Our People ~ Amy Robinson

Can environmental sustainability, community engagement and the buy-local movement really increase profits for local businesses and help them compete in the global market? LOCO BC founder and business sustainability consultant, Amy Robinson knows so.

“I could see how this whole sustainability movement focuses on the environmental side, sometimes on the social side, but never on the economic side. The business pillar was missing.”

Hollyhock Scholarship Recipient Amy Robinson is ED and founder of LOCO, a growing alliance of local companies focused on strengthening communities, growing the local economy, and building strong, sustainable businesses. LOCO builds strength in numbers, sharing resources between businesses and creating economies of scale through the network’s business members. The new LOCO health care plan leverages the group to make health care accessible to even the smallest businesses. Amy has 14 years experience working with businesses to embed sustainability into operations. She has worked with organizations ranging from small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) to big industry, regional governments and the UN. However, she has a passion for small businesses, with their unique challenges and opportunities.

LOCO BC was recently featured in the following Vancouver Observer article  by Janel Johnson.

LOCO BC Empowers Local Businesses to be Environmentally Sustainable, Socially Engaged, and Profitable


Photo by Sara Dent

Can environmental sustainability, community engagement and the buy-local movement really increase profits for local businesses and help them compete in the global market? LOCO BC founder and business and sustainability consultant, Amy Robinson, knows so.

She founded LOCO BC after working for 12 years with big and small businesses on sustainability issues overseas, with the UN, and in Metro Vancouver.  Everywhere she went, she found something was amiss.

Says Robinson, “I could see how this whole sustainability movement focuses on the environmental side, sometimes on the social side, but never on the economic side. The business pillar was missing”

Robinson founded LOCO BC in 2009 to educate consumers, buyers, businesses and government about the importance of local ownership and what’s known as the “multiplier effect.” Local business owners tend to purchase higher level services like marketing and finance in their own communities. They hire local labour whereas big multi-national organizations centralize services.

“When you shop at those big chains,” says Robinson, “that money just leaks out of the community.”

Her years of experience showed her that successful local businesses are the cornerstones to successful communities.

“Even if the Walmarts and the HP’s of the world were as green as they could possibly be, we’re still going to have a big problem, there’s still a fundamental underpinning here that is problematic.”

For Robinson, educating consumers to spend local is key to increasing profitability for small businesses. “When you spend money locally it bounces locally three times, on average. Your money circulates when you shop at local businesses.”

Built on a membership business model, LOCO BC not only raises awareness about the positive impacts of buying local but also connects supports and promotes local businesses.

LOCO BC connects its 85 members to each other as a way to build community.

“We also make purposeful connections when we see them,” says Robinson. LOCO recently connected new member, The HIVE and its 70 members, with local office supplies member Mills Basics so they don’t have to purchase them from a foreign company. LOCO also recently connected Founding members Salt Spring Coffee with Community Partner Recycling Alternative to improve their zero waste program.

LOCO members can also connect with each other on the website’s online member directory or at the monthly social mixers. Robinson says the mixers give members the opportunity to meet each other and create links “organically.”

“Instead of us wagging our finger and saying, ‘you should localize your supply chain,’ they’re just meeting amazing people and they feel like ‘wow we’re part of this really amazing movement.’” Members also offer each other discounts.

LOCO BC supports its members by helping them to increase profits and decrease costs. One way LOCO BC is helping to decrease costs is by working with member Dehoney Financial Group to provide a health care plan for small businesses. Not only is it very expensive for small business owners to provide health care for their employees, large health care insurers sometimes don’t want to bother with them.

To promote its members, LOCO BC profiles each member business on its website and is launching a public awareness video campaign on member, The Tyee’s, online magazine.

Robinson was inspired to form LOCO BC by the North America-wide BALLE movement which envisages a network of self-sufficient communities connected to other self-sufficient communities.

“We wanted to create that culture in business, in consumers and in local government, where you look to what’s in your community first and you support those local businesses, who’re innovating on local levels.”

Says Robinson, “we live in a global economy. Everything you buy is not produced locally but you can support the businesses in your community that are supporting your community soccer team and hiring your kids. The philosophy is: local first.”

Psoma Yoga by Donna Martin

“In this practice we want to become curious about whatever we notice: a tightness in the chest or belly, perhaps, or an uneven distribution of weight. We then begin to study it a little, perhaps even very slightly exaggerating it to help us become even more aware of the experience that goes with it.     Another way to practice is to explore any postures or movements that invite the habitual patterns to change and to think of these simply as experiments.”


Psoma Yoga  
by Donna Martin
via www.donnamartin.net 



 I have been practising and teaching yoga since 1970. I studied with teachers of various traditions and lineages, including several trained by Iyengar and Desikachar, as well as yoga therapy with A.G.Mohan. My approach has also been influenced by Tibetan Buddhism, Kum Nye, and by teachers of the Feldenkrais Method. I have also worked as a stress management specialist, addictions counselor, and bodymind therapist. Since 1990 I have worked closely with Ron Kurtz, creator of the Hakomi Method, and have been an international trainer of that method since 1996. I am coming back to teaching yoga with a strong Hakomi and Buddhist influence and call this approach Psoma Yoga. 

 This is a body/mind/spirit practice which can be used for yourself to enhance your yoga and/or meditation practice. It can be also be offered as a way to teach yoga classes, or to support others in their healing journey. It, in the ancient yoga tradition, is grounded in the practice of mindfulness. 

Mindfulness is a state of mind that involves the ability to be fully present, aware of whatever is happening, receptive to any subtle nuances and changes that occur. It requires a sense of wonder, an openness to what is, an absence of an agenda or judgment or any attachment to outcome.

The practice is to continually notice how we do things, not just what we do.

Practicing mindfulness in standing, for example, we can notice the habitual and automatic patterns that organize the way we stand, without moving to “correct” them. How are we standing? And how does our way of standing in our body express the way we stand in relation to others and to Life?

In this practice we want to become curious about whatever we notice: a tightness in the chest or belly, perhaps, or an uneven distribution of weight. We then begin to study it a little, perhaps even very slightly exaggerating it to help us become even more aware of the experience that goes with it.     Another way to practice is to explore any postures or movements that invite the habitual patterns to change and to think of these simply as experiments.

What happens as we do this pose or movement? How does it feel? Where does the body feel resistance? How does it change the way the body relates to the ground? To the space around the body? To another person? How do we feel different in the body after doing this pose or movement?

When we are ready to change, and when we offer our body a new alternative that feels more natural and nourishing, the change can happen easily.    

“Be at least as interested in what goes on inside you  as what happens outside. If you get the inside right,  the outside will fall into place.”

The intention of yoga and meditation practices is to cultivate a greater capacity for quiet self-reflection, the kind of self-witnessing, self-acceptance, and self-understanding, that allows for a more liberating and creative participation in Life. One of the most useful things we can learn from our practice is the capacity to calm ourselves down when distressed. Only by calming down and finding a quiet place inside, where we can just be with an experience, only then can we find the freedom to respond, rather than react.

The inner peace we will find is healing both for ourselves and for others.


Psoma Yoga as a Personal Practice 

In this approach to yoga as a personal practice, we follow these steps:

1. We establish a safe and loving context for learning and healing to occur by establishing a calm, compassionate, appreciative reflective presence and connection with ourselves. We practise being with ourselves with kindness and respect.

2. We use mindfulness and reflective presence to become more aware of how we are organizing our bodily experience, especially in any ways that are unnecessarily limiting or hurtful.

3. We pay attention to present bodily experience to discover how our body is expressing attitudes and beliefs, and how each bodily expression is organized by unconscious habits.

4. We maintain an experimental attitude and use mindfulness to allow for the possibility of change that comes through enhanced awareness… what are we doing habitually and automatically, and what would be a nourishing alternative to our old patterns?

5. We complete with the experience of something physically (and spiritually) nourishing, staying with the experience long enough for it to integrate and penetrate our cells and our bodymind.

In Psoma Yoga the practice is to continually notice how we do things, not just what we do. Practicing mindfulness in standing, for example, we can notice the habitual and automatic patterns that organize the way we stand, without hurrying to “correct” them.

We want to become fascinated with whatever we notice: a tightness in the chest or belly, perhaps, or an uneven distribution of weight. We then want to study it a little, perhaps even very slightly exaggerating it to help us become even more aware.

Our habits tend to resist what feels like a correction and the result might be a kind of layering of tension patterns. For example, if the habit is to round the shoulders, there is a systematic tightening of certain muscles. Simply to bring the shoulders back, without addressing the habitual holding patterns, merely adds another layer of tension. When the correcting action stops, there is an inevitable return to the habitual pattern unless there is some kind of change in consciousness.

The attitude we bring to our practice in Psoma Yoga is one of curiosity and appreciation. All our habits, even those involving unnecessary tension, were created as attempts to serve us, to help us function. With an experimental approach, we can discover and explore our habitual ways of doing things in order to bring them more fully into consciousness. Consciousness is choice. We can also experiment with alternative ways, paying attention to the felt sense of the experience we have as we do something different than our habits. The quality of attention we bring to this practice actually changes our habits and experiences by changing the brain and the signals it sends to the body.

Let the asanas be doorways to your personal experience, which, in turn, invites you to a deeper sense of self. The practice is one of coming home.



Sit on the ground with the sole of your left foot placed against the inside of your right thigh, your right foot back by your right hip. Arrange yourself this way as comfortably as possible. Feel how your sitting bones rest differently on the ground. Is there any space between your right sitting bone and the ground?

Close your eyes and just feel the flow of breath into and out of the body. Notice if there is, anywhere in your body, an impulse for movement… Feel any places in your body where there is tightness, holding, or resistance…

Intentionally take over doing whatever you notice happening and gently do it on purpose. Rest for a moment and just study whatever comes to your attention. Then, bring your attention again to your right sitting bone. Feel how the weight of your body is supported by the ground. As you inhale, gently lift the right sitting bone slightly higher, letting it settle again as you exhale. Do this mindfully a few more times. Then rest. What do you notice… what do you feel?

Again, inhaling, let the right sitting bone lift slightly… pause: notice any impulses, any hints of a movement that wants to happen. Allow yourself to move gently with these impulses. (example: Do you feel an impulse to rotate and move into a twist?) Then come back to the starting position.

Rest. Feel any change in the relationship of your sitting bones to the ground.

Study for a moment how you feel generally in the posture now. Repeat the position and movements on the other side. How do the sides feel different?


SAVASANA (corpse pose)

Lying on your back, knees bent, feet standing, arms by your sides. Just sense the shape of your back on the ground and feel your body being supported. Very gradually let one leg, then the other, extend long on the ground. Study how this changes the shape of the back on the ground. Feel the weight of the legs and arms supported by the ground. Notice if one leg seems less supported than the other. Create some tightness in this leg, as if you were about to lift it right off the ground. Then release. Tighten again… then release… Repeat this with the other leg.

Sense any changes in how the legs feel supported by the ground. Feel the arms. If one arm seems less in contact with the ground, tighten it as you did with the leg. Then release. Do it again… release. Repeat with the other arm. (If both arms or legs feel about the same, tighten them simultaneously and release several times.) Feel the weight of the head on the ground. Imagine just starting to lift the head without actually lifting it. Then relax. Repeat. Now feel the flow of breath. Imagine or sense the breath coming in and up from the ground, rising into the front body as you inhale, and sinking back down into the ground from the back body as you exhale. You may feel a slight sensation of rising… almost like levitating… as you inhale, followed by a settling feeling as you exhale.

Experience this sense of rising slightly away from the ground and sinking back into the ground with your full body weight as you feel the breath moving into and out of the body. Then rest. Surrender yourself to the support of the ground.


Vertality 3 Vancouver's Green Community Event March 14

It’s back! Vertality3 is the third annual celebration of Vancouver’s business and social change community. Bringing together the best in business, sustainability, and innovation, Vertality is Vancouver’s social change bash for getting the Spring started.

On March 14, join hundreds of Vancover’s top changemakers in a first-class celebration of of new beginnings and everything green at Club 560. Sample mouth-watering local organic food, be amazed by gravity-defying acts, express yourself in the costume photo-booth, challenge your tastebuds in the organic taste test, and get ready for more delicious surprises… and of course, polish your dancing shoes for an evening of fine tunes. Whether you want to hit the dancefloor or network in the corner booth, on March 14th, Vertality3 is where you’ll want to be.

Where: Club 560, 560 Seymour Street

When: Thursday March 14, 6:00-10:00

What: Eat – Drink – Dance- Connect

Click here to register!

Presented by: Board of Change, Renewal Partners & Hollyhock

Presenting Sponsors: Vancity & Tides Canada

Supporting Sponsor: SAP

Presented By:




Presenting Sponsors:





Supporting Sponsor:



Our People ~ Jill Earthy

“My experience with Hollyhock programs consistently equates to meaningful connections and intense learning through the power of collaboration and community.  Amazing!” – Jill

Jill Earthy, an SVI alumni who plans on attending SVI Women in Vancouver is one of the many inspiring changemakers supported by the Hollyhock Scholarship Fund. She is the BC Director of The Canadian Youth Business Foundation, an organization that champions youth entrepreneurship in Canada and around the world.


Contact danielle@hollyhock.ca for more details.


via Business In Vancouver

Life Lessons: Jill Earthy
by Emma Crawford

Jill Earthy discovered long ago that engaging different perspectives can be a fundamental part of decision-making, and she has since surrounded herself with a strong network she can turn to when she needs to reach out.

But the regional director in charge of B.C. and the Yukon for the Canadian Youth Business Foundation recently realized that getting different opinions is not the only reason it’s helpful to consult with others.

Until this past spring, Earthy was working as the Forum for Women Entrepreneurs’ executive director. She decided it was time for a change and started considering her different options, which included starting her own business – something she had done successfully twice before.

“There was one point in my decision-making where I was pursuing a few different things, and I thought I had made a decision one way,” she recalled. “It was somebody’s perspective of my physical reaction that made me rethink that.”

Earthy said that as she was discussing her options with others in her support network, more than one person identified a distinct difference in how she spoke about each one.

“I had it happen two or three times, where someone would say ‘When you were talking about this one opportunity, your face lit up. When you were talking about the other, you looked pained.’”

Earthy, a past Business in Vancouver Forty under 40 award winner, added that the difference in how she reacted to the various options was apparent to others but not to her.

“It’s amazing how you give off certain signals that you don’t realize. I found that was quite eye-opening for me.”

Earthy said that new body-language information helped her decide to take the position at the Canadian Youth Business Foundation, which was not the choice she had originally been leaning toward.

She said she’s now paying closer attention to the body language of others and is more aware of visual cues that others give off – which works well in her new position working with young entrepreneurs.

“I think sometimes we convince ourselves that one way is the right answer, and sometimes it’s for the wrong reasons.”

Garden to Table: Tuscan Kale Pesto

Tuscan Kale Pesto

Makes 1 cup

If all that’s left of summer’s fresh basil is a lingering memory, and you think your days of fresh pesto are behind you, turn to that strong, determined over-wintering kale that’s standing tall in your garden.  This pesto recipe, courtesy of Dr. Andrew Weil, is packed full of flavour and loaded with those good-for-you dark leafy green nutrients.

Continue reading Garden to Table: Tuscan Kale Pesto