Category Archives: Social Innovation

Discover ways to incorporate yoga teachings on non-harm and social engagement into your life

Redefining the present moment – Michael Stone

What does it mean to be in the moment? What does it mean to be mindful? Yogi and Buddhist teacher Michael Stone breaks down the oft used term and shows how it relates to being mindful about what’s really going on.

The gift of our wounds – Michael Stone


The heart of non-attachment – Michael Stone

True non-attachment is an intimacy with life. Buddhist teacher and yogi Michael Stone shares his perspective on how to live an engaged life.

Shot & edited by Ian MacKenzie

Michael Stone leader of Centre of Gravity, is a psychotherapist, Yoga teacher, author and activist, committed to the integration of traditional teachings with contemporary psychological and philosophical understanding. The components of his practice include Yoga postures, breathing technique, meditation and textual study. Over the years, his goal has been to cultivate long-term relationships with people who want to deepen their understanding of Yoga and Buddhist teachings and practice. He also maintains a dedicated workshop and retreat schedule in communities in Canada and abroad. Michael is a father and lives in Toronto with his partner Carina Lof and his 9 year old son Arlyn. These days you can find him working on a documentary film called “Reactor,” a new book of the same title, teaching, and also giving talks at conferences and in community.

Join Michael Stone  June 28 – July 3 for a workshop on The Inner Tradition of Yoga and discover ways to incorporate yoga teachings on non-harm and social engagement into your life


Case Study on Growth: Lovey’s Comes to SVI Women

BY HILARY MANDEL via Junxion Strategy

Ask Marcie Weinstein-Smith what inspired her to start her company, and she’ll give you the typical “mompreneur” spiel: her baby needed “something,” she couldn’t find that “something” on the market, and so she made it. Turns out, that “something” was Canada’s first natural diaper ointment in a stick.

Marcie-Weistien-Smith_loveysLike other early-stage mission-based* entrepreneurs who’ll be attending this week’s SVI Women – Vancouver (SVIW), Weinstein-Smith decided to take a risk and move forward with manufacturing and wholesaling a product line targeted to a quickly growing segment of moms interested in natural baby products. In other words, she created a social venture.

Weinstein-Smith’s start-up, Lovey’s Body Products, based in Delta, BC, is one of two case studies on the agenda for SVIW, the first Social Venture Institute held in Vancouver that’s designed exclusively for women entrepreneurs who are creating social and environmental change through their businesses.


The SVI Case Study

svi-blog-postSVI Women’s case study format mirrors that of its sister conference, SVI Hollyhock. Weinstein-Smith will have a short period of time to present a business challenge her company is facing to the full conference group. A panel of experts, who will have been briefed on the company ahead of time, will ask a series of clarifying questions, and then the full group will have an opportunity to do the same.

After Weinstein-Smith has answered the questions to the best of her ability, the panelists will put forth their best advice regarding the challenges she’s laid out, followed by more recommendations from the full group. Finally, Weinstein-Smith will have a chance to reflect back her thoughts on what she’s heard. This rapid exchange of information happens in a supportive and confidential setting, offering the entrepreneur who’s “in the hot seat”– and the group as a whole — a unique and often transformative dose of business learning.


Lovey’s Challenge: Steering the Rapids of Growth

lovey-logoEven though developing a product like the Tushi Stick requires a fair bit of science, Weinstein-Smith admits she doesn’t have a chemistry background (although, she hastens to add, “I always loved making potions when I was a kid.”). More likely, it’s her 18 years in corporate sales, marketing, advertising and relationship management in the technology sector, plus experience as an independent business development consultant, that gave her legs to stand on when it came to launching Lovey’s.

Weinstein-Smith oversees Lovey’s manufacturing, finance, administration and logistics. In addition, just three and half years into her business, Weinstein-Smith now has the added challenge of handling the sales and marketing for not just one, but two product lines.

Weinstein-Smith says that ChafeGuard™, her new chaffing relief product, came about as another case of filling a need, one she started hearing about from New York City Marathon runners who were using her baby stick and asked for a natural product made for them. Weinstein-Smith, the business consultant, delved right into competitive research and saw the opportunity for natural anti-chaffing products not just for runners and cyclists, but also for elders suffering from heat rash, people with prosthetics, and more.

But of course, growth brings its own set of challenges. So what’s the biggest hurdle for this solo-eco-mom-preneur? Weinstein-Smith says there’s not just one. To start with, she says, “When you’re one person, you get pulled in so many different directions.” Given the collective experience of the SVIW crowd, Weinstein-Smith is likely to leave this week’s conference with a clearer sense of which direction is next for her.


* “Mission-based enterprise” is used here to mean a for-profit business with a built-in social or environmental mission — whether a “classic” social enterprise in support of a particular NGO (as defined by ENP and others), or a privately-held commercial enterprise, as in Weinstein-Smith’s case.


Social Venture Institute Women is taking place at SFU Woodwards  World Arts Centre in Vancouver, May 1-3, 2013.

Social Change with Hollyhock

social_change trio

Leadership. Skills. Connection. 

Sharpen skills, deepen impact, generate new possibilities. SCI gathers seasoned and emerging innovators to strengthen capacity, collaborations, and success of the social change sector.  SCI enhances organizational effectiveness, provides leadership development opportunities, and generates new possibilities through interactive workshops, creative practices, dialogue circles, and community building. Join us for this 5-day experiential convening designed for high impact and emerging leaders from nonprofits, government and mission-based enterprises who are seeking practical skills and networking opportunities to take their work to the next level.
Why attend SCI 2013? You will gain insight into the latest movement and organizing strategies, online tools, campaigns, leadership practices while immersed in the stunning natural setting of Canada’s leading educational retreat centre~ Hollyhock. This is your chance to break away from the daily pressures of work and life. To think big, focus your intensions, sharpen your skills, and make life long connections.
Your Social Change Institute Conference Hosts include: Joel Solomon and Cara Pike andTheodora Lamb.
Joel Solomon is President of Renewal Partners, Chairman of Renewal2 Fund and Board Chair of Hollyhock.

Cara Pike
 is the director of Climate Access, founding board member of the Global Footprint Network and an advisory board member of David Suzuki’s Stonehouse Standing Circle.

Theodora Lamb
‘s passion for digital advocacy led her to work in social media where she helps strengthen online communities. She is a web consultant with Capulet Communications.

“SCI is truly a unique event. Highlights included meeting activists and leaders working in different sectors and from different constituencies to share the best ideas. Learning about the challenges and successes of their campaigns was invaluable, we don’t get this kind of opportunity to learn from each other and give feedback.” ~ Seth Klein, Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
The opportunity to addend Social Change Institute is by invite only unless you’re returning as an alumni. You can request an invite and learn more about the conference at
Join Joel Solomon, Cara Pike and Theodora Lamb for Social Change, on Cortes Island June 5-9, 2013

Social Venture Institute Women (SVIW)

BY HILARY MANDEL via Junxion Strategy

SVIW logoConnecting Communities: Mission-minded focus for women in business

 Emira Mears is a busy woman.  In addition to running the company she co-founded, Raised Eyebrow Web Studio, and raising a pre-schooler, she’s also the lead organizer of Social Venture Institute Women- Vancouver (SVIW), taking place May 1-3 at the Goldcorp Centre for the Arts on the SFU Woodward’s campus in Vancouver, BC.

Building on Success

Mears should be used to this level activity by now.  In 2011, she co-created and produced the Women Entrepreneurs for Social Change conference, and filled the same role for the Women Entrepreneur track in last year’s inaugural SVI Vancouver.  Like its two similar predecessors, SVIW is modeled after the successful Social Venture Institute held each September at Hollyhock on Cortes Island, and is designed to lend practical skills and support to women leading small socially conscious businesses and non-profits.

Helping Mears assemble the stellar agenda of keynote speakers, case studies, workshops and panels are fellow SVI Hollyhock alumnae Madeleine Shaw and Denise Taschereau, along with Hollyhock CEO Dana Bass Solomon.  Each of these women offers rich experience balancing the demands of running a mission-driven business and having a full family life, and each has a personal passion for seeing women grow and succeed in the business world.

One of the things about SVIW that most excites Shaw, founder of Lunapads International Ltd and Pads4Girls, is the mixture of those who’ve previously attended some form of SVI and new faces. “We’re attracting a ton of new people into this community, women with fresh perspectives and ideas that will help shape SVI as it evolves,” she says.

Learning from Failure

An example of such evolution is the addition of two new panels to this SVI, creating more opportunities for group discussion and peer learning.  One panel focuses on mentorship, while the other, conceived by Fairware’s Co-Founder and CEO Taschereau, is called Rough Roads: A Discussion on Learning from Challenging Times.  “It’s very rare in these settings to have the front of the room taken up by people talking about their failures rather than their succeses,” Taschereau says of this panel.  “Hearing just the success stories can be very alienating for those of us who know that life is full of failures and challenges.  It can seem like no one else feels like their business is going under, or their staff team is falling apart.”

Taschereau was inspired to create this panel after seeing a “Failure Panel” at another conference last year, where the panelists’ stories ranged from projects that “totally bombed” to entire companies going bankrupt.  One panelist talked about how her fear of sharing ‘the writing on the wall’ was ultimately her greatest mistake.  Taschereau recalls, “She said, ‘If I had shown some of my trusted advisors what was really going on instead of being afraid, I probably would have avoided this situation.’  I was really inspired by this.”

Taschereau points to FailCon and other events that are focused on mining business failures for innovation and creativity as a positive sign. Shaw concurs, adding, “Telling the truth is rich… because when we ignore our failures, we miss so much wisdom.”

Early & Later Stage Companies Highlighted

Another SVIW highlight promises to be the two evening “True Confessions” conversations, revealing some of the “behind the scenes” realities of running a successful social venture. This year’s speakers come from companies in the food and beverage industry, each in a very different stage of its lifespan: mother and daughter Ratana & Jyoti Stephens will share stories from their internationally-established family business, Nature’s Path, while Janie Hoffman of Mamma Chia will speak from her experience as founder of a relatively new but quickly growing business.

Like her co-presenters, Mears sees tremendous value in introducing more like-minded women to this community of purpose-driven businesspeople.  “I believe there’s still a need for women entrepreneurs to have these shared conversations,” she says, echoing Hollyhock’s mission to inspire, nourish and support people making the world better.

Meet Our Friend SPUD

binonporchFounded on the idea that there should be a more sustainable way to buy your groceries, has been connecting local farmers and food producers to the community by using a just-in-time home delivery system. The result is fresher food, and healthy convenience delivered to your door. Similar to an online farmer’s market, SPUD strives to make local, healthy food accessible and the new norm for everyday grocery shopping. Every product from SPUD is certified organic or locally and sustainably produced. Customers can choose from a wide variety including local and organic produce, organic grass-fed meats, gluten-free products, organic dairy products, healthy snacks, and more.

While working with local farmers and food producers is a priority at SPUD, so is delivering local and organic groceries to customers in a green and sustainable way. Every purchase at SPUD includes an “Eco-Audit” that allows customers to track their carbon footprint reduction by not driving a car to the grocery store.

SPUD has also developed a program to collect and reuse a wide variety of difficult to recycle items through TerraCycle’s Brigades collection programs. For every item recovered, TerraCycle donates 2 cents to charity. SPUD will match that amount for a total of 4 cents per item. Once collected, items are upcycled into a variety of consumer products such as toys and office supplies.

COMlogo-125x125SPUD is also active in the six communities it serves, supporting local community organizations and charities through it’s Community Outreach Program. By utilizing their delivery fleet, SPUD is able to collect donations from customers during various drives throughout the year. Whether the drive be focused on prom dresses, winter coats, school supplies or canned goods, all donations go directly to the charitable foundations SPUD is partnered with. Learn more about SPUD and how it’s contributing to a cleaner, greener and easier way to shop at