And for all my success in the process, I still failed…
And I will fail again.
Does that make me a bad person, someone who doesn’t understand the sector? No. It definitely has it’s learning. And boy, have I learned a lot…about myself, about my sector, about the people around me both pro and con.
And I will fail again, and again, and again. And that makes me, and others just like me, great innovators.
As someone who is entrenched in the non-profit world, both as a supporter and a receiver of those ‘palliative’ services we have come to rely on, I look forward to meeting others who have failed…because those are the individuals who ultimately, will solve our communities most devastating social issues.
Heading out to buy a t shirt that has “I failed” written across the chest…
As many of you know, this past year I have been on a journey of health and well being. My wonderful nutritionist, Tricia Sedgwick, is a holistic nutritionist and recently we taped a show for The Backyard Philanthropist and we asked Tricia, what is a ‘holistic’ nutritionist.
Simply put, a holistic nutritionist is a nutritionist who looks at whole health. Whole health is a way of looking at our life wide open and not compartmentalizing the components of our life that make up our well being. Ok, that sounds really foo foo.
We know from experience that if we are struggling physically, it affects us mentally, emotionally. We know that if we are having an emotionally challenged day, it can be physically draining. Everything is connected in one way or another. I won’t go into the philosophical or biological explanations. It is common knowledge, we experience it often and we don’t need to be a rocket scientist to figure that out.
I am emotionally charged. Anyone who knows me in my inner sanctum knows I am driven by emotions; vice or virtue, you be the judge. So when I have a ‘moment’ and am emotionally drained, exhausted, it impacts my whole being.
Lately, I have been dealing with a variety of emotional events. Yesterday, as an example, Sophia had what we believe to be a drop seizure. It was frightening. She merely collapsed, her legs gave way and she was down. Thankfully she was in her bedroom, close to her big soft comfy chair and I was right next to her. The emotions still swirl inside me today. I couldn’t eat yesterday, my thoughts were distracted, I had a headache by the end of the day and emotionally, I was ‘sensitive’.
For the most part, parents like me, are very good at tucking the emotional components inside, in our castle and can move into our day, walk amongst the living.
However, a dozen years later, it can’t NOT impact your whole health. For me, weight gain, hormone imbalances, hair loss, lack of energy, forgetfulness.
The past few months though, I have taken the step of doing a cleanse. It is a first for me. I LOVE food…so anything that deprived me of that love I would run away from, fast.
However, I knew that I needed to cleanse, to clean out all the guk that had built up in my system from years of running with my feet on the gas and the break pedal at the same time.
To my surprise, it has been easy. Really easy. Tricia has been my guide and supporter throughout the process, which is critical in anyone’s success at trying something new. And I am not deprived, far from it.
I order my Harvest Box from SPUD and every week get a delicious assortment of in season produce that I am learning to cook, and am enjoying the process. I have chosen to augment my healthy lifestyle with Isagenix, and am part of the Global Impact Group; health and wellness advocates made up of nutritionists, athletes, do gooders.
The cleanse is coming to a close, 30 days for me and I am happy to say I have lost close to 20lbs, inches off my body, have way more energy, and have a renewed faith that this last year of learning is only the beginning.
Moving into the big give season, I encourage anyone who is a caregiver to give yourself the gift of holistic nutrition…whether you want to lose weight, or perhaps simply not gain over the indulgent holiday season. Or perhaps, you are like me, emotionally drained at best, and need to surround yourself with good people, good nutrition, inside and out.
I have taken a step back the last few months and have been thinking a lot about humanity; not humanity on a global scale but humanity in our own backyard, within our own community. It could be in my professional community, my personal, friends, or family. They all encompass what we would consider our community.
The dictionary defines humanity in three ways, one being “the quality of being humane; kindness; benevolence”. And yet, call me cynical, not everyone who is human is humane. I think it takes a lot for people to be humane in typical circumstances, never mind in circumstances that require understanding, patience, compassion, grace.
And this brings me to the word philanthropy. Many of you may know, I am the host of a show on AM650 called The Backyard Philanthropist. There is an assumption or a misunderstanding, that the show is about money. It isn’t…
It is about loving humanity in our own backyard. Relying once again on the origin of a word, philanthropy is actually defined as ‘for the love of humanity’.
Up until a few months ago, I really lived behind rose colored glasses. It didn’t matter if you made mistakes, or weren’t perfect because, well, we are human. We are ALL human. God knows, I have two out of three children with disabilities, I am well versed in an alternative ‘perfection’.
And when we make mistakes, or someone makes a mistake, errs, shows imperfection, we show compassion, grace, patience. We act humane. We do not assume, turn our backs, judge.
On the backyard philanthropist, I am fortunate to talk with many people who are humane. Who give of themselves in ways that go far beyond grace. Not because they have to, but because they want to, choose to.
I’ve talked to people who help teens and young adults transition from the foster system, like Gale from Aunt Leah’s. I have met inspiring story tellers like Cathie Borrie, who shares her mother’s Alzheimer’s journey in The Long Hello. Or Tradeworks Society, that supports women entering the trades to procure better employment, a better future.
Or maybe it is corporate citizens like Bryan, the CEO of Science World, who excitedly leads his team in building community around science and technology. The likes of Peter, the CEO of SPUD, who is passionate about food, where it comes from, and wants every home to experience the same.
After several months of loosing faith in humanity, it is the people who remain, who stand here and are humane despite adversity, that inspire me to dig out my rose colored glasses. They sit precariously on my bedside table and maybe, just maybe, one of these days soon, I will be able to place them back on.
I had the pleasure and privilege this past week to speak to three determined and inspiring advocates in the world of cancer on The Backyard Philanthropist.
In her busy schedule, Fran Drescher, of The Nanny fame, took time out to discuss her own mission in the fight for living a cancer free life. Fran founded an organization called Cancer Schmancer five years ago after experiencing uterine cancer 12 years ago. Cancer Schmancer serves as a ‘policy-driven women’s health movement’ by transitioning women from ‘patients into medical consumers’.
90% of cancer can be prevented. And it is that knowledge that has Fran pushing hard for everyone to check, choose and change. You can check your products at The Good Guide to see how they rate. You can choose products that are carcinogen or chemical free, and see change in your own household. And it doesn’t have to cost a lot or be done lock, stock and barrel.
Many products that we use every day are killing us and Fran shared some frightening statistics. Did you know that babies are now being born pre polluted with 100’s of toxins already in their umbilical cord? And that flame retardant is found in women’s breast milk? One in three women will get cancer, one in two men.
We also spoke to Kathryn Seely from the Canadian Cancer Society about the recent EPIC fail of our Provincial Government to not pass a bill that would ban the use of cosmetic pesticides despite 5,000 out of 7,300 equestionnaires being sumitted SUPPORTING the ban.
And it does come down to consumerism. We, every day, all year long, purchase products and brands that are full of carcinogens and chemicals. Fran believes we have become complacent consumers and in order for us to live a cancer free life, we need to be more ‘civic minded’.
Here in BC, if you want to let our Government know how you feel about the use of pesticides, go to www.cancergameplan.ca.
We do have options as consumers. We spoke to Tanja Salewski from Finlandia Pharmacy and the message was reiterated; keep it simple, keep it fresh, drink lots of water, and stay away from the ‘dirty dozen’. David Suzuki has broken down the dirty dozen list found in cosmetics and I recommend everyone go check it out.
Finlandia is having a great event coming up on Thursday, August 30th with the make up artist of Halle Berry called The Organic Cosmetic Event.
This next generation being born, for the first time, has a life expectancy rate LOWER than the generation before it.
Get involved. Go through your own home and slowly start removing products that have chemicals, carcinogens, pesticides. You will through the process discover alternatives that work for you and your family.
Visit Cancer Schmancer and have a Trash Cancer party on the 29th of September and invite your friends, your neighbours to learn how to live a toxin free live which means a cancer free live.
I’m in…who wants to come to my house?
There are few people in the world I want to meet more than Sir Richard Branson. This Friday, Sir Richard will be hosted by the Vancouver Board of Trade for a fireside chat. As a member, I got access to what is now a sold out event. At $200.00 a pop, the price is higher than typical VBOT events.
Even so, I whipped out my good ol’ credit card and plunked down the money with fervent anticipation of being in the same room with the self made successful serial entrepreneur. My brain still pounds at the thought.
It can’t be mere coincidence that the year Sir Richard founded Virgin was the very same year I was born; June 2nd, 1970 into the world of Virgin…in a small, remote town in Northern England. Coincidence? I think not.
It took me a few years to discover the formidable Branson and it was through his book, Business Stripped Bare (still found on my bedside table), that I learned you could be a global entrepreneur.
I launched one business after another, trying to find my niche, my place of impact. In the course of my journey, discovered, much like my booked mentor, that you are going to piss people off, that you will disrupt innovation and it is ok to step outside of typical verticals in business and be bold…
Be very very bold…
This led me to create Global Currents; what I believe, has been my greatest legacy other than my three beautiful children. Global Currents could have stayed Pincgiving, it could have remained in my back pocket, a small, unassuming initiative that redistributes wealth at a grassroots level. No, I want to be a global entrepreneur and have Global Currents stamp on innovative impacting digital tools that redistribute wealth and ultimately, create social sustainability for communities world wide.
Alas, this Friday…my beautiful living legacy herself, Miss Sophia, has an important appointment with her kidney specialist. Sophia’s kidneys are just so-so and any other appointment I would try to rebook. This one, I can’t, we can’t…
So, my dear colleague, Madelaine Shaw of Lunapads, has been given a wonderful gift in the form of my ticket…and in turn, Lunapads is donating the value of the ticket to Pads4Girls Transforming Textiles Malawi campaign. The $200.00 is going towards the $50,000 it costs to send a container of 10,000 pad kits to girls in Malawi. A great way for all this to end.
So, Sir Richard Branson…if you read this, know I am there in spirit and your coming to Vancouver has in some half ass back end way, gone to impact young girls in Malawi. If I was there, I’d ask you for a coffee one global entrepreneur to another.
It’s all good…the ultimate sacrifice of a Mompreneur.
For the past half a dozen years, I have been calling myself the Backyard Philanthropist.
Traditionally, philanthropy has been associated with the likes of the Rockefellers and the Fords, Carnegies. In today’s day and age, we have Bill Gates and Warren Buffet and other celebrities who through their financial success are pledging to give their fortune away to causes.
I talk about this a lot; grassroots giving started back in the early 1900’s when the Red Cross raised over $200 million dollars during the war. Reason being? Everyone was affected; mother’s sent their sons to fight, wives lost their husbands, children were born while their father’s were at war. The economy was impacted, the hearts of people were impacted, community was impacted.
It is no surprise that Canada’s 10 biggest charities are somewhat broad in nature but each and everyone can and does impact someone, at some point in time. You’ve got World Vision Canada, United Way, Heart and Stroke Foundation, Sick Kids, Salvation Army, Canadian Cancer Society, Canadian Red Cross, Plan International, Canadian Unicef and Canadian Diabetes Association.
I doubt you would ever find a niche charitable organization in Canada’s top 10. However, that doesn’t mean that niche organizations can’t and don’t have impact in community and it doesn’t mean that we can’t impact change with our own small change.
So what is Backyard Philanthropy? Exactly what I shared above, small change impacting small change, a redistribution of wealth at a grassroots level. The Wellesley Institute shared a StatsCan report that indicated individuals and businesses donated $11.6 billion. $11.6 billion dollars! That is a lot of money and that equates to a lot of impact.
I have three children and I can’t tell you how many times I have gone out early on a Saturday morning in the pouring rain collecting pop cans to raise money for team uniforms, or new balls, bats. I feel that sometimes, in our world, we give more clout to Bill Gates and Warren Buffet for redistributing their billions in wealth and less to every day individuals, who in Canada, have a $11.6 billion impact.
Recently, there was controversy regarding Nick Hanauer’s TED Talk indicating that it is the middle class that are the job creators not the one percent. I’d would have to say that is the same for nonprofit, charitable dollars…the bulk comes from every day people, in community.
And that is Backyard Philanthropy…every day people, in community, giving of their time, their resources, their acumen to make small change. And we all know that small change adds up to big impact.
Follow me on Twitter and learn more about the many community organizations I meet who are making big impact through small change.
When you are a parent of disability you waffle between shameless optimism of what your child can or could do, and utter despair for what they are unable to do. And at some point in your journey, you hit the brick wall of reality.
I have definitely hit that brick wall of reality and am finding it painful. Sophia is eleven and in grade six. There are moments when she seems like a ‘typical’ eleven year old girl. Sophia knows all the words to any Selena Gomez song, she wants to wear ‘big’ girl clothes, paint her toe nails. She wears deodorant, has her first bra and definitely has eleven year old girl emotional break downs!
Sophia loves to help out in the kitchen and goes shopping with me, following the grocery list with determination. We have real conversations about what kind of vegetables we need for dinner and what apples are our favourite. She can choose between cheddar or mozzarella, cold ham or turkey. Sophia loves to read the ingredients in the food we pick out and fervently announces to anyone walking by the percentage of sugar indicated on the side package.
In these moments walking up and down the aisles, I have shameless optimism that my daughter will grow up and develop into an independent, self reliant woman. That she will have completed her education, have a good job, a social life, and share her home with close friends/roommates. That she will manage her own bank account and perhaps, fall in love, have children of her own.
Slam! There is that damn brick wall. OUCH! It hurts…
Sophia is estimated to be about the developmental age of a four year old. I would say it rings true in that her favorite show is still Barney, and she laughs uncontrollably watching Sesame Street on her iPad. We still have to cut up her food, bath her, and there are moments like tonight at dinner, when she really does not understand the context of the conversation. This typically leads to her brothers laughing and Sophia sitting there with indignation, thinking she knows the answer and is right; a blend of the eleven year old girl and a developmentally four year old child.